Happy New Year! I hope 2020 is off to a peaceful start for you after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. An age old tradition at the start of a new year is to reflect on the previous year and consider any changes one would like to make in the coming months. The “New Year’s Resolution” is essentially a promise to yourself to make a change for the better, which often is a commitment to start a new habit in the name of wellness.
The HABIT© Healthy Action to Benefit Independence in Thinking program staff is experienced in helping people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and their support partners make healthy lifestyle changes in a way that is likely to stick. We work with people to come up with ideas for how to get into the habit of getting regular physical exercise, cognitive exercise, coping with stress, incorporating aspects of the MIND or Mediterranean Diets (more on this below!), and get a better night’s sleep.
In embarking on ANY lifestyle change, your mantra should be “slow and steady makes the habit.” One of the most common pitfalls people looking to make a new year’s resolution make is changing too much, too fast. We wrote about how to use a slow and steady approach to getting physical exercise a few months ago. For other changes, you can follow a similar approach.
- Identify the broad goal or change you want to make. For example, “eat healthier.”
- Break this big idea down into specific, clear goals that are small and manageable. You can always build on these after establishing success with the initial changes. So, you could look at a Mediterranean Diet guide and choose 2 changes to make that seem reasonable and appealing. (For example, Eat nuts 3 times per week, eat fish 2 times per week).
- Using a calendar/planner/journal, write down and schedule your goals for the coming months. (On Friday, January 10th, you might write – “make grilled salmon for dinner”, On Saturday, January 11th, you could pencil in “eat almonds for a snack”, and so on, making sure you hit the weekly targets you set)
- Plan ahead for any preparatory tasks you need to do to be successful. In our nutrition example, you’d need to schedule in grocery shopping for the items you want to consume, and may need to schedule the task of looking up a recipe for that grilled salmon.
- Check off the tasks you complete, and review your progress at the end of the month so you can remember what you’ve accomplished.
- Set new goals or write in a continuation of the previous goals before the next month begins.
- Be sure to give yourself credit (even just verbally acknowledging to yourself can help) for the progress you make!
If you’d like to connect with others looking to build new wellness habits, please check out the Mayo Clinic Connect Healthy Living group.
Comment below on your goals for the New Year!