2020 was a challenging year characterized by isolation, uncertainty, and fear. This year has taught us gratitude and how to give thanks for things we would generally take for granted. From friends and family to health, there is so much to be thankful for as we enter the year 2021. What’s a better way to express thanks than by using our gratitude to guide our New Year’s resolutions?
As you map out your 2021 New Year’s resolutions, focus on attainable goals that boost your health and overall quality of life. While resolutions will vary from individual to individual, below are seven positive ways to refocus your energy in 2021.
1. Keep a Positive Mindset
Research shows that maintaining a positive mindset comes with a host of health benefits. According to the findings, positivity has been linked to a lower risk of memory loss, quicker recovery from illness, injury or disability, a lower risk of chronic disease, decreased feelings of loneliness and isolation, and an increased likelihood for seeking preventative care.
Positive thinking doesn’t mean wearing rose-colored glasses all the time or ignoring difficult feelings. Rather, it means stressing less about the things you cannot change, focusing on those you can, and, all the while, remembering what is good in life.
If you struggle to maintain a positive outlook with everything going on in the world, incorporate positive thinking exercises into your daily routine. Examples include making a gratitude list, practicing mindful breathing, and treating yourself as you would for a friend.
2. Commit to 10 Minutes of Exercise Daily
Staying active is not just the key to healthy aging, but also, it may be the key to a longer life. Though the research behind the positive effects of exercise on aging is extensive, the findings from a 30-year study effectively sum them up. Per the findings, incorporating an exercise regime of walking, jogging, or cycling in seniors can drastically improve physiological characteristics such as blood pressure, resting heart rate, maximum pumping capacity, and muscle mass. For some people, the improvements are so significant that baseline levels match those from their early 20s.
While you don’t have to get up and run a marathon, you should dedicate a portion of your day to fitness. Just 10 minutes of swimming, walking, or yoga can make a huge difference in your health, happiness, and lifespan.
3. Make Better Dietary Choices
As you age, you will need to consume fewer calories but more nutrients. Your health care provider can help you make better food choices, but, ultimately, you should strive to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Choose whole grains over refined ones and lean meats over fatty options. Use healthier fats, such as olive or avocado oil, and cook with natural spices to reduce salt and fat intake.
4. Quit Smoking
It’s never too late to quit smoking. Regardless of your current age, quitting now can reduce your risk of developing several health problems and improve your overall quality of life. For instance, individuals who quit claim to have more energy, sleep better, and breathe easier.
5. Play With Your Grandkids
Though the reasons behind the phenomenon are multi-faceted, research shows that elderly individuals who spend more quality time with their grandchildren live longer and have better physical and mental health outcomes than those who do not. For instance, 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. Findings from a 2014 study showed that individuals who watched their grandchildren once a week scored higher on cognitive tests than those who never did.
6. Stimulate Your Mind
Regularly challenging your brain is one of the best ways to stay mentally sharp as you age. It’s also one of the best ways to reduce your risk of memory loss or developing dementia. Simple things such as reading daily, doing crosswords, or joining a book club are great and fun ways to ensure your body’s most important muscle receives an adequate workout.
7. Reach Out to Old Friends, and Make New Ones
Studies show that socially active older adults have better cognition, lower risks of disability and depression, and overall better health. Social media makes it easy to find and reach out to old friends, while elder living communities provide ample opportunity to make new ones.
Be intentional in your goal setting for 2021, if for no other reason than to make up for the time you lost in 2020. Use the aforementioned seven seniors’ New Year’s resolutions to guide you.