100 Painless Resolutions for a Healthier, Happier, Fitter New Year

Most people who make New Year’s resolutions tend to emphasize their health – whether physical or mental. Some accomplish this through improved diet and exercise habits, others aim to go back to school or finding cheaper, more self-directed routes towards education and self-improvement. In order to cut back on stress and nurture healthy, positive habits, there are easily thousands of different, highly specific, and small goals to consider. Many of these may seem small, but making them a regular part of life eventually builds up to something greater.

    1. Take a regularly-scheduled walk.

    Walking keeps a body healthy without putting as much stress on joints and the heart as running.rapid-transit

    2. Travel

    Even the trendy “staycations” that cropped up as a result of the economic meltdown offer palate-cleansing relaxation and perspective.

    3. Use public transportation whenever possible.

    Taking the bus, train, or subway saves the environment, wear and tear on the family car, and renders commuting time much more productive, as riders can read, craft (knitting and crocheting are particularly portable hobbies, or use their laptop rather than driving.

    4. Eat well.

    Most people should know by now that a healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients does not have to taste of repugnant mush.

    5. Cook more.

    Preparing meals at home stands as a far cheaper alternative to dining at restaurants, whose foods are often laden with preservatives and high levels of sodium as well. Some also find the art of cooking as a cathartic exercise.

    6. Take a class.

    Community colleges, online schools, a few universities, and companies such as Leisure Learning Unlimited in Houston offer fun, enriching classes for adults and their hectic schedules in a staggering variety of subjects.

    7. Learn a new skill.

    Should classes prove an ill fit for whatever reason, it is still possible to learn a new skill using books, the internet, and other resources. Few things inspire confidence and broaden horizons like gaining additional (perhaps marketable abilities.

    8. Volunteer

    Fantastic services like the entirely free VolunteerMatch and Serve.gov allow users to look for opportunities all over the United States. Giving back to the community feels good and helps others feed off the positivity as well.

    9. Pick up litter.

    Not only does it beautify the environment and create cleaner, healthier living spaces, picking up litter also provides relatively low-impact exercise as well. Just be sure to wear gloves.

    10. Take advantage of free events.

    Most major cities or smaller towns with a university or community college almost always play host to several free events every month. Seek out a few of interest and meet like-minded potential friends. Maybe even learn something new.

    dumbbells11. Work out at home.

    For those hoping for something a little more intense than walking, save the money on a pricy gym membership and head to YouTube for hundreds of free workout videos covering a wide spectrum of styles.

    12. Write up a time budget.

    Organize schedules using the same methods one would use for setting finances in order. Doing so will maximize productivity and efficiency – hopefully allowing for more time with hobbies, lessons, family, and friends.

    13. Write up a monetary budget.

    It follows the same principles as the aforementioned time budget. Keeping track of finances in the short run helps save on monetary migraines in the future.

    volunteering14. Make a donation.

    Nonprofits are always looking for clothes, books, household items, and – of course – money. Individuals without the time to spend on volunteering can still help their communities and clear the clutter by donating their old or unused items. Ask around to see who accepts what. It is even possible to donate to charity merely by browsing the internet thanks to organizations like GoodSearch.

    fenderhwy1strat15. Discover new music.

    Free services such as Pandora and Last.fm help users find music suited to their tastes based on their stated preferences. Learning about and listening to new songs can assist in alleviating moods and broadening horizons.

    16. Take some time to relax.

    No time budget is complete without at least a few minutes set aside for relaxation and decompressing after a harried day. A nice rest benefits every aspect of life.

    17. Get in touch spiritually.

    Not everyone needs a religious life to be personally fulfilled, of course. But many still use New Year’s as a springboard to setting their religious affairs in order, finding comfort and happiness in regularly patronizing churches, synagogues, mosques, and/or temples.

    18. Spend time with family and/or friends.

    Many people also pursue joy and solace in the company of loved ones as a means of forging for themselves a more permanent happiness.

    bookspine19. Pick up a book.

    Libraries and bookstores literally carry something for every taste. Even people who claim they despise reading are still able to find at least one or two books that cater to their desires.

    20. Keep up with medical appointments.

    While occasionally quite the opposite of a “painless resolution,” the stress heaped on yearly or biannually doctor’s visits is nothing compared to the hazards of neglecting one’s own health. With early detection as one of the best tools against many terminal diseases, everyone owes it to themselves and their loved ones to keep up with their medical appointments. Even those without health insurance have a few opportunities to receive healthcare through some charitable organizations.

    21. Write

    It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. It doesn’t have to be public. It doesn’t even have to be in complete sentences. But keeping a small journal or blog helps people organize their thoughts and keep track of behavior patterns that may need changing.

    22. Clean

    Tidy up and organize a work or living space, recycling or throwing away garbage and donating nicer items to charity. The act of cleaning helps instill a sense of pride upon completion and reduces the risk of injury and – in extreme cases involving food and pet leavings – sickness.

    23. Recycle

    Even one small, seemingly mundane act such as depositing an empty can or bit of cardboard into the appropriate receptacle carries with it a major reverberation throughout the world.

    24. Grow herbs.

    Apartment dwellers and homeowners alike can very easily grow their own basil, parsley, sage, rosemary, and/or thyme in windowsills and gardens. Even those who do not enjoy their flavor or health benefits may delight in giving the fresh results of their (actually quite minimal) labor to friends and family who love to cook. They also add a little natural pop to an urban lifestyle.

    25. Meditate

    Though the term does carry religious connotations, there are still numerous available strategies for meditation that certainly embrace the secular. A spiritual life is not a necessity to sit and actively analyze one’s life and place in the universe.

    26. Use small weights.

    Turn idle activity such as watching a film or television show into something healthier by engaging with small weights. This help keeps the blood flowing and the heart pumping without putting too much stress on the body.

    27. Invest in a pedometer.

    Individuals concerned with losing weight for health reasons ought to look into buying a pedometer to track their walking and running progress. Doing so keeps a tangible record of habits and helps users look at what goes right and what needs improving.

    28. Try out ankle weights.

    These convenient little weights strap around the ankle and provide a little extra resistance to a walk or run. They can also be worn during normal treks around the house or while cleaning to add even the slightest bit of a workout to everyday life.

    29. Drink more water.

    It’s a simple action that’s necessary for a multitude of life processes. Make it a goal to replace at least one soda a day or week with the equivalent volume of water instead, then move up from there.

    30. Make new friends…

    …but not at the expense of valued old ones, of course. Bonding with like-minded individuals helps nurture positivity and improved mental health.

    31. Explore the city.

    Fire up a preferred internet browser and check out Yelp, Citysearch, and Examiner to discover unexpected and potentially rewarding corners of most cities and towns. “Alternative” publications such as blogs and those owned by Village Voice Media and The A.V. Club post upcoming and interesting events for several different major metropolitan areas as well.

    32. Set up a weekly menu.

    Plan meals in advance, keeping both personal schedules and daily nutrient intake into consideration. Having a tangible method of looking at meals helps keep diets on track and healthy foods in stomachs.

    community_garden33. Look into community gardening.

    Community gardens build neighborhoods, provide fresh – often organic – food for local families or charities, promote self-reliance and sustainability, and offer a bit of exercise. Check for local projects (or learn how to start one in areas without one with the )American Community Garden Association.

    34. Patronize the arts.

    Art, like literature, is highly subjective. But it is also characterized by diversity, and most people can find something they enjoy – whether it be the opera or a gallery opening of abstract expressionism. Surrounding oneself with beauty helps lighten moods and inspire intellectual and creative thought.

    35. Visit a park.

    Relax or get a little exercise in while soaking up some essential Vitamin D. Taking time out on a nice day to sit and simply be can do wonders for the mind.

    36. Pay off debts.

    Obviously, it may not be feasible to eliminate all debts throughout the year. But when budgeting, be sure to set money aside to start chipping away at loans. Paying them off whenever possible does nothing but eliminate stress over time.

    37. Make and give gifts.

    It does not have to be a birthday or holiday for a friend or loved one to be rewarded with a handmade gift, and one does not have to be an artist to create something beautiful that elicits pride. Showing appreciation with a labor of love benefits both giver and receiver.

    38. Cut the caffeine.

    Coffee, sodas, energy drinks, and other sources of caffeine charge up the jitters, and scaling back can actually contribute to an overall sense of calm.

    39. Adopt a pet.

    The “painless” aspect of this resolution varies depending on the attitude, health, and type of pet adopted, but animal companions in general have been linked to lower blood pressure and more stable mental health.

    40. Cut the fast food.

    Doing so will eliminate excessive fats, preservatives, cholesterol, and carbohydrates that depress the system and contribute to ill health.

    41. Look into composting.

    Individuals with a home or space in a community garden should explore composting their organic waste. Doing so saves money on fertilizers, minimizes garbage output, and provides exercise when enough compost is available for spreading.

    42. Take vitamins.

    General, over-the-counter vitamin supplements usually enhance a regular, healthy diet and help fill in any possible holes. Regular doctor visits will shed more light on which vitamins and minerals may be deficient in one’s body.

    43. Try new foods.

    Take a chance to something new, possibly fresh and healthy as well. It may prove worthwhile to the body and – should it prove tasty – the emotions as well.

    44. Join an intramural or adult league team.

    For those with the time and the funds, an intramural or casual adult league team provides a nice workout and a sense of community. Try to avoid obsessing over winning to maximize mental and emotional well-being.

    45. Attend a sporting event.

    While the parking lots may prove more “painful” than anything, patronizing a favorite sport or team can help grant a positive boost to one’s mood and overall sense of well-being.

    46. Sleep well.

    A good night’s rest is essential for the body and the mind alike. Insomniacs need to work with a medical professional to find the best possible cure for their condition, lest it interfere with other areas of their health later on down the line.

    47. Cut back on the sugar.

    Like large amounts of caffeine, too much sugar also contributes to a general sense of restlessness as well as facilitating unnecessary and unhealthy weight gain. Those who need to pack on pounds under the recommendation of their physician have far more beneficial options available.

    48. Wear more comfortable shoes.

    Inserts and better-fitting shoes help soothe (or eliminate) back pain, which in turn tones down the grumpiness.

    49. Practice breathing exercises.

    Numerous ideas for breathing exercises are available online or through the advice of a healthcare professional. These foster relaxation and alleviate anxiety in stressful situations.

    50. Take baths.

    Showers may save time, but a nice, long soak in Epsom salt, bubble bath, or other similarly relaxing additives provides more of a mental break. Try bathing at least once a week.

    51. Get a haircut at least once a month.

    Looking one’s best is one possible route towards feeling more secure, happy, and stable. Find a regular, reasonably-priced stylist in the area to add a sense of comfort, reliability, and familiarity.

    52. Splurge on a spa.

    While most people cannot afford a spa treatment on a regular basis, indulging on occasion can be considered an investment in one’s physical and mental health.

    53. Take stretch breaks.

    Pop up from the desk and stretch out the back, hands, and legs every hour. Even if it looks a bit silly, it helps increase blood flow in a stationary body and keeps the muscles engaged and active.

    54. Eat several small meals a day.

    Practicing discipline and controlling portions manages weight and nutritional intake. Some experts believe that 6 little meals a day resonate better than 3 larger ones.

    55. Cut back on fried foods.

    While comforting, fried foods – especially those of the deep fat variety – also involve far too many fats and carbohydrates as well as cholesterol to be considered a necessary part of an everyday diet.

    56. Use olive oil.

    Replace butter, lard, or other oils commonly called for in recipes with the equivalent volume of olive oil. This highly advised addition to a healthy diet contains monounsaturated fats that help to break up cholesterol and stave off heart disease. Extra-virgin olive oil contains the most nutrients.

    57. Look up and contact an old friend.

    With the rise of social networking websites, it is now easier than ever to connect with old friends, whose presence and influence may help nurture more positive mental health.

    58. Apologize

    Perhaps not so painless in the short run, but making amends with wronged individuals cuts back on negative feelings of guilt, anger, self-loathing, stress, and other depressants. Forgiving individuals may even prove stronger friends, thus leading to connections that nurture positivity.

    59. Give out more hugs.

    Some people inclined towards affection may want to think about distributing more hugs to facilitate inter- and intrapersonal harmony. The recipient may also need it as one small beam of light during a difficult time.

    60. Organize a charitable event.

    In spite of what the society pages and tabloids may say, charity events do not always have to come packaged as elitist black-tie affairs. Put one together at the grassroots level to help boost the neighborhood and self-image alike.

    61. Go bargain hunting.

    Enjoy the rush that comes with saving money on everyday purchases. Print coupons from the internet and clip them out of the newspaper. GoodShop saves money and donates proceeds to one of thousands of favored charities. Take advantage of free merchant memberships with consumer benefits. Hit up sales whenever possible. Search Overstock.com and other discount sites for the best possible deals. A healthy bank account is a happy bank account.

    tea62. Drink more tea.

    Although it contains a dose of caffeine, tea also gifts the body with numerous antioxidants to help prevent diseases. Drinking tea in the morning provides a smaller but healthier buzz than coffee in addition to the aforementioned immunity fortification.

    63. Drink a glass of red wine a day.

    1 glass of red wine every day thins the blood just enough to lower the risk of heart disease and clotting, but not to the point of causing a serious medical issue. It also fights LDL (low density lipoprotein, or “bad cholesterol”) and encourages the productivity of HDL (high density lipoprotein, or “good cholesterol”).

    64. Splurge on a (legitimate!) massage.

    Like spas, massages make for a wonderful indulgence every once in a while. Though usually costly, massages help loosen up tension around the sensitive spinal area, helping to relieve pain and boost good posture – thus making the occasional expense well worth it.

    65. Drive at night on an empty road.

    Obviously, those living in dangerous areas may want to reconsider this method of relaxation and meditation. But individuals unfazed or (mostly) unencumbered by the possibility of violence ought to consider this as one possible route towards positive self-exploration.

    66. Invest in a blender and make smoothies.

    These healthy beverages offer a tasty, filling meal replacement that takes care of a few recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.

    67. Cut back on the alcohol.

    Even though a glass of wine a day is healthy, significant alcohol intake may actually elicit a sense of calm upon consumption; afterwards, though, it results in an unhealthy physical – perhaps mental and emotional – depression that does nothing to facilitate positivity.

    68. Host a small dinner party.

    Surrounding oneself with a few trusted, reliable friends and a table brimming with healthy and delicious foods only enhances the mood of everyone involved.

    69. Pay closer attention to nutrition labels.

    The easiest route towards understanding and maintaining a proper diet involves a well-informed analysis of what is going into the body. Both the FDA and USDA websites provide numerous resources on getting the most out of nutrition labels.

    70. Eat more salmon and tuna.

    Both fish contain omega-3 fatty acids essential to prevent heart disease. Consumers ought to stick with the wild-caught as opposed to farm-raised varieties, as the former contains more of the beneficial substances and have come from (comparatively) less chemically compromised environments.

    71. Seek out products with xylitol.

    Gums and candies sweetened with xylitol actually promote healthy teeth, as the sugar substitute actively feeds off of the bacteria that cause cavities.

    72. Brush teeth twice a day.

    Doing so removes coffee and tea stains, freshens breath, removes plaque and tartar, and kills off harmful bacteria. Be sure to stick with toothpastes untainted by the presence of damaging sugars. Using mouthwash regularly does not replace brushing, but it supplements the act by picking up where it left off.

    73. Floss

    Brushing’s natural companion, flossing removes bits of food from the teeth that cannot be reached with bulkier tools. Try and incorporate this action into a regular tooth care regimen.

    74. Exfoliate

    Slough off dead skin cells and acne-causing bacteria using a preferred exfoliating treatment at least twice a week. Rejuvenating masques once a week underscore the effects of exfoliating and render the skin even healthier.

    75. Avoid exercising in makeup.

    Working out even in the barest of foundations actively damages the skin. Oil, sweat, and other irritants build up beneath it and increases the risk of acne. Be sure to remove all makeup before exercising, then clean up and reapply afterwards.

    76. Soak feet.

    A brief but soothing foot soak in Epsom salts can mentally ease the stresses of everyday life and help promote loosened, more relaxed muscles.

    77. Take the stairs.

    Walk up the stairs whenever possible to add some quick, relatively low-impact exercise into daily life. This advice obviously does not apply to individuals working or visiting the Willis (Sears) Tower.

    78. Do not skip breakfast.

    Numerous experts frequently assert that eating a healthy breakfast provides people with the energy and brainpower necessary to navigate the twists and turns of work and family on a daily basis.

    bloodpressure79. Test blood pressure regularly.

    Take advantage of the usually complimentary blood pressure kiosks available at many pharmacies across the country, and be diligent in writing down or receiving tangible results. While not as attuned as those at a medical facility, they still provide a clear idea as to whether or not one’s blood pressure patterns will prove a health risk later.

    80. Try Emergency-C treatments.

    Emergen-C and other vitamin boosts do not actively cure or prevent diseases in and of themselves. But they do provide the body with 1,000 milligrams of Vitamin C as well as numerous B vitamins. The company provides free samples of their products, which are available over the counter at most pharmacies, and suggests a treatment twice a day mixed with 6-8 ounces of water.

    81. Remember regular breast self-examinations.

    Women and men alike can both fall victim to breast cancer, though it is far rarer in the latter. Learn how to detect this devastating illness before it can destroy a life by gaining an education on regular self-examinations. Health care professionals can provide charts and model breasts to detail exactly how to find lumps.

    82. Avoid buffets.

    Even buffets boasting healthier foods still encourage overeating. How much food goes into the body can be just as important as what exactly these foods are.

    83. Drink more milk.

    Rich in calcium, Vitamin D, and other essentials, those capable of digesting milk must strive to drink at least one glass a day.

    84. Keep a dream journal.

    One does not have to adhere to Jungian philosophy to know and understand that dreams can occasionally reflect the challenges of everyday life. A dream journal helps individuals check if any specific anxieties regularly crop up while asleep in order to solve them when awake.

    85. Visit the library.

    Even patrons not seeking to check out books or movies can enjoy the peace and quiet to read, browse the internet, study, or do homework or professional assignments far from the distractions of home.

    basketball86. Host a game night.

    Gather some friends around for an evening of fun and small snacks to boost morale and entertain without having to spend a fortune.

    87. Practice good posture.

    Individuals with painful back, shoulder, and neck issues may face difficulty with this one, of course, and should never – under any circumstances – be chided or wrongly judged for slouching. But those able to execute good posture without experiencing sharp, stabbing pain will enjoy better circulation and oxygen flow.

    88. Practice tension-taming exercises.

    Healthcare professionals specializing in both physical and mental health can provide valuable advice on the best workouts to help decompress the mind and keep the body in working order.

    89. Read or listen to something funny daily.

    Find a book, movie, blog, song, friend, comedian, or other source of personal hilarity to ease stress and bring at least a pinpoint of joy into the day.

    90. Play video games.

    So long as one does not fret over or become too absorbed in the competitive aspect, video games actually increase eye-hand coordination and promote relaxation. Solo puzzle-style activities, like the ones available for free at PopCap Games, may even help stimulate the mind.

    91. Avoid fad diets.

    Just because the latest flash-in-the-pan celebrity sticks with a certain diet does not mean it actually works or benefits the body in any way. Simply eat right and consult with a medical professional regarding personal dietary restrictions. No amount of gargling lemon juice and cayenne will ever replace that.

    92. Smile at strangers.

    Brighten two people’s days by flashing a smile at people passing on the street, standing in line at the store, or sitting on the bus.

    lotion93. Replace perfume with scented lotion.

    Perfume gets expensive after a while, and does not provide the same nurturing skincare properties as most lotions. Save the contents of that fancy glass bottle for special occasions.

    94. Invest in a water filter.

    Attach a water filter to a tap, or buy a pitcher with one built in. Doing so removes more impurities from drinking water, which minimizes the intake of potentially dangerous or irritating bacteria and other chemicals. It is one of the simplest investments one can make in personal health

    95. Review good manners guides.

    Politeness and common courtesy never go out of style, and Emily Post’s undeniable classic Etiquette is now available in the public domain to learn more about becoming a more pleasant member of society. Those needing advice from a more contemporary perspective would do well to read or listen to the works of Modern Manners Guy Trent Armstrong.

    96. Study the basics.

    Forging a proper foundation in finances, health, economics, business, politics, philosophy (secular and/or religious), and other subjects helps promote a better understanding of the elements that drive everyday life. One does not have to become an expert, of course, but a rudimentary understanding may alleviate stress later on – most especially when it comes to money and health.

    garlic97. Eat more garlic.

    Find a way to incorporate 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (if not more) into a daily diet as a means of staving off heart disease and improve the immune system.

    98. Avoid nitrates and nitrites.

    Multiple studies have linked nitrates and nitrites to a heightened risk of cancer, so make a concerted effort to pay attention to what products do and do not contain them before purchasing.

    99. Set realistic goals.

    Few things dredge up anxiety, stress, and other undesirable emotions more than failure to achieve a somewhat unrealistic goal. Individuals hoping to “aim for the stars” would eliminate extreme negativity if they aimed for the lower atmosphere first before moving up from there in carefully measured steps.

    100. Communicate better.

    Poor communication skills lead to damaged relationships, professional difficulties, tarnished reputations, and other social ills. Learn how to politely and clearly express ideas and opinions to lessen the chances of future issues.

New Year’s resolutions do not have to be grandiose or intricately detailed to have a major positive impact on someone’s life. Even something as seemingly mundane as resolving to floss twice a day carries with it heavy positive benefits. Keep life as stress-free as possible by staying realistic this year and keeping things simple and streamlined with these guidelines.