As 2021 draws to a close, you may be thinking of what the new year will bring. Writing New Year’s resolutions can help you think about your ambitions, decide what you want to accomplish, and consider how you want to spend your time. Research shows that setting goals (resolutions) can help older adults not only find their purpose but even extend their lives.
As you map out your 2022 New Year’s resolutions, focus on goals that support your health, improve your emotional wellbeing, and help you feel your best. While no two people will have the same resolutions, this article shares some ideas for inspiration as you think about where you want to focus your energy in 2022.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, and nobody knows that better than someone who’s been around for a few decades. While it’s okay to feel down from time to time, try to keep a positive attitude and focus on what is good in your life. Research shows that a positive mindset offers a number of health benefits, such as a lower risk of memory loss, quicker recovery from illness, a lower risk of developing chronic disease and can extend your lifespan.
This doesn’t mean you need to wear rose-colored glasses every day or ignore the difficult parts of life. It means worrying less about the things you can’t change, and focusing on the good in your life. If you find it difficult to do this, try thinking of 3 things each day that you are grateful for, practice mindful breathing, and treat yourself as you would someone you love.
Commit to Daily Movement
Staying physically active can help you stay healthy as you age. It may also be the key to living a long life. Exercise offers a number of physical and mental health benefits, helping improve muscle and bone strength, heart health, and preventing chronic disease (e.g., diabetes).
Aim to incorporate 10-30 minutes of exercise into each day. You don’t need to hit the gym to stay physically active. Walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga are excellent activities that can improve your health, happiness, and overall wellbeing.
Eat a Nutrient-Dense Diet
You may notice your appetite has decreased as you get older. However, your body still needs essential vitamins and minerals to help you stay healthy. Making good food choices can help ensure you get the nutrients you need. Strive to eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Use healthier fats (e.g., olive oil) and natural spices when cooking to reduce your fat and salt intake.
Spend Time With Loved Ones
Whether you spend time with your family, grandchildren, or friends, being socially active offers tremendous health benefits for seniors. If your family lives far away or it’s challenging to get together with busy friends, consider joining a group that is focused on your hobbies (e.g., knitting, swimming, reading) to make new connections with like-minded individuals. Research shows that socially active older adults have a lower risk of developing disease and depression, better cognition, and better health.
Stimulate Your Mind
Keeping your brain active can help you stay mentally sharp, well into your golden years. Whether you commit to doing crossword puzzles, playing board games with friends/family, reading new books or writing, challenging your brain can help reduce the risk for developing age-related diseases, such as dementia. If you’d rather not go it alone, joining a group can help you stay motivated! If you need a little motivation to stay motivated in getting your daily mental stimulation, there are book clubs, Scrabble groups, and boardgame groups available in many towns and cities throughout the United States.
Explore Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteering is a wonderful way to engage with your community, provide assistance to those in need, and spend your free time. Giving your time and energy in service to others is an excellent way to find a sense of purpose and fulfilment. It also serves as a way to ensure you get out of the house each day and interact with others. Check for volunteer opportunities in your community. Many hospitals, shelters, and churches need volunteers to help run their organizations. Not only will you get to interact with other like-minded individuals, but it’s a great way to boost your self-confidence and feel good about helping others in the process.
Try a New Hobby
It’s never too late to take up a new hobby and learn something new. If you never had time to take up the hobby that’s been in the back of your mind in your younger years, now is the time to do it. Trying out new hobbies and learning new skills can help keep your brain sharp, improve memory and learning, and reduce the risk of dementia and other age-related diseases. The options are unlimited — you can sign up for a dance class, learn to play a new instrument, take a cooking class, or join a gardening club in your area, for example.
The challenging part about making resolutions isn’t necessarily sitting down to write them out, but sticking with them. There may be times when life throws you a curveball and you may struggle to stick to your goals. Be patient with yourself, and focus on the benefits of sticking with the goals you’ve set before throwing in the towel and giving up. At the end of the year, you’ll feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment for staying motivated, sticking with your goals, and living life on your terms.