When the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, talk of resolutions for the New Year typically abounds. And it’s no secret that weight or fitness resolutions tend to top most people’s list of resolutions, for one reason or another. I am here to advocate against these types of resolutions. Why, you might ask? Well first and foremost, these resolutions are clearly detrimental to recovery. Resolving to stick to some diet or hit up the gym daily may actually be resolving to listen to ED’s siren call. Also, appearance-related resolutions are boring and uninspired. Why resolve to do the same thing that everyone else is doing when you could march to the beat of your own drum? Additionally, these types of resolutions are personally degrading and are a set-up for failure. Don’t make your main goal for the next year of your life to alter your appearance! Resolve to pour your time and energy into something more personally fulfilling, such as a new hobby. Finally, statistically speaking, only 8% of people successfully keep New Year’s resolutions, and that number decreases when only taking into account those who make weight and fitness-related resolutions.
So instead of resolving to join some lame gym, try undertaking one of these goals come 12:01, 2016. Make this the year of bringing healthy habits in, and kicking ED’s butt out!
- Accept your body: That’s right. The opposite of what most people resolve. Spend some serious time trying to provide your body with exactly the type of treatment that you know it deserves. Body love too lofty of a goal? That’s fine! Simply working on being ok with the body that you were born with. Work on appreciating the functional aspects of your most precious gift, your physical being. Body love will come.
- Do one thing that scares you for every year that you have been alive: Are you twenty years old? Then make a resolution for 2016 that you will do twenty things that scare you before the year is up. Scared to take some time off school or work for that much-needed vacation? Do it. Shaking in your boots when you think about cutting off your hair into that pixie cut that you have always secretly adored? Go for it. 2016 will be the year of conquering those pesky fears.
- Find a new hobby: Studies show that one of the most protective factors for self-esteem is having a hobby that one can lose themselves in from time to time. Explore the activities or crafts that you have always wanted to try, but never have. Take up knitting, buy a coloring book, take a jazz class, ask your Dad to show you how to change the oil or fix the alternator (too much?) Find new outlets to funnel your creative energy into.
- Volunteer somewhere: Make 2016 the year of giving back. Apply to walk dogs at your local animal shelter. Help out at the soup kitchen down the road. See if there is a hospice program in your area that accepts volunteers. When we spend time and energy giving back to those in need, we inevitably end up receiving much, much more than we give.
- Less things, more gratitude: Make a rule that you will buy less material items in 2016. Why? So that you can focus on appreciating what you do have. We live in a consumerist economy, and while I am just as up for a self-care mall trip as the next girl, acquiring things rarely leads to long-term mood changes. Instead it leads us to appreciate what we have less and want more of what we don’t have. Set a goal of not buying clothes for the next three months, vow to limit your shoe shopping sprees, or promise yourself that you will not buy anymore throw pillows for the next year. Then be sure to begin noticing all the wonderful things that you already have in your life by journaling about one thing that you are grateful for each day.
- Challenge your appearance rules: Take one day a week off from wearing make-up. Go to the grocery store in sweats. Wear something that you love but told yourself “is for other body types.” Challenge at least ten random appearance-based rules that you have made for yourself at some point throughout the New Year.
- Take on five major tasks that you have been putting off: Paint that room, apply for that new job, start searching for that new apartment. Make a list of your top five tasks that you have been putting off, but that you know must be done eventually and DO THEM. Thing about how good it will feel to check each one off of the list.
- Reach out to more people: Do you, like most of us, constantly find yourself wishing that you reached out to old friends or family more often? Make it a goal to actually do so in 2016. Life gets busy quickly, so it’s easy to put off phone calls or tell yourself that you will write that letter later. But there is no substitute for lasting connections with those who truly touch your heart, so pencil in weekly time for reaching out. You will feel better, I promise.
- Take a class: Sign up for that sign language course. Take the American literature class that you have been dying to do. Pick the course that you have always wanted to take on, and sign up. Don’t think, just do. You can thank yourself come 2017 when you are a wiz in sign language (or Spanish, or English literature, or whatever).
- Limit your social media usage: We are a phone-obsessed culture. Instagram, facebook and twitter take up far more time than most of us would like to admit. Set a daily or weekly limit for yourself for social media usage (i.e. “I will only check social media once a day”) and then stick to it! Then find something fun to do with all of your extra time!
Happy New Year Warriors!