This year, go rogue with your resolutions. Consider ways you can improve your life that don’t involve counting calories, purchasing new sports equipment or joining a gym.
Here are five ideas for alternative resolutions that can help improve your overall health and wellness:
- Read at least one book every three months.
A recent study found that more than 24% of American adults didn’t pick up a single book to read in 2018, which is unfortunate, because reading offers many benefits. Beyond entertainment, reading can help reduce stress, keep your brain engaged to prevent memory loss or dementia, improve your vocabulary and concentration, and increase empathy and awareness as you learn about different places and people. Visit your local library or favorite bookstore, or start a book swap with friends and neighbors. As they say, “To exceed, you must read.”
- Keep track of how you spend your money and set budget and saving goals.
Tracking your daily spending will make you aware of where all your money is going and whether you’d rather it go someplace else — such as in a savings account. There are many smartphone apps you can download and budgeting worksheets online, or you can go about it the old-fashioned way and keep a spending log on paper. Take note of trends, reevaluate your priorities and make the changes needed to resolve any financial stress that might be affecting your health. You might even find you have a little extra to donate to a cause that both warms your heart and helps others.
- Try at least one new way to help save the environment.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that climate change affects your health in several ways. From heat- and natural disaster-related deaths to respiratory illnesses caused by poor air quality and a lack of access to fresh food and safe water due to higher temperatures and contaminated water sources, environmental changes can be devastating. You can help by making a resolution to do something. Whether you choose to reduce your meat consumption each week, buy less and recycle more, or simply stop using plastic disposable water bottles, you can help save the environment in your own small way.
- Learn a new skill.
Much like reading, learning a new skill or a new subject exercises your brain and strengthens your memory and concentration muscle. Local organizations — including Sharp — and libraries offer a variety of free programs, and there are thousands of free online classes to discover. Local colleges have courses you can join, and craft stores and home improvement warehouses teach both creative and practical skills for no (or very low) cost to you. You also can create your own learning opportunity by visiting libraries, museums and historical sites, or visiting with a friend or acquaintance who has lived a life different from your own.
- Join something.
A book club, volunteer group, neighborhood watch, sports team, political campaign, online support group or the coffee klatch that meets at your local cafe all are ways to join a group of like-minded people and make new connections. Social connections are essential to good mental and physical health. In fact, a lack of social connection can negatively affect your health more than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. Making connections can help decrease anxiety and depression, increase your immune system, and even lengthen your life. You can also have a lot of fun and provide companionship for others in the group.