Everyone’s back from their holiday vacations and stay-cations and I’ve started asking my patients, “What’s your New Year’s Resolution?” Most common response, “Oh, I don’t do those anymore, I always break them.” As of this writing, only one patient told me she had resolutions and they were solid; “Eat better” and she had a financial goal too.
So I started phrasing it a different way; “What are you working on this year?”
The responses came back nearly 100% with some positive change they were hoping to make during the year. Is this the end of New Year’s resolutions? Or are we just not comfortable calling them that? Is it the word “resolution” that bothers us?
It’s a good thing to reflect, review, and make changes as needed
Why not use the end of the year (or the start of the year) to reflect on what’s gone right and where you can improve? I start thinking about changes I want to make in November. I usually have a few days off around Thanksgiving and it’s a good time to start. I don’t have any final decisions about what I’ll be changing, but I start kicking it around. I just find that I start considering different options and think about what that might mean if I do it or don’t do it.
The new year gives us another opportunity, as many of us are off at some point in the final couple of weeks of the year. Once the craziness of Christmas passes, and you have a chance to catch your breath, spend some time taking stock of where you’re at and where you’d like to be. For the purpose of this post, let’s just talk about changes and improvements to our health.
What “small thing” could you change that would make the greatest impact to your health?
Most aspects of being healthy are at least somewhat under our control and are a direct result of our habits. Do you drink 5 diet cokes a day? That’s a habit. Do you stretch 3 – 5 times per week? That’s another habit. How much sleep do you get on average? You can have a night of restless sleep, but start doing that consistently and your health will suffer. It’s all habits — or what you do consistently that makes a difference.
If better health is just a matter of creating better habits, which healthy habit can you choose to make a difference? My wife had been using the Passion Planner in the past (I’ve used it off and on and will be using it this year), and is choosing a planner this year that helps you focus and commit to a habit for 30 days (Here’s an example on Amazon)
The planners just help you get your mind right for meaningful change. The 30 day planner asks that you commit to making some sort of change for 30 days and also asks, “What will you do to reward yourself if you do that thing every day for 30 days?” and you pick the reward! The Passion Planner asks you to look at your goals and then work backwards. The best part is the weekly and monthly “reflection” questions that ask you to self-evaluate how you did.
Start small, but make it meaningful
There are plenty of small ways to make a difference in your health, but will you feel any better? Will you notice a change? Drinking more water is very helpful and necessary to good health, but spending more time getting up to go to the bathroom may not make it as fun as you might like. And will you feel good about doing it? Will it move the needle towards better health?
Using a foam roller every day would be very helpful – like we recommend during our Level 2 exercises for better posture. Or maybe spending a few minutes each day stretching your hip rotators could have the biggest impact on how you feel. Your chiropractor would be happy to help you out with suggestions!
Based on the patients we see, I can tell you that if you’re not doing either one of those, you likely really need to do them. (Like really, really. Like, you should have been doing this already). Yesterday I had a patient come in with the tightest hip rotators I’ve ever seen. How he gets his shoes and socks on is a miracle!
The point is to choose something!
I don’t care if you call it a resolution, a goal, or something you’re working on. Becoming complacent in your health can have disastrous results down the road. The negative effects of poor food choices, lack of exercise, lack of mobility, and sitting at a computer all day are real. We see it every day.
Still, too often our patients come in with the approach that they “didn’t even do anything” that caused their neck or back to have pain. We do something every day. Will it help us or hurt us? Will it move us towards better health or worsening health? Will it help us be the strong and independent 80-year-old we might like to be or will it cause us to stop enjoying life at some point because “everything hurts” and “it’s just too hard to leave the house.”
It’s almost entirely the habits you cultivate, starting now.