It's been a hard year. Coming off another hard year. So when it comes to New Year's resolutions, we need some easy wins. To help, we've created a lighthearted list of what we're calling Low Effort Resolutions. Think: the lowest of low-hanging fruit. These are goals you can reach without hardly needing to lift a finger and improve your physical and mental health in a teeny-tiny way.
Keep track of time
The sameness imposed by the pandemic left a lot of us confused about what day of the week it was. Tuesday seemed just like Friday, and we always were disappointed when we got up the next day and discovered that it wasn't Saturday. One way to ease back into the practice of keeping track of what day it is is to start by focusing on which month it is. And if that's too abrupt a start, work on tracking which season it is. (Yes, our weather can make this tricky, but we're talking about hockey season vs. baseball season.)
The next time you prepare dinner, say this out loud: "Nothing gives me greater joy than feeding my family." It's best to do this after the Totino's Party Pizza comes out of the toaster oven steaming hot, and you're slicing it into tiny squares of love. Throw a bag of baby carrots on the table, and pat yourself on the back for providing sustenance for your loved ones.
Make your bed
Someone actually wrote a book about the good things that can flow from doing a little thing like making your bed every day. And the nice thing about this resolution is that you can check it off the moment you wake up to greet the new year. Or at least after you've gotten some coffee. By lunchtime, for sure. If you don't get around to it until just before bedtime, it still counts.
Use a bowl
This resolution doesn't restrict your ice cream consumption. You can eat a whole pint if you feel so moved. All it's saying is: Don't eat straight from the container. Resolve to use a bowl. You'll feel so civilized. And you can always refill it, if need be.
Dress better (or, at least, not so bad)
A lot of our clothing habits slipped when we started spending all our time at home. Once a week, find something to wear other than a sweatshirt, and accent the outfit with pants that don't have an elastic waistband. For overachievers, trade the slippers for shoes (extra points if they are part of a matched pair).
Switch up the brush
Our brains thrive on stimulation. Finding new ways to challenge yourself can be good for your cognitive fitness, strengthening your ability to learn and adapt. This can be as simple as doing an everyday task with your non-dominant hand. So try brushing your teeth with your opposite hand. No need to do so every day, just when you feel like it.
Make that dentist appointment
It's been two or so years since your last cleaning and maybe it's time to put another on the calendar. And if you're dreading it, the good news is it's just setting the appointment for now. We didn't say you have to schedule it and go anytime soon. Well, maybe sometime in 2022 would be great. But only if you're ready. Baby steps.
Wear a hat
It's winter, and it will be winter for the next five months. If you don't have a hat, or can't find it, or your cat has confiscated it and is currently kneading it with its adorable paws, you can substitute a hood, a scarf, a polarfleece gaiter, or even (if you are creative) a sweater. Stay warm out there. Or not.
Clean your junk drawer
You know that drawer that has accumulated miscellaneous items you've been meaning to sort in a "throw" or "keep" pile? Make this the year you tackle that daunting drawer. Then you can brag about doing some "thorough cleaning."
Start a time capsule
It's way easier than it sounds. Keep an envelope somewhere handy. (Hey, that newly cleaned junk drawer might work.) Fill it with little reminders of everyday events — a theater program, the vet bill for the time the dog ate a mouse, a wrapper from a chocolate someone gave you. At the end of the year you'll have a time capsule you can explore with the family.
Quit before you start
We fail to achieve New Year's resolutions at an alarming rate — the vast majority of us drop them within a few weeks. Research conduced by the fitness-tracking app Strava reviewed 800 million user-logged activities to determine that most people had abandoned pursuit of their new goal by Jan. 19 (the company dubbed it "Quitter's Day"). So don't bother making resolutions this year. Then you won't feel bad when you give up on them so quickly.