New Year's resolutions you should make based on science — and how to keep them
Every new year, people make far-reaching New Year's resolutions that they struggle or fail to keep.
Next year, focus on goals that will help you improve your health while being measurable and attainable.
Here's how you can go into 2023 with clear resolutions that are backed by science and will help you live better.
The most common New Year's resolutions tend to be vague goals about losing weight, eating healthier, or accomplishing more.
But most people don't successfully follow through on their resolutions — largely because they're so general and non-specific. Nearly 80% of people who make a New Year's resolution drop it by January 19, according to 2019 research by the fitness app Strava, Inc. magazine reported.
However, using specific, measurable goals and science-backed resolutions, can boost your chances of successfully transforming your life in 2023. Here are some of the best health and productivity resolution ideas that can help you get closer to your goals this new year.
Fixing your sleeping habits will help you think and feel better.
Getting quality, deep sleep can help your brain process memories and information as well as help it flush out toxins. Getting the proper amount of rest can also help regulate your metabolism, which can reduce cravings, according to Today.
In the long run, sleep could be even more important as research suggests inadequate sleep in your 50s and 60s could increase your risk of dementia, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Sleep expert Matthew Walker, author of the book "Why We Sleep," previously told Insider, you really can't get by on six or seven hours of sleep — the vast majority of people need an average of eight hours a night. To improve your sleep, experts recommend avoiding alcohol, maintaining regular exercise, and avoiding screens immediately before bed, according to CNBC.
Resolve to get moving.
Exercise resolutions are common and for good reason. Along with fixing your sleep, little else will have as transformative an effect on your life as getting moving. The trick is figuring out the targeted exercise routine that's going to work for you — resolving that you'll just "go to the gym more" probably won't cut it.
Regular, moderate exercise can improve your physical health by preventing cardiovascular disease, according to The New York Times. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Exercise can also improve your mental health, lowering the likelihood of developing depression and anxiety, The New York Times reported.
But the best exercise resolution is one you're likely to keep.
Don't make a workout resolution you know you won't keep. If you're a late sleeper or simply don't have time in the mornings, resolve to develop an evening routine. Likewise, if you know you're not a gym person, don't waste your money by signing up for a membership. According to Bloomberg, the January spike in gym attendance drops after just a few weeks, so don't fall for it if you're not committed.
Experts recommend finding an activity that you're likely to do regularly. That could be rock climbing, swimming, running, yoga, or just daily walks with a friend or a pet. You can also find ways to work exercise into your normal errands, according to KHOU-TV.
If you're going to try a diet in the new year, pick a way to eat healthy that's backed by science.
Just like exercise, if you want to develop better eating habits, try to pick foods that you actually like and be open to trying something new.
Focus on the quality of the foods you're eating, like healthy vegetables, proteins, and whole grains, and cut down on processed foods and sugars where possible, Harvard Health Publishing recommends. One easy resolution to eat healthier could involve cooking one meal per week using no pre-prepared ingredients.
That said, be conscious that your weight is not the sole marker of your health, and keep an eye out for behaviors that could lead to an eating disorder. Behaviors like meticulously counting calories aren't a healthy or dependable way to manage your diet, according to Harvard.
Cut down on alcoholic beverages.
While many may ring in the New Year with glasses of champagne, millions will also resolve to participate in Dry January. At the beginning of 2022, a third of American adults in one survey said they abstained for the full month of January, according to CNN.
Cutting down on your drinks can relieve your liver and lower your risk of heart disease, according to Healthline. It can also support weight loss and reduce the risk of some cancers, the outlet reported.
But experts recommend moderation, as a sudden stop for those that drink regularly could cause sleep and anxiety issues, Insider previously reported. Some studies have also found the occasional drink beneficial for the heart.
If you want to be more productive, resolve to take more breaks and work less.
Learn to listen to yourself when you need breaks, and take them more often. This advice can apply on the day-to-day and over the long term.
While we may think we can power through an eight or ten-hour day, the brain can only engage in heavy mental work for four or five hours a day, according to The Washington Post. One expert told the Post that you should take a 20- to 30-minute break for every two hours of focused work.
Remember to take breaks on a larger scale, too. Commit to yourself that you will listen to your body if you show signs of burnout in 2023, and make sure you use all your vacation days.
You could also resolve to start reading regularly.
Studies have found that reading can make it easier to empathize with others, reduce stress and promote memory retention, according to The New York Times.
Luminaries of the tech and finance worlds like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffett agree about the many benefits of books. They often attribute much of their success to regular reading habits.
Plus, reading is simply a fun, easy way to pass the time and take a break from the internet-connected world. The Times recommends leaning into the style of reading that you like (like novels, short stories, memoirs, or poetry) and focusing on reading for your pleasure.
Pick a goal — one book each month or even one per week, depending on how much you already read. Join a book club if the prospect of chatting with friends (likely over snacks and drinks) will encourage you to turn the pages.
Spend your free time doing exactly what you like.
Sometimes, it feels like life is moving a mile a minute, leaving little time for relaxation or just doing what you love. Make 2023 the year you follow your happiness and do more of what you genuinely enjoy.
Harvard professor and author Arthur Brooks told Harvard Magazine that happiness is a function of enjoyment, satisfaction, and purpose. Brooks recommended people focus on strengthening their "four pillars" of family, faith, friends, and work – instead of chasing money, power, pleasure, and admiration or approval from others.
Decide 2023 will be the year you spend your time and money on experiences that you'll glean happiness from.
Read the original article on Business Insider