The New Year means a fresh start— and the perfect time to take a look at your life and see what’s working and what isn’t. It’s THE opportunity to set some goals for your self … and see them through.
We’ve tapped GalTime’s amazing experts to get their tips on the Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions and how to keep them. From spending time with those that matter most to tuning “out.” From taking care of your body with healthy eating and exercise-- to making a commitment to help others. GalTime’s experts are sharing their top techniques for making your resolutions a reality.
1. SPEND MORE TIME WITH YOUR LOVED ONES
With the busy schedules most families and couples keep today, they are often hard-pressed when it comes to setting aside enough “together time,” says Jennifer Oikle, Ph.D., relationship psychologist and dating coach at My Soulmate Solution.
However, making time for each other is essential to fostering and sustaining relationships. “Without meaningful connection, our bonds quickly lose their luster and can easily become one more thing to check off your list,” Oikle says.
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One quick and easy way to bring the sparkle back to your relationships in the New Year is to have a weekly Gratitude Party, recommends Oikle. “Once a week, make it a ritual to gather your family members for 5-20 minutes (and) take turns telling each other what you were grateful for during the last week. You can appreciate anything, big or small, such as a pretty sunset, your playful pooch, or a pat on the back at work, but do be sure to share some things you appreciated about each other too, such as socks picked up off the floor, a nice home cooked meal, or an unexpected note. Keep going until you can’t think of anything more!
In a short time, you’ll uplift each other and bond around what matters most—taking your relationships to the next level. You might find you enjoy it so much that you decide to make it an evening ritual every day!”
2. TURN OFF THE TECHNOLOGY
Another way to strengthen the bonds you have with family and friends is to make an effort to occasionally pull yourself away from those same gadgets—cell phones, Internet, etc.—that also help to keep us connected with those we care about.
Shortly after Jennifer Jolly, Tech Lifestyle Editor from Tecca.com, got married last May, her husband dared her that she wouldn’t be able to put down her smartphone, laptop, and tablet for an entire weekend. Jolly accepted the challenge, thinking that going “tech-free” for the weekend would be easy—but it was just the opposite.
“I barely made it two hours. It was an epic fail,” Jolly said, adding, “Since then, I’ve had to learn how to disconnect from all of my high tech devices in order to truly re-connect with my family.”
For those looking to do the same in the New Year, Jolly offers these tips on how to unplug yourself and recharge your life:
Create a daily tech time out: Whether it’s while you’re walking the dog, driving to work, or during dinnertime, devote at least one hour each day to putting devices, like cell phones, out of sight.“My parents always made us turn off the TV while my family sat down to dinner. So that’s our daily ritual now—no TV, cell phones, tablets, or technology of any kind (except maybe a little background music)—during dinnertime,” Jolly said, noting, “This no tech zone lasts from one hour before to one hour after dinnertime. When it all comes down to it, no one is as important as my husband and daughter. I owe it to them to get all of my attention for at least an hour or two everyday.”
No technology in the bedroom(s): Jolly also recommends keeping items, like iPods or cell phones, out of the bedroom. “Instead of recharging our devices next to our bed, all tech goes to bed in our office now. That goes for my daughter’s iPod, our iPhones, everything. (There’s) no TV either. There’s a time and place for everything. At the very core, getting a handle on our technological addictions are about creating boundaries and learning to stick with them,” she says.
Establish social media free zones: Social media can really suck up a lot of your time, Jolly admits. And if you don’t think it does, she suggests putting yourself to the test. “Jot down how much time you think you spend on social media everyday and then keep a journal (to record the actual amount of time) for one day. Many of us are simply addicted to social media with no thought of how it’s impacting our real social lives.” To help avoid getting caught up in all the online news and gossip, “set a realistic time limit (like 20 minutes a day) to pay attention to all the posts, pokes, and tweets,” Jolly recommends. “This makes it possible to actually be social with the people who surround you at work and at home.”
Turn it off: If you’re having a conversation with someone, turn the device off so you can focus on what the person is saying, Jolly says. “It’s a whole lot easier to pay attention to your spouse or child if your cell phone isn’t vibrating or sending you messages.”
Leave the tech behind: “Whether it’s for a few hours at the park or an entire two week vacation, you have to learn to take the tech leash off every once and awhile,” Jolly stresses. “Most of us like our freedom—cherish it, in fact—so, you should actually experience it every once and awhile. I know you’ll feel like you’re going to miss something at work, but you won’t. Remember the whole boundary thing? If your devices aren’t around, no phone calls or e-mails can pull you away and you can then fully engage with the people around you.”
3. EAT HEALTHFULLY
Many women start off the New Year with a resolution to lose weight. However, even those with the best of intentions often give up after a few weeks because they are dieting in ways that aren’t easy to adhere to or fulfilling.
“Instead of making a resolution to lose weight, try making a resolution that involves incorporating more of the foods that you know you’re not getting enough of (like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low fat dairy products) into your diet each and every day,” suggests Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, founder/president of Zied Health Communications and author of Nutrition At Your Fingertips.
“Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits can aid in weight management by providing fiber and a lot of water,” Zied says. “If you set a goal to include more of them, you’ll likely leave less room for nutrient-poor foods that pack in lots of fat and/or sugar and calories—that can help you curb your overall calorie intake. You’ll also get more nutrients in your diet overall and that can certainly make your body work better when it comes to supporting healthful weight management.”
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To achieve this, Zied recommends tackling one food group during each week of the month in January. For example, she says, if you know you typically have only one whole grain a day (e.g., 1 cup of flaky whole grain cereal at breakfast), then aim to have two more in total—at lunch, dinner, or in between main meals. You can choose any combo of the following (each equals a 1 oz equivalent of whole grains):
• 1 slice of whole wheat bread to make a 1/2 sandwich;
• 5 whole grain crackers with an ounce of cheese cubes, a tablespoon of natural peanut butter, or a few teaspoons of low fat ricotta cheese;
• 3 cups of air popped popcorn topped with a teaspoon of grated parmesan cheese; or
• 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta or brown rice
If you figure out where you start from in terms of your daily intake and set specific goals, you’re much more likely to achieve them.
Overall, “my best advice is to make specific resolutions that are positive and realistic for you. The more concrete you are and the more time you spend thinking about how you'll go about achieving your goal, the more likely you are to be successful,” says Zied.
4. EXERCISE MORE
Making exercise a daily part of your life is also essential to achieving optimal health and well being. Meeting with a personal trainer to create a workout that’s right for you is a great way to get started, if you’re not yet exercising on a regular basis. Nicole Glor, a personal trainer and fitness expert who appears regularly on Fox and Friends, also suggests adding yoga to your well-rounded, cross-training routine. “The discipline and mind-body connection will help you stick to resolutions and make mindful choices in food and fitness,” Glor says.
5. HELP OTHERS
It’s easy to get consumed in the daily drama that surrounds us, and sometimes it feels as if the weight of the world is on our shoulders. Giving back to those in need in our community is a great way to help remind us of the many blessings we do have in our lives. In fact, Karen Bantuveris, founder and CEO of VolunteerSpot.com, finds that year after year, many people chose to make engaging in volunteer service one of their New Year’s resolutions for that reason and many others. “We’re encouraged when we see so many folks prioritize giving back to their communities and helping those in need,” she adds.
For those looking to volunteer their time, Bantuveris recommends checking out VolunteerSpot’s free online sign-up sheets. “(They) make it simple for more people to get involved in local volunteering by giving everyone the tools to organize service projects at school, non-profits, faith groups, and community organizations.”
Depending on your interests and availability, many organizations have a wide array of needs that volunteers can assist with. For example, Enable Inc., a New Jersey based organization that provides residential services and in-homes supports to people with disabilities, utilizes volunteers in many ways, from simply having them visit the individuals they serve to making repairs or painting at the group homes where they live.
No matter what you decide to do, most organizations welcome any level of help they can get. “People commit to make a difference both by simple and grand ways, and that feels good and rewards people in meaningful ways,” Bantuveris said.
Even though it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle this time of year, taking time to give back to those in need will not only make their holiday season brighter, but it will certainly lift your spirits as well.
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