Is your New Year’s resolution to go for a run first thing every morning? On January 2, did you hit the snooze button and go back to sleep? Or, did you resolve to stop scrolling mindlessly through social media only to lose your willpower after breakfast?
New Year’s resolutions are definitely a way to make changes, eat healthier, exercise more, drink less, etc. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you have practiced a behavior, you can change it. New studies explore factors that determine whether individuals can stick to their goals.
People with high self-control do not suffer white-knuckle struggles to eat better or exercise more. Instead, they form habits. They automate their behaviors and reach their goals without even thinking about them. The strategy for successful resolutions isn’t about willpower, but about creating habits.
The amount of time it takes for something to become a habit varies from a week to a year. The standard answer is 21 days according to a somewhat arbitrary assessment by Dr. Maxwell Maltz in the 1960s. However, a study led by a team at the University College in London in 2009 determined that an average of 66 days is necessary to develop a new habit for it to become automatic.
Certain cases of joint pain will always require an orthopedic surgeon, PA or physical therapist. Some DOC suggested New Year’s resolutions that can become regular habits, improve your joint health and prevent joint pain could include:
- I am going to eat a healthy diet and start with a high-fiber, protein, and fresh fruit breakfast because my diet has a positive impact on my chronic joint pain.
- I will snack only on high-fiber, inflammation-fighting foods, nuts, berries, and healthy fats like avocados to prevent my joints from swelling.
- I will limit alcohol intake because it adds empty calories to my diet, interferes with my sleep and increases my joint pain.
- I will put down my phone or computer since repetitive activities like texting cause wear and tear on my small joints, fingers and thumbs, and larger joints, wrists, elbows and shoulders.
- I will incorporate good posture into my daily work life, whether sitting at a computer, standing, bending, lifting, or another activity unique to my job.
- I will stretch every morning to wake up my joints.
- I will find the exercise I love and do it. I’ll try biking, swimming, hiking, skipping, hooping, dancing, rowing, barre, spinning, yoga, or aerobics.
- I will take a 20-minute morning walk outdoors to increase my vitamin D intake to strengthen my bones and muscles.
- I will wear compression sleeves, socks and leggings when flying or while active to promote blood circulation, reduce inflammation and prevent injuries.
- I will reduce stress in my day-to-day life because stress exacerbates my joint pain symptoms. I will write down my stressors and strategize about how to change them.
- I will get a good night’s sleep with de-stressing techniques, medication, yoga or whatever calms my mind before sleep because tension causes pain in my neck, shoulders and back.
- I won’t ignore my joint pain and hope it goes away. If it is constant and interferes with my everyday life, I will see my DOC orthopedic surgeon or PA.
Whether forming a habit takes 21 days, 66 days or more, it is worth the effort to persevere! Healthy resolutions can become healthy habits that last a lifetime. DOC wishes you good health in 2019.