It’s that time of year again. Time to take stock of the events of the last 12 months and make a plan for the next 12. If you’re into resolutions, now is the time to make them. Of course, we find that the more realistic the resolution, the better your odds of keeping it for a whole year. To help you stay on track for reaching your goals, follow these new year preparation tips to turn good intentions into better health.
Before we dive in, here are three habits that will help you while you’re making your resolutions and while you’re in the thick of things next year:
1. Start by Reflecting on the Past
2020 was a crazy year, so don’t be hard on yourself if things didn’t quite go as you had planned when the year began. Regardless, take an objective look at what worked and what didn’t, and take this into account as you look ahead to the next year.
2. Leave Bad Habits Behind
We all have bad habits, so don’t beat yourself up about yours. The important thing is to recognize your unhelpful habits and find a way to unlearn them. In fact, the end of the year is a perfect time to leave those bad habits behind.
3. Stay Positive
Don’t beat yourself up over a lapse or temporary failure to stick to your plan. Be kind to yourself. Everyone stumbles. Start fresh and tell yourself, “I can do this.”
OK, now that we’re focused on the future and keeping it positive, here are some new year preparation tips for making successful resolutions:
Instead of vaguely saying you want to lose weight, be clear about how much weight you want to lose and when you want to reach that goal. For example, “I’m going to lose five pounds in the next two months.”
Pick something that’s important to you. If you’re willing to devote time and energy to reaching this goal, you’re more likely to stay the course.
Keep your goals realistic and achievable. Trying to take too big a step too fast will only leave you frustrated. Give yourself time to reach the finish line with lots of smaller intermediate goals along the way.
Keep a journal or use an app designed to track your progress. Are you on target? Does the goal need to be modified?
Now that you have an idea of how to make smart resolutions, remember to limit the number of your resolutions as you make your new year preparations. If you make too many, you may find you won’t have enough willpower to stick to all of them.
If you need some ideas for some smart resolutions, here are five goals to get your creative juices flowing:
1. Exercise Every Day
Like it or not, regular exercise is important for your physical and mental health. It can help you continue to do the things you enjoy and stay independent as you age. In addition, regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing some diseases and disabilities that develop as we grow older, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Physical activity also reduces stress — just what we need during these uncertain times.
To get started on an exercise plan, include activities you enjoy. If you like the outdoors, try biking or hiking. Make it social by joining a walking club at your local mall, or an exercise class at your local community center. Yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, dancing and balance classes are just some of the ways we make fitness fun at Timber Ridge. For exercises you can do at home, check out these 4 Exercises You Should Do Every Day from SilverSneakers®.
2. Get More Sleep
There’s a reason health professionals recommend getting eight hours of sleep each night. When you don’t get enough shut-eye, you reduce the effectiveness of your immune system; increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease; trigger hormones that make you feel hungry (even when you’re full); and can feel dull and forgetful. That’s no way to go through your day. So get a good night’s rest.
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, avoid large meals and alcoholic drinks late at night, try to exercise most days but not later than two to three hours before bedtime, don’t take naps after 3 p.m., and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. For more tips on getting a good night’s sleep, visit the National Sleep Foundation website.
3. Eat Healthier
As you grow older, your body doesn’t burn as many calories as it used to because your metabolism slows down as you age. This makes it very important to eat less, and better, to maintain a healthy weight. The USDA’s Choose My Plate program, and your health care provider, can help you make good choices. They include eating plenty of vegetables and fruits; choosing healthier sources of protein such as beans, chicken and fish; substituting whole grains for refined grain carbohydrates; replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats; and using alcohol in moderation.
At Timber Ridge, residents benefit from healthy menu choices that make dining a treat. Everything is cooked fresh and to order, and served with a smile.
4. Keep Your Mind Engaged
Your brain is like a muscle — you need to use it or you lose it. There are many things you can do to keep your brain in shape, such as working through crossword puzzles or Sudoku, reading, playing cards or games, taking or teaching a class, learning a new skill or hobby, or volunteering. All these activities and more fill the calendar at Timber Ridge. Art, music and philosophy classes are some of the most popular classes with residents.
Some scientists have noted that such activities may protect the brain by establishing “cognitive reserve.” They may help the brain become more adaptable in some mental functions so it can compensate for age-related brain changes and health conditions that affect the brain. Socializing also gives your brain a boost, so consider joining a group focused on a hobby you enjoy.
5. Stay Connected
Humans are hard-wired for connection. It makes us happy and drives away despair. So be a good friend. Listen when someone close to you needs to talk. Give back to the group you are part of. Play with your friends, whether it’s a game of cards, a round of golf or fetch with your dog. You could also volunteer for a group or cause you’re interested in. Check with schools in your area to see if they offer opportunities for mentoring students. Museums, parks and food banks may also offer possibilities for volunteering your time and talent.
Nurturing relationships can be just as important to your health and well-being as nutrition and physical activity. Maintaining a strong social network may even contribute to a longer, healthier life.
Learn How Our Life Plan Community Can Fit Your Plans
If one of your goals is to feel more secure about the future, talk to us about the benefits of independent living at Timber Ridge. We’re always happy to answer your questions about the many activities and amenities available on campus, and the peace of mind residents enjoy knowing they have a smart plan in place should their health needs ever change. To learn more, contact us to schedule a visit, either in person or virtually online.