Doctor and patient making an annual health checkup.

Small Resolutions for Big Results

Which of these 15 resolutions can you pledge to keep this year?

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement surrounding the new year, and you may find yourself making big promises – losing 50 pounds, cutting sugar or carbs out of your diet completely, or running a marathon. While all of these are great goals and aspirations, sometimes a big goal can become overwhelming or frustrating when we don’t meet it right away.

If you want to make one of those big resolutions, go for it! But consider several small health-related resolutions that may be easier to keep and can still add up to big changes to your overall health and wellness.

Here are 15 ideas for some small resolutions all of us can commit to this year!

  1. Doctor giving consultation to patient.Schedule an annual checkup. It’s just one appointment – a chance for you to talk to your health care provider, discuss any health concerns you have, get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked and schedule any preventative care you might have missed this past year. Treatment is often most effective when it’s done early, so a yearly checkup is a great investment in your overall health and wellness.
  2. Drink a glass of water when you wake up. For many people, mornings consist of a few cups of coffee or some other caffeinated drink. But when you first wake up, your body needs to replenish the water you lost overnight. Try keeping a glass of water next to your bed and commit to drinking it before your day gets going. Water provides all kinds of benefits – like helping your body flush toxins and get rid of waste, keeping your skin healthier, and lubricating your joints and muscles.
  3. Eat breakfast. A healthy breakfast, with some protein and fiber, can be a great way to kickstart your day. And it doesn’t have to be difficult. There are a lot of healthy, quick things you can eat (and prep the night before) that are just as easy as grabbing a donut or skipping breakfast altogether. Try these recipe ideas to stay full longer and give your body more energy as the day goes on.
  4. Make time for yourself once a week. Busy work schedules, family responsibilities and caring for others may mean you place your own needs on the back burner. Once a week, set aside a small amount of time for yourself. Maybe it’s taking a bath, walking with a friend or watching your favorite show – it doesn’t have to be extravagant, but we all need a way to recharge.
  5. Get rid of unused or expired medication. If cleaning out your entire house seems like one of those “too big” resolutions, try doing your medicine cabinet. Unused or expired medications can be a safety risk – a child might accidentally ingest something, a family member may take painkillers or opioids to fuel a habit, you might have an adverse reaction to an expired medication, and much more. Check out this article for ways to properly dispose of your unused or expired medication and make your home safer in this new year.
  6. Make one small nutrition-related change. We can all find some small way to improve our eating habits. Instead of trying out an extremely restrictive diet, try something smaller. Here are some ideas: Commit to using a little less sugar or creamer in your coffee. Try cutting your soda or sweetened beverage habit in half. Incorporate veggies into your dinners two nights a week. Eat a vegetarian meal once a week. All of these small changes can have a big impact on your overall health. Check out Start Simple on the MyPlate app to pick simple daily food goals, track your progress and earn badges along the way.
  7. Reduce your screen time. Screens have become an essential part of our daily lives, but many of us spend far too much time on them. Too much screen time can have a lot of health implications – like lower self-esteem, increased risk for obesity, sleep problems and more. Try finding a simple way to cut back. Place your phone away from your bed at night, so you’re not tempted to scroll for hours. Put your phone on silent while you eat dinner, so you’re forced to look up and engage with your family. Set a limit for the amount of time you’re going to spend on social media each day.
  8. Move more. This doesn’t have to be a big transformation or a commitment to run a marathon, but all of us could benefit from moving more and sitting less. Commit to walking once a week after dinner or before work. Try doing a 10-minute stretching or yoga video before bed. Take small movement breaks throughout the day while you’re working.
  9. Get a little more sleep. Experts recommend that adults get between seven to nine hours of restorative sleep each night, but many of us don’t meet that goal. We’re up late on devices or maybe we’re having trouble sleeping because of stress or insomnia. Not getting enough sleep consistently can be bad for our health – contributing to increased risk for mood disorders, obesity, heart disease and more. Make a simple change to get more sleep – try turning off your devices a while before you go to bed or avoid caffeine late in the day.
  10. Perform an act of kindness. Find a simple way to do something kind for someone in your life. Try volunteering once a month. Visit with a Veteran or a family member who may be lonely or isolated. Offer to take someone to a health care appointment or grocery shopping. Find a way to say thank you to someone who helped you out or made your day. Acts of kindness can help to boost our moods and make us feel better overall.
  11. Senior man at visit to the dentist.Keep your dentist happy. This is an easy one. Good oral hygiene – flossing once a day and brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes – is simple, but it has big health rewards. It can help you avoid cavities, tooth loss, gum disease, oral cancer and more.
  12. Wear sunscreen. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, but it’s also one of the most preventable. Applying sunscreen regularly – even on cloudy days – is one of the best ways to protect yourself from skin cancer. Check out more tips for keeping your skin safe in the sun.
  13. Stop the negative talk. In the age of social media, it’s easy to assume that everyone else is happier, in better shape and more financially stable than you are. Instead of comparing yourself to everyone else and telling yourself that you’re not enough (not fit enough, not wealthy enough, not fun enough), give yourself a break. Try finding positive things to say about yourself instead and give yourself credit for all the things going well in your life.
  14. Woman at annual eye appointment.Make an eye appointment. Regular eye exams and eye care can have a major impact on your overall health and wellness. A yearly eye exam can detect and prevent vision loss, ensure your eyes are healthy, and spot other health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. Schedule yours today!
  15. Speak up. Make sure you feel respected and heard in your relationships – including with your partner, family members, friends and co-workers. Let people know how you’re feeling and be sure to establish healthy boundaries with others to protect your time, your energy and your wellness. This could be as easy as saying “No” to taking on something extra.

Which of these 15 resolutions can you pledge to keep this year? Set up a note on your phone or use a notebook to jot down the small changes you’re making. Over time, you should see some significant health benefits start to add up!

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