Wellness Resolutions: Easy does it!

It's a challenge to make a new person. We can use help.

Saranac Lake was once a worldwide health destination. At the height of the tuberculosis epidemic this wilderness village drew famed doctors, skilled researchers, and celebrity patients. While we are all happy the tuberculosis plague has been conquered, there are still plenty of skilled people who love to help anyone with other health quests.

At this time of year, when people’s thoughts turn to self-improvement, we’d like to suggest a better path than the ones we’ve trod before... and wandered away from. What are the most popular resolutions? Health ones! What are the most likely resolutions to be dropped as time goes on? Health ones!

We need to rethink this.

start small

The number one reason resolutions fail is simply this: people don’t want to do them. That’s why, in a flurry of wishful renewal, people have the ill-fated tendency to make up for all the resolutions they didn't manage to keep last time. We decide to be harder on ourselves, create a closely-packed schedule, and fully intend to remake ourselves; except we don't. Again.

Adding such stress to our health resolutions is not going to work.

Little Red, first cure cottage at the Trudeau Sanitarium

Bigger is not always better. That is what Dr. Trudeau discovered when he found his patients improved more in small, quiet spaces instead of occupying large hospital wards. This same principle works for us when it comes to making changes.

It's dramatic to make sweeping changes and come up with a plan to get fast results. But when we find the plan overwhelming, it gets dropped entirely, and now we have a sense of failure along with our collapsed schedule.

Make a small plan, instead.

Stonehenge can be a giant monolith, or part of an arctic golf game

One strategy is to plan an activity while we are on a getaway, whether it's a weekend or a full vacation. We avoid the time pressures that lead us to drop the new thing. We have the right attitude to explore it fully. We have the space to figure out how we'll incorporate this new thing into our regular life.

It makes sense to shrink the endeavor into a size we can handle. Doing it as a fun thing, in a time and place devoted to fun things, lets us explore it at an easy, comfortable, pace.

find others

Sometimes it's a great thing to "go it alone." But keeping our health resolutions might take more than us and our willpower. If this is a new thing, doesn't it make sense to consult someone who knows more than we do?

enlist some professionals when it comes to changes

We have events and venues devoted to exploring new things. From farmers market events where we can try new food combinations, to classes that teach wilderness walks and yoga, Saranac Lake has the people and places who will encourage that New You, and guide us to ways of making it happen.

Since a vacation is all about doing things we don't usually do, it can be the best solution to figuring out if we will really enjoy this new thing, or not. All without pressure from signing up for something long-term, or getting involved with a friend who we would hate to let down if it turns out we don't like the new thing.

yoga on the deck at the Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center

We might not realize how many facets there are to the new thing. We could be choosing because it's on our commute route or dismissing an option because we don't like the way it's been presented. Then, we could be led to drop it because we think that's all there is to the thing.

Trying the new thing away from home can be a true "fresh canvas" experience. Unlike the gym membership or a whole class series, we can "dip a toe" with a low cost, and low pressure, option. This lets us ask the all-important question, "Will we like this?"

As humans, we simply are not set up to continually do something we don't like. We manage to do so a lot of the time because there are upsides for our tradeoffs. But when doing a new thing for our health, we usually don't have enough immediate feedback.

It doesn't work the way a steady paycheck or a child's kiss eases those particular labors. It takes time to feel the good effects of changing our health habits, be it a switch in our diets or a stress-reducing regimen.

enjoy the doing

We often think of vacation as a time of indulgence, when we do things we wouldn't usually do. But we can also think of it as a time of pampering, when we take care of ourselves more than we usually do.

Just as we enjoy sumptuous meals on vacation, yet still eat when we get back home, we can extend ourselves for more caring indulgence while in Saranac Lake, and then seek some form of it upon our return.

Are we worried we will get spoiled? Well, if it's good for us, it's hardly spoiling, is it?

combine a scenic boat ride with a relaxing massage

That is the hidden beauty of creating a vacation with a healthy scoop of wellness activities. Taking a yoga or meditation class can be just as good for us as climbing a mountain, especially if we can continue this stress-busting activity at home. It will make the investment in our well-being last longer, and lead us to happy habits we'll keep.

Past experience is a harsh testament to the futility of trying to force change on us when it comes in the form of extra duties and drawing down our willpower. The latest science of the brain indicates that our force of will comes from brain chemicals, and it does wear out.

So we shouldn't be hard on ourselves about breaking past resolutions. We should make a new plan, concentrating on health goals that sound like fun, that seem enjoyable enough for us to pursue out of sheer joy.

It's a more scientific approach that is also more likely to work.

Exploring both our great Outdoors and Indoors will let us know what activities and health habits we would like to experience, more. By serving up a full buffet of health choices, Saranac Lake can help us figure out what we really enjoy doing.

rowing machine... or kayak on a river?

See what our Wellness Community can do for those health resolutions. Keep watch on our Learning Page to find an irresistible class or activity. Plan on visiting a few of our local restaurants for a different food experience. We have wonderful events happening year round!

An Evening Sleigh Ride in the Adirondacks
59th Saranac Lake Christmas Bird Count

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About The Author

Pamela Merritt's picture
Pamela Merritt finds a library's reading room as exciting as a hike through the forest. She met the Adirondacks in 1999 and declared it "home." She's been collecting stories ever since. She declares summer's hiking and kayaking blends beautifully into winter's snowshoeing and reading to create four great seasons of enjoyment. Her published works display her eclectic range, from How-To cat care manuals to literary short fiction.

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