Fitness & Exercise Mental Health Physical Health Wellness & Lifestyle

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

The clock strikes midnight, warm wishes for the new year are exchanged, and champagne is poured. With the official start of the new year came new resolutions, many of which had to with becoming healthier in some way or another. Generally, most people think about physical health and promise themselves to get in better shape, yet what people often do not realize is that better health encompasses not only the physical but also mental, social, and emotional health as well. Now that we’re about a third of the way through this year, what better time is there to look back for a bit and assess how we’re doing on them.

Physical Health

Every January, the gyms are crowded with folks eager to keep their New Year’s resolution, and every February, the gyms are abandoned again. How can you keep your workout plan going strong?

1. Be motivated.

What does it take to motivate you? It is easier to stick to a plan if it is for something you really, truly want. That driving desire will help keep you on track to your goal. For instance, you can put up motivational posters in your room or get new workout clothes that motivate you to exercise. If running on the treadmill or working out indoors isn’t your thing, try playing sports with friends or taking a fun dance class.

2. Ease your way into it.

If you start off your workout regime with too many rigid restrictions, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Start small and work your way up. If you decide to cut out all sweets and carbs for day one, for example, you’re more likely to just want those foods more. If you insist on doing an intense workout every day, you’ll soon grow tired and unmotivated. If you’re new to working out, start with walking 30 minutes three times a week, build it up to a run, and then add either more days or more time. Take it one step at a time.

3. Get a buddy.

Working out with a friend has doubled benefits. Having someone there to work out with you allows you to socialize, and before you know it, you’ve run a couple miles together! Also, having someone work out with you motivates you to keep going and not quit early. Offer each other support, and soon you’ll both be on your way to better physical and social health. You will feel better knowing that you’re in this together!

Social Health

No matter how busy you feel you are, try to make the time to meet with a friend for coffee or a lunch date every so often. Spending time with friends can be a good break from a hectic, busy schedule. This short anecdote sums it up the best: When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.”

“The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.”

“The sand is everything else—the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.”

“It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

Mental and Emotional Health

Do you feel unhappy with your life? If you find yourself feeling down most of the time, try to find the roots of your emotional distress and address the causes. Does being stressed out cause you to be bitter and impatient with friends and family? If so, try to cut down on the stressors in your life. If you feel overwhelmed with school and work, perhaps you can cut down on some of your extracurricular activities that you aren’t as devoted to. If you can’t do either of the above in your life, look into other ways of managing your stress, like going running, trying yoga, or looking into religion. This year, make a real effort to keep the resolution you set out to achieve at the beginning of the year, and you’ll find yourself feeling, thinking, and acting better.

Article by Loreen Atallah

Feature Image Source: Productivity501