Most New Years’ resolutions are health-related. The majority of American adults know that they need to eat healthier, work out more, and get more sleep. Unfortunately, most New Years’ resolutions are abandoned after a few months of effort. Goal setting strategy is often to blame for these failures. People take on too much at one time or try to achieve a good thing for the wrong reasons and can’t stay motivated. With the right mindset, you can achieve your goals and improve your health. Here are four tricks that will help you prioritize your health in 2021:
1. Set Boundaries
One of the most common reasons people don’t prioritize their physical and mental health is because they struggle to say “No.” Setting boundaries around your time can give you the space you need to put your health first. This will look different for different people. Maybe you need to reach out to your support system and find someone willing to look after your kids three times a week while you go to the gym. Or if stress is taking a toll on your health, maybe you need to cut something out of your schedule or adjust your expectations of yourself so you can have more free time and feel more relaxed.
A great example of how boundaries affect health is the sleep deprivation epidemic. Studies show that most American’s are chronically sleep-deprived. This has detrimental short and long-term side-effects on physical and mental functioning, and most people know that they need more sleep. So why don’t they get it? According to several studies, bedtime procrastination is the most common reason American adults don’t get enough sleep. This usually stems from being overly busy and feeling that the hours before bed have to be used to catch up on tasks like chores and paperwork, or as the only time when a person can relax and have “me time.” Alternatively, some people simply lose track of time and end up playing Xbox or watching Netflix much longer than they intended.
Both of these problems can be solved. Try setting aside a different time to do chores or watch TV. This could be a weekend or in the morning before work or on your lunch break. With less to do after dinner, it will be easier to wind down for bed. Another option that works well for both types of procrastination mentioned above is to set a goal and go to bed after it’s complete. You could say I’m going to load the dishes and then go to bed, or I’m going to watch one episode of my favorite t.v show and go to bed when it’s over. Of course, you have to hold yourself to these goals, and that will take practice. Over time, it is possible to develop routines and plans that allow you to get to bed on time or achieve other goals for your health.
2. Know Your “Why”
Setting time aside for yourself can be difficult, and changing habits is always a struggle. People who have a clear idea of why they are trying to form a new habit usually have more success than people who don’t. You are also more likely to be successful if your “why” has personal meaning to you. For instance, the smoker who tries to quit because they don’t want emphysema is more likely to quit than the smoker who tries because they know other people think they should.
Making a list of potential health goals and noting your reason for the goal can be a useful exercise for determining which goals you want to prioritize first. The ones with the strongest “why” motivator are the ones you are most likely to achieve.
3. Choose Attainable Goals
Once you’ve decided what to prioritize, it’s time to set specific goals to get you to your desired result. Often people set vague goals like “lose weight” or “quit smoking.” Breaking these down into more specific steps and actions can help set you up for success.
For instance, if your goal is to lose weight in 2021, it can help to know how many pounds you need to lose. Step one should be to talk to your health care provider and find out your ideal weight and how much you can safely expect to lose per week or month. If you’ve struggled to lose weight in the past and become demotivated, it may be better to base your goals on actions you can take instead of pounds lost. You have complete control over how often you go to the gym or what you put on your plate. Your body may or may not react the way you want. Even if you don’t lose the amount of weight, you’d like to lose, taking satisfaction from sticking to a workout routine or eating healthier can help you stick with these habits and lead to more weight loss and better overall health in the coming years.
With any goal you have, it is best to start small and work your way up to where you want to be. If you currently smoke three packs a day, a first step might be cutting back to two and a half packs, then two, then one and a half, and so on. As you see yourself making progress, you will be more motivated to continue working towards quitting.
Some goals, including weight loss, managing stress, or overcoming addiction, might require professional help. Committing to seeing a therapist regularly or hiring a personal trainer can provide the professional guidance and the accountability partner you need to succeed. Being honest about the level of help you need can make the difference between a year of success or a year of frustration.
4. Find a Healthcare Team That Has Your Back
No matter your health goals, you need to know that the health professionals you see are competent and understand your needs. Many Americans are switching to holistic health practitioners who understand how the body’s systems work together and recommend lifestyle changes and treatments that treat the root of the problem instead of just masking symptoms. If you aren’t happy with your current health care provider, one good goal for 2021 would be to find a new one.
Start by finding out which providers in your area are covered by your insurance. Some providers also have reasonable pricing specifically for those who are uninsured. See a few of them and ask questions about how much experience they have treating your health concerns and what their philosophy of treatment is.
A good chiropractor who has experience treating a wide variety of concerns with several different treatment methods can be a useful addition to your health care team. Chiropractic care can help with smoking cessation, digestive issues, aches and pains, and stress management. Adding alternative health treatments to your health care plan can help you overcome bad habits and health problems that are holding your health goals back.