20 Achievable New Year's Resolutions for Building a Healthy, Happy Life
Friday Dec 22nd, 2023
Make 2024 your year with these goals that will help you look and feel your best.
For many people, the start of a new year marks an opportunity to reflect on their life, and think about where they would like to be in the future. And while New Year resolutions may get a bad rap for encouraging unrealistic goals or placing pressure on us, they can also be a great starting point to prioritize your health and wellness on your own terms. That may look like embracing totally attainable goals that don’t focus so much on an overhaul of your current life, but more so make room for slowly adapting new routines and habits that will make you feel great about yourself.
Starting small could look like making an effort to reset your sleep schedule and prioritizing having a bedtime. Or it may start with your home, beginning to organize one room at a time, first focusing on your closet and later getting to your kitchen. Still, it could be as simple as taking control of your thoughts and incorporating inspiring quotes and daily affirmations into your morning routine. In any case, the achievable resolutions below aim to relieve stress, minimize anxiety (not add to it) and improve your overall well-being.
Even if the path to reinventing yourself starts off a little rocky, you can always get back on track at any time throughout the year. So, take the time to scroll through the options below, maybe pick your top five to focus on and remember 2024 is your year, so treat yourself like it!
1. Start a gratitude journal.
Keeping track of things, people and events that you're grateful for throughout the year can help you to improve your mental and physical wellness. "It literally breathes new life into us. It recharges and it rejuvenates," Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis and founder of a research lab that studies the effects of grateful living, told ABC News. And it doesn't have to take up much time. Just a few minutes a day can make all the difference.
2. Make time for family.
With the busyness of our daily lives, it can be difficult to prioritize spending time with loved ones, especially if they live far away or have hectic schedules themselves. But this year, make a conscious effort to carve out that one-on-one time, whether it's by planning monthly family dinners or simply FaceTiming once a week to check in.
3. Build a better budget.
If there's one New Year's resolution that will help you the most in the long run, it's making a vow to save more money.
Before you head back to the office in January, outline a rough budget that works for you — and make a plan for how you'll stick to it. Budgeting apps can help you do this as painlessly as possible. And supercharge your shopping habits by rethinking when and how you buy things for your home and family; often, there are savings you're leaving on the table.
4. Practice mindfulness.
Anxiety can nag at anyone during any season, in all parts of life — and it can be easy to let the idea of the future or past experiences inform your reality of the present. Practicing mindfulness means doing everything you can to be grateful for what you have in the moment, where you are in life, and who you are right now, shared Sabrina Romanoff, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in New York City and Yeshiva University professor. Romanoff and other leading psychological experts say committing to mindfulness can help you become a better person in less than a year's time.
5. Cook something new each week.
Everyone wants to eat healthier in the new year, but you should also try to eat more diverse foods. After all, variety is the spice of life. This year, choose an easy dinner recipe you've never tried before at least once a week.
6. Read More Books
January is the perfect time of year to snuggle up with a new book. To keep yourself accountable all year long, why not link up with friends and peers to connect over the best pages you've read? Our Good Housekeeping Book Club can help you get started on this and, together, you'll have a clear snapshot of how many books you'll end up finishing before the year's out.
7. Create a cleaning schedule you'll stick to.
Keeping your home tidy without doing what feels like a deep clean every week can feel like a big ask. It's true that you may be under cleaning some tricky spots, but it's also true that you may be overdoing it elsewhere.
Carolyn Forté, executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab, created a printable checklist to make sure keeping the house neat doesn't suck up endless hours of time on weekends anymore.
8. Drink less alcohol.
You already know you don't need to drink to have fun — so why not make this year the one you cut back and join the sober curious movement? Doing so can help to improve your mood, sleep, skin and your immune system. Plus, it'll also help you save money in the long run.
9. Good Housekeeping Make dinner easier.
Stop asking yourself if you have the time to cook — and rather focus on the kinds of recipes you can set and forget! While some are more indulgent than others, these handy recipes and quick-thinking culinary ideas developed by the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen are designed to make your kitchen routine so much easier. You'll embrace your oven, Instant Pot and slow cooker to create kitchen magic in half the time.
10. Commit to a healthier sleep routine.
So many issues can be traced back to a poor night's sleep. And yet, there is so much more that we can aim to improve beyond a reasonable bedtime. Creating a plan to improve your sleep hygiene — the habits you maintain to get good sleep every night — may look different for everyone, as it depends on when you need to be active and working throughout the day. Your brain relies on cues to regulate your internal circadian rhythm, and the choices you make throughout the day can interfere with these. Start taking charge of your sleep by mastering these 10 to-dos as the year progresses.
11. Join a club.
Starting a new hobby is one thing, but joining a club will help you meet new people in the process. Sites like Meetup can help you find a group of people with similar interests, and you can work on creating meetups with new friends in the process.
Creative clubs can also be a boon in helping you stick to mastering a new craft.
12. Quit smoking.
Cigarettes are extremely harmful for your health, particularly your lungs — but tobacco products in general (including vapes!) pose a serious threat. There are so many resources to help you get a jumpstart on ditching tobacco: Many are touted by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you've tried before but need a bit more help, experts at the American Cancer Society outline a few tools that you can turn to this year.
13. Learn to love vegetables.
Whether you're working on weight management or towards a balanced diet, vegetables are your friends, says Stefani Sassos M.S., R.D.N., C.S.O., C.D.N., NASM-CPT, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Nutrition Lab.
Fiber-rich vegetables are especially crucial for healthy hearts and strong veins: "A heart-healthy diet emphasizes produce, balanced by fiber-rich whole grains, fish, nuts, legumes, and lean proteins," she says. The healthiest vegetables that you should try to eat daily often double down on gut-healthy fiber.
14. Prioritize annual health screenings.
Open your calendar app (or planner!) and make your appointments for the year in one sitting — not only will you get the anxiety-inducing nuisance over with, but exams will be less likely to get squeezed out as life gets bonkers. Start with your primary care provider, and ask which screenings (e.g., mammogram, colonoscopy) you're due for. Slot those in, then move on to the dentist's office and head over to your ophthalmologist, too.
15. Prevention Exercise your brain.
Scientists are always learning more about how humans work to stave off cognitive decline — and while data may be divided, if one thing is sure, games can indeed play a role here. Researchers at Duke University studied participants’ brain activity while they completed simple math problems and found that solving them feels like a reward, helping to curb negative feelings.
Playing the mind-boosting games featured in this Prevention special can help manage stress and anxiety, as well as boost happiness endorphins at the same time.
16. Become a plant owner.
Swing by the garden center after brunch this weekend. Just the presence of indoor plants can lower human stress levels, research shows, and one study found that actively caring for plants calmed the autonomic nervous system and lowered blood pressure.
And when people work near plants, they report greater concentration, satisfaction, and perceived air quality.
17. Take the stairs.
Take 10 minutes to run up the stairs in your office, home or nearby park. A published study in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that tired women who climbed stairs for 10 minutes got a bigger energy boost than those who had the caffeine equivalent of a can of soda or half a cup of coffee (and burned calories too!).
18. Start doing yoga with your partner.
A Sunday morning couples' class could make Sunday afternoon much more fun. Experts at Loyola's Sexual Wellness Clinic believe partner yoga helps couples get more comfortable with each other's bodies, supporting richer intimacy. Solo yoga can increase enjoyment as well, affecting arousal, desire, and satisfaction — the practice helps relax your mind and strengthen pelvic muscles.
19. Plan a vacation.
Women who vacation at least twice a year have a lower heart attack risk than those who do so rarely. And researchers have found that even thinking about an upcoming trip can boost happiness for weeks.
20. Head to a day spa.
It's time to treat yourself — and for good reason. Research indicates that spa services, particularly intensive massages, are effective in managing stress-related cortisol levels while boosting your serotonin, empowering individuals to regulate feelings of anxiety or sadness. A spa service can fulfill the need for human contact, especially under the guise of a licensed, qualified spa technician or massage therapist.
A day at the spa doesn't require you to jet on an otherwise expensive vacation; in fact, there are numerous leading day spas likely awaiting you just a road trip away. Visitors to The Spa at The Breakers can opt for a multitude of restorative services and work on practicing mindfulness for the rest of the day in their common spaces, which include saunas and a tranquil outdoor respite. Treating yourself to a day spa experience may be the key to stress relief you simply can't achieve at home.
BY ZEE KRSTIC AND CAMERON JENKINS