New Year’s resolutions you should make based on science – and how to keep them

A person lies in the grass while reading a book in Central Park on May 22, 2022 in New York City.

A person lies in the grass while reading a book in Central Park on May 22, 2022 in New York City.David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

  • Every New Year, people make far-reaching New Year’s resolutions that they find difficult or impossible to keep.

  • Next year, focus on goals that will help you improve your health while being measurable and achievable.

  • Here’s how to enter 2023 with clear resolutions backed by science that will help you live a better life.

The most common New Year’s resolutions are often vague goals about losing weight, eating healthier or achieving more.

But most people fail to follow through on their New Year’s resolutions, largely because they are so general and non-specific. Nearly 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions drop it before January 19, according to a 2019 study by the fitness app Strava, Inc.

However, using specific, measurable goals and science-backed resolutions can increase your chances of successfully transforming your life in 2023. Here are some of the best health and productivity fix ideas that can help you get closer to your goals this New Year.

Changing your sleep habits can help you think better and feel better.

Woman sleeping.

Sleeping better can improve a host of other health problems.Kilito Chan/Getty Images

Getting good, deep sleep can help your brain process memories and information and flush out toxins. Getting the right amount of rest can also help regulate your metabolism, which may reduce cravings, according to Today.

In the long run, sleep could be even more important, as research shows that getting too little sleep in your 50s and 60s can increase your risk of dementia, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Sleep expert Matthew Walker, author of the book “Why We Sleep,” previously told Insider that you really can’t get by on six or seven hours of sleep — the vast majority of people need an average of eight hours a night. To improve your sleep, experts recommend avoiding alcohol, continuing to exercise regularly and avoiding screens right before bed, according to CNBC.

Decide to move.

A group of runners in Corona, California.

A group of runners in Corona, California.K. C. Alfred/Getty Images

Exercise resolutions are common and for good reason. Besides restoring your sleep, little else has such a transformative effect on your life as getting moving. The trick is figuring out the targeted exercise routine that will work for you – resolving that you simply “go to the gym more” probably won’t be enough.

According to The New York Times, regular, moderate exercise can improve your physical health by preventing cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Exercise can also improve your mental health, decreasing your chances of developing depression and anxiety, The New York Times reported.

But the best workout resolution is one you’re likely to keep.

Young woman practicing yoga in a park in Boise, Idaho.

Young woman practicing yoga in a park in Boise, Idaho.Tony Anderson/Getty Images

Don’t make a workout resolution that you know you won’t keep. If you’re a late riser or simply don’t have time in the morning, decide to develop an evening routine. Likewise, if you know you’re not a gym person, don’t waste your money signing up for a membership. According to Bloomberg, the peak in January gym attendance drops after just a few weeks, so don’t fall for it if you’re not committed.

Experts recommend looking for an activity you’re likely to do on a regular basis. That could be rock climbing, swimming, running, yoga, or just daily walks with a friend or pet. According to KHOU-TV, you can also find ways to work on your regular errands.

If you’re going to try a diet in the new year, choose a way to eat healthily that’s backed by science.

People shop for fruit at the Union Square Farmers Market on July 13, 2022 in New York City.

People shop for fruit at the Union Square Farmers Market on July 13, 2022 in New York City.Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images

Just like with exercise, if you want to develop better eating habits, try to choose foods that you really like and be open to something new.

Focus on the quality of the foods you eat, such as healthy vegetables, protein and whole grains, and cut back on processed foods and sugars whenever possible, advises Harvard Health Publishing. A simple solution to eating healthier could be to cook one meal a week without pre-prepared ingredients.

That said, be aware that your weight isn’t the only measure of your health, and keep an eye out for behaviors that could lead to an eating disorder. According to Harvard, behaviors such as painstakingly counting calories are not a healthy or reliable way to manage your diet.

Reduce alcoholic drinks.

Group of friends drinking

Reducing alcohol consumption can improve your liver and heart health, studies show.The Good Brigade/Getty Images

While many ring in the New Year with glasses of champagne, millions will also decide to partake in Dry January. In early 2022, a third of American adults said in a survey that they abstained from voting for the entire month of January, according to CNN.

Drinking less can relieve stress on your liver and lower your risk of heart disease, according to Healthline. It may also support weight loss and reduce the risk of some cancers, the outlet reported.

But experts recommend moderation, because a sudden stop can cause sleep and anxiety problems for those who drink regularly, Insider previously reported. Some studies have also shown that the occasional drink is beneficial for the heart.

If you want to be more productive, decide to take more breaks and work less.

Tourists enjoy the beach as a couple in coats endure the crisp, breezy late spring weather at Nye Beach in Newport, Oregon.

Tourists enjoy the beach as a couple in coats endure the crisp, breezy late spring weather at Nye Beach in Newport, Oregon on June 16, 2019.Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Learn to listen to yourself when you need breaks, and take them more often. This advice can apply on a day-to-day and long-term basis.

While we may think we can last an eight or 10-hour day, the brain can only do heavy mental work for four or five hours a day, according to The Washington Post. One expert told the Post that for every two hours of concentrated work, you should take a 20 to 30 minute break.

Don’t forget to take breaks on a larger scale as well. Agree with yourself that you will listen to your body if you show signs of burnout in 2023 and make sure you use all your vacation days.

You might also decide to start reading regularly.

A person lies in the grass while reading a book in Central Park on May 22, 2022 in New York City.

A person lies in the grass while reading a book in Central Park on May 22, 2022 in New York City.David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Studies have shown that reading can make it easier to empathize with others, reduce stress and promote memory retention, according to The New York Times.

Tech and finance stars such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffett agree on the many benefits of books. They often attribute much of their success to regular reading habits.

Plus, reading is just a fun, easy way to pass the time and take a break from the internet-connected world. The Times recommends leaning into whatever style of reading you enjoy (such as novels, short stories, memoirs, or poetry) and focusing on reading for pleasure.

Choose a goal: one book per month or even one book per week, depending on how much you’ve already read. Join a book club if the prospect of chatting with friends (probably over snacks and drinks) will encourage you to turn the pages.

Spend your free time doing exactly what you like.

Hikers walk past steam vents and hot springs in the Norris Basin in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, on Sept. 23, 2022.

Hikers walk past steam vents and hot springs in the Norris Basin in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, on Sept. 23, 2022.George Rose/Getty Images

Sometimes it feels like life moves at a mile a minute, leaving little time for relaxation or just doing what you love. Make 2023 the year you follow your luck and do more of what you really enjoy.

Harvard professor and author Arthur Brooks told Harvard Magazine that happiness is a function of pleasure, satisfaction and purpose. Brooks advised people to focus on strengthening their “four pillars” of family, faith, friends, and work—rather than chasing money, power, pleasure, and others’ admiration or approval.

Decide that 2023 will be the year you spend your time and money on experiences that make you happy.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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