You’ve been around the sun a few times by now, so it must be getting harder and harder to think of New Year’s resolutions that you’ll actually keep. Here are a few to help you stay as healthy as possible.
Get More Sleep
This one seems easy, right? It’s like, “I’m making a New Year’s Resolution to be lazy.” But the reality is that many seniors have difficulty falling or staying asleep, and that can have a big impact on your daily life. The goal is to aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night, because that’s the amount of rest experts say your body needs to maintain your immune system and support memory and concentration.
If you regularly battle insomnia, this resolution might not be as easy as setting an earlier bedtime. Here are a few tips for developing better sleep hygiene, as the experts say.
- Avoid having screens in your bedroom. This means TVs, computers, and yes, your cell phone.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages in the evening.
- Avoid alcohol as well: even a small amount of alcohol has a direct impact on the quality of sleep you get.
- Make a schedule and stick to it.
- Be active during the day and avoid naps.
- Keep your bedroom cool, comfortable, and quiet
Don’t Go On a Diet: Improve What You Eat
One of the most common resolutions people make every year is to go on some kind of diet. It’s well-intentioned but it sets the wrong frame of mind for starting off the year on the right foot. Instead of focusing on what you need to avoid eating, why not strategize about how to add healthier things to your diet?
It is recommended that you consume fewer calories but more nutrients as you age. The easiest way to do this is to incorporate more fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and nutrient-dense vegetables into your regular diet. Making healthier choices — like switching the type of oil you cook with, for example — doesn’t have to be restrictive or depressing. If you’re stuck for ideas, the internet is a treasure trove of delicious, healthy recipes you can try.
As empty-nesters and retirees, it can become more difficult to maintain friendships, but studies show that socially active older adults have better cognition, lower risks of disability and depression, and overall better health. This year, make a revolution to reach out to old friends — which is easier than ever with access to social media — and make new ones. Join a club. Start a book group. Enlist in an online seminar. Get creative, and find a way to interact with others that share common interests.
Engage Your Brain
Regularly challenging your brain is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of memory loss and stay mentally sharp.It can also be fun. Simple tasks like pleasure reading, doing crosswords, or playing puzzle games on your phone have proven to be effective for exercising the old noggin. So this year, your New Year’s resolution could be as easy as getting addicted to Candy Crush.
One of the easiest ways to stay healthy is to see your provider regularly; it’s easier to prevent illness than to treat it. So for your resolution this year:
- make that appointment you’ve been putting off
- agree to any screenings that are offered
- get vaccinated against the flu and other common viruses
- manage your medications
- wash your hands
Yeah, we know, this is another one of those resolutions that are so easy to break. This year, keep it reasonable and realistic. Don’t join a gym if you know that’s never worked in the past. Don’t tell yourself that this year you’ll work out five days a week if you’re currently not working out at all.
The key is to find something fun and engaging; You could try something new or re-invest in something you used to enjoy. Dance is a wonderful workout, and would help you stay social as well if you enrolled in a class. Biking, tai chi, water aerobics, and yoga are all popular low-impact exercises appropriate for all fitness levels. At the very least, follow these tips for simple ways you can do a little bit every day to stay strong.
Embrace a Positive Mindset
The new year is a good time to focus on being more mindful, and if you are feeling a bit lost, it’s a great time to find a new sense of purpose. You could try keeping a gratitude journal, volunteering, or seeking out a new hobby. Your resolution could be to just embrace aging in a positive way. Practicing positivity doesn’t mean ignoring difficult feelings. Instead stress less about the things you cannot change and focus on those you can.
Research shows that maintaining a positive mindset comes with a host of health benefits, such as:
- Lower risk of memory loss
- Quicker recovery from illness, injury, or disability
- Lower risk of chronic disease
- Decreased feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Increased likelihood for seeking preventative care
So make a resolution to treat yourself as you would a friend, and see the positive places it could take you.
Assess Your Finances
Unless you’re obscenely wealthy, assessing your finances can feel about as fun as anticipating a colonoscopy. But like said procedure, sometimes the preparation is worse than the actual thing itself. If going over your finances is something you dread, then the new year is the perfect time to get it over with (and perhaps resolve to do so annually from now on, as well.) Financial anxiety can lead to all kinds of health issues, and the best way to alleviate this source of stress is to face it head-on.
Evaluate Your Home
The long, cold stretch of winter that looms before us is a prime time to look around our homes and figure out what needs to get done. Aside from the usual touch-up jobs — maybe paint the floor trim to freshen things up, or something as simple as new bath mats for the guest room — are there bigger things you might need to consider? As we get older, we need to evaluate our homes for potential risks, and make improvements that could help us age in place. Make a resolution to ensure your home is ready (and this article can give you pointers) so that next year your resolution can be a bit more fun.
Speaking of fun, why not make a resolution to have more of it? One fantastic way to have more fun is to play with the grandkids, which can even have health benefits as well. Research shows that older individuals who spend more quality time with their grandchildren live longer and have better physical and mental health outcomes than those who do not. A 2016 study found that half of the grandparents who occasionally participated in their grandchildren’s lives were alive five years post-study, compared to individuals who had no involvement. And an earlier study showed that individuals wfho watched their grandchildren once a week scored higher on cognitive tests than those who never did. As an added bonus, if you make a resolution to watch your grandkids more often, you’ll have grateful children as well.
Other Articles You Might Enjoy:
- How to Stay Healthy Over the Holidays
- How to Exercise Safely in the Cold
- Retiring? Don’t Leave LinkedIn Quite Yet