Remember how last year you made that resolution to give up carbs? Volunteer at the local shelter? Put away $500 from every paycheck? Stop judging people? Right. How are those working for you?
For 2016, rather than placing unrealistic expectations on yourself -- and saying "fuck it" on January 15th, subsequently dropping close to $1K on a new TV that you use to pass judgment on the stars of Vanderpump Rules while you inhale stuffed-crust pizza -- try making these achievable changes that might actually last until February. And if attempting them all feels too overwhelming, go for one to start.
Switch your drink of choice to [your favorite liquor] and seltzer
In spite of what you said at 11:31am on January 1st as you stared down another horrific hangover, consider this realistic option: seltzer > soda. Yes, even diet soda -- that stuff’s looking more and more like regular soda’s evil stepsister. You’re a grown-up now. You don't need several tablespoons of sugar (or aspartame) to make whiskey taste good. If you really want to go the extra mile and reduce the severity of your hangovers, opt for clear liquors, which tend to be lower in misery-inducing congeners.
Make it half-caf
Sure, you could switch to green tea. You could also give up sex and gluten and screens an hour before bed. These are supposed to be EASY. Coffee is both functional and experiential, so keeping some of the caffeine without doing the whole abstinence thing should help reduce jitters and improve the quality of your sleep. If you’re totally opposed to half-caffing in the morning, at least give it a whirl for that afternoon fix. And don’t use your Keurig as an excuse. You can get half-caf pods.
Take a daily probiotic
In case you’ve ignored every article relating to health for the past three years (possible!), let me introduce you to probiotics: the friendly bacteria in your gut that are responsible for optimal digestion, healthy weight, and positive mental health (among others). Studies just keep emerging touting the benefits of these babies, so add a broad-spectrum probiotic to your daily routine and thank me later. It's just like taking another vitamin.
Incorporate veggies into your breakfast
The most successful dietary changes come from adding, not taking away. So instead of saying no sugar/flour/dairy/fast food/etc., stave off the hanger with the good stuff. Veggies for breakfast, though? Yeah, it's really not that bad. Go for a savory oatmeal with sautéed spinach and mushrooms. Frittata with kale and eggplant. A green smoothie. Avocado toast with onion and tomato. Breakfast SALAD.
If you’re in a relationship, make one night a week date night
Life happens, and sometimes partners (and relationships) take a hit. Instead of promising to be a “better listener,” “more supportive,” or “more thoughtful,” commit to something that requires less abstract thought -- like date night. You don’t have to go full Casanova every week (takeout can be romantic); you just have to commit to not making other plans on that night. If you want to have date night multiple times a week, great, but this way you both know you have each other’s full attention one evening a week. Want some extra brownie points? Make a "no phones" rule.
Set up a small automatic withdrawal to a savings account
Make it a number that you’re not going to resent: $25 or $50. We’re talking less than a round of drinks. Yes you can. It takes one phone call (or even easier/more likely, internet trip) to the bank and you never have to think about it again.
Reach for your phone less frequently
People tend to pull out their phones whenever they feel the slightest hint of an uncomfortable feeling, whether it's boredom, anxiety, guilt, and so on. Instead of whipping out your phone the next time you’re in line, in an elevator, or waiting for the rest of your party at a restaurant, notice your urge to pull out your phone and stay with that. Consider resisting your desire to distract, and ask yourself what uncomfortable feeling you’re experiencing. Can you sit with it? Meditation doesn’t have to be about mantras and tiny stools. It starts with awareness.
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