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Why People Make New Year’s Resolutions

The custom of making a New Year’s resolution goes back farther than you might think! According to History.com, the ancient Babylonians are said to be the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year, which, for them, began in mid-March when the crops were planted.

There was a 12-day festival known as Akitu, when the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. According to History.com, if the Babylonians kept to their word, their gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor.

Wikipedia describes a New Year’s resolution as a tradition, most common in the Western World, but also found in the Eastern World, in which a person resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their behavior at the beginning of a calendar year.

According to Wikipedia, the Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. Medieval knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. 

Not everyone chooses to make a New Year’s resolution. Wikipedia noted that a study in 2007 by Richard Wiseman, that involved 3,000 people, showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident at the beginning. 

Will you be making a New Year’s resolution this year? It appears that choosing one that is attainable is the best way to go. Parade has a long list of New Year’s resolutions to choose from.

Read a book a month. Parade says it is good for your brain, can reduce stress, and can improve your memory and concentration.

Clear out the clutter. Research says clutter stresses you out. Make this year the year of organization and cleanliness.

Write down one thing you’re grateful for every night. Doing this can make you feel better when you are ready to go to sleep.

Drink more water. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Dehydration can cause fatigue, foggy memory, irritability, and more. If you feel thirsty, you are probably dehydrated.

Keep a journal. The University of Rochester Medical Center says that journaling can help you manage mental health. It helps you manage anxiety, reduce stress, cope with depression, and improve your mood.

Bring a plant into your home.  A 2010 study done by the University of Technology, Sydney, found significant reductions in stress among workers when plants were introduced to their workspace.

Wear sunscreen. Parade pointed out that the sun can do damage even when you’re driving in the car. Make sunscreen your new best friend.

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