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The New Year is supposed to feel refreshing. It's a fresh start, a clean slate, a time to promise you'll be this, do this, eat that, learn this… The list goes on and on. So why does the prospect of the New Year also feel so damn overwhelming at the same time? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize the fresh start and new beginning can also make the pressure feel so real. You feel like you're supposed to become a better person once the clock strikes midnight. And when everyone is doing Whole30 or Keto or Dry January or going to the gym every day, and you're not, it can make you feel guilty, depressed, and frustrated. Now that shiny clean slate doesn't seem so exciting anymore.
Our take? You shouldn't feel pressured to make a BIG change. You can if you want, of course, but if you aren't in the right mindset or just feel uninspired, don't force yourself. It's actually freeing to give yourself some slack.
What you can do instead is make smaller changes or resolutions. Set the bar at a reasonable height so that the goals are in sight and actually achievable. And hey, if you don't get to them or finish them, that's okay, too. To help you with some ideas, we tapped experts in the health and wellness space for their tips. See what they had to say below, and let us know what your non-resolution resolution is through an Instagram DM or comment on @thethirty.
1. Drink More Water
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This is a good place to start, and it's relatively straightforward and easy to achieve, too. "Hydrate first thing in the morning when you wake up, and follow suit as you incorporate the 'half of your body weight in ounces of water' rule each day to meet hydration and daily cleansing needs," says Laurie Brodsky, HBSc, ND, Dirty Lemon's in-house naturopath. "The kidneys flush toxins this way, and so the more you drink, the more you feed your cells from the inside out. Your skin cells will plump as they eliminate toxins, and your brain and cardiovascular function benefit too, as your blood is easier to flow throughout the system."
2. Add Rather Than Subtract
"Resolutions that are about adding something rather than subtracting are mentally easier to achieve," Erica Zellner, MS, a health coach at Parsley Health, explains. "Instead of saying that you want to lose weight, why not try resolving to add three more vegetable servings to each day?"
3. Do Little Things to Avoid Stress
Ashley Black, inventor of the FasciaBlaster, believes the most underestimated health issue is stress, so she suggests finding little ways to shift your thinking and habits. "Start with the mental so you can paradigm shift," she says. "I think reading first thing in the morning is extremely important. Avoiding stress throughout your day can become easier when living in a peaceful and focused state."
4. Move for at Least 15 Minutes a Day
See, you don't have to force yourself to go to the gym at 5 a.m. every morning once January 1 comes around. "We can trust that daily movement and exercise is good for us and that some exercise is better than no exercise," says Angelo Grinceri, a master instructor a P.volve, a high-intensity, low-impact training method that you can stream at home. "Your baseline becomes 15 minutes of exercise every day. At P.volve, they believe in moving your body safely and effectively. They have streaming workouts that range from 15 to 60 minutes. And if you're giving it your all, you only need 15 minutes to get your heart rate up, get the blood flowing, and feel GOOD about moving your body!" So try a streaming workout, or go for a brisk walk around your neighborhood—however you like to stay active.
5. Up Your Greens Intake Slowly
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Brodsky recommends aiming for nine servings of greens each day, which you can slowly achieve through baby steps. "Start at the grocery store by choosing one colorful new vegetable, fruit, whole grain, or bean each week to keep things interesting, fun, and seasonal," she suggests. "Check out new recipes, watch interesting documentaries, chat with friends about their meal ideas, and make your own lunch whenever possible."
6. Remember to Breathe When Setting Intentions
Breathing is so powerful and can help provide some sense of calmness and centeredness. So don't forget to breathe when you're tackling something, like a goal or task. "Take a deep breath, just one single breath, to transition you to the next moment," Brodsky says. "It is hard enough to find time to meditate, but just about everyone can bring their awareness to their breath for ONE, single, deep, cleansing, purifying breath."
7. Go to Bed Earlier
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"Resolving to get to bed a little earlier so you can get a full seven to eight hours of sleep each night has a cascading effect on all the other areas of your life," Zellner says. "Better sleep is associated with better dietary choices, decision making, productivity, and mood!" You can start small with this, too—you don't have to go to bed two hours earlier than your bedtime. Instead, try 15 minutes earlier first.
8. Find a Way to Move That You Love
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You might be stuck in a fitness rut, so trying out new classes can be a fun experiment and is a much lower commitment than signing up for a 30-day bootcamp. "If you have no idea where to begin, then I'd recommend trying something like ClassPass so you can try a bunch of different modalities and find the movement that resonates with you," Zellner says. "Ultimately, the scientific literature supports consistency in movement over any particular class or genre. So find the way to move that makes you feel great, and aim to do it a few times per week."
9. Think About Your Posture
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Black recommends having more "posture awareness" when sitting or standing. It's as simple as just straightening out your back when you realize you're slouching. Good posture can prevent any injury or pain and promote balance.
10. Think About One Positive Thing
Grinceri suggests taking up some "baseline" habits, which are pretty much what we talked about above: drinking more water, staying active for at least 15 minutes a day, getting sleep. Another habit is positive thinking. He recommends thinking about one thing that makes you feel happiness, joy, or love. "Baseline habits become the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, " he says. "After establishing your baseline, you can use it as your go-to method to reset your daily habits."
11. Ask Yourself Why
A little introspection could be the key to achieving all of these small intentions. "Find your 'why.' Why is this goal so important to you?" Zellner says. "How will your life improve once you've achieved this goal? Really take the time to visualize you and your life on the other side of this goal or resolution. Find emotion, logic, and purpose in your why so it becomes your most powerful ally in your health journey."
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.