Some individuals do not support setting new year resolutions, and in fact there is some evidence that individuals who set resolutions may be less likely to achieve them.
However, I am a proponent of redefining and clarifying one’s intentions, whether it relates to nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, or something else!
Today, I would like to discuss a few ideas for setting meaningful intentions as the new year begins.
- Make your goals SMART. This is an acronym I learned in high school. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Recently, I have had several friends ask me about meditation. While meditating for two hours a day would be ideal, it is not sustainable for many of our lives. Instead, I encourage starting with a small goal. Even sitting for 5 minutes is better than nothing. Once we begin to form a daily habit of doing something, such as meditating for 5 minutes, we will expand deeper into the practice. This may include lengthening our practice or trying different techniques. I have also been working on meditating more frequently. I am least busy in the morning, so instead of spending time on my phone, I set a 20 minute timer and follow my breath. Simple. Just follow my breath in and out, feel the rise of my chest, and take in my surroundings. I also recommend mantra meditation where you repeat a phrase to yourself with each inhale and exhale. My goal is specific: meditate every morning, measurable: 20 minutes, achievable: instead of looking at my phone I can meditate, and definitely realistic and timely. Do your legs fall asleep while meditating? Mine usually do, so to avoid physical distractions during meditation I recommend buying a meditation cushion like this one.
- De-clutter your work space. I am a true believer in the idea that an orderly house is a clear and unconfused mind. I think that cleaning out (and recycling!) items we no longer need makes it easier to keep track of the items that are still important. I also encourage devoting a space for your work. There is some evidence that working in the bedroom may hinder our sleep.
- Try a new meditation routine. If you are new to meditation, I recommend a meditation app like Headspace, which has a free 10-day trial. You can also find many free guided videos on youtube that are wonderful. If you're looking for more background on meditation as well as different techniques, I recommend reading "How to Meditate" by Kathleen McDonald. This is a wonderful book that you can always come back to and I love the different types of meditations I was able to try that helped add variety to my practice.
- Incorporate exercise into the day. There are many ways to incorporate exercise into our day. If you are busy at work, take a 5 minute break every hour to walk around and stretch. Over an 8 hour work day, this will equate to 40 minutes of walking! Another workout I have been doing recently is a sprinting routine 3-4 days a week. It only takes 15-20 minutes. First, warm up on the treadmill for about 5 minutes with a light jog. Then, set the treadmill to 9-10 mph. Sprint for 30 seconds. Then (carefully!) jump to the side of the treadmill and rest for 30 seconds (let the treadmill run for those 30 seconds because it takes too long to stop and then reset to the right speed). After your 30 seconds of rest, repeat your 30 second sprint. You can repeat this 10-15 times depending on your endurance level. As I have highlighted in previous posts, this type of HIIT training is great for weight loss and toning the body. There is also evidence that vigorous exercise is protective against Parkinson's disease.
- Cook with others. Spending time with others is a great way to relieve stress and improve happiness. I love sharing laughs with others over a delicious and nutritious meal. Although many of my friends are busy with school, I host a potluck twice during the semester. Each person brings a dish and we share recipes and laughs throughout the evening. I sometimes feel unmotivated to cook, but have found that searching for new recipes gets me excited about preparing meals! I thoroughly enjoyed this article of fall vegan recipes and also recommend Minimalist Baker's recipes (fantastic pancake recipe on her website!).
These are some of my recommendations for enhancing 2018! What intentions have you set this year to refresh and renew your life? Let me know in the comments!