It's the last day of 2017, and you're contemplating resolutions for the new year.
You know you want this year to be better, but before you join millions of other people in naming weight loss — one of the most popular resolutions to make as well as one of the least-kept resolutions — as your No. 1 goal, consider shifting your focus to being more healthy physically, mentally and spiritually.
"Everyone's goals are centered on weight loss, and people can lose weight and still be unhealthy," said Sarah Dodson, a family nurse practitioner with Mercy Joplin's Range Line clinic. "I would rather people focus their resolutions on being more healthy than losing weight."
Arlene Sadowski, a psychologist with the Ozark Center, the behavioral health branch of Freeman Health System, recommended breaking goals down into "baby steps" that you could do by next month, or even next week.
"It's very hard to change behavior, but once we get an organized idea, just keep at it," she said. "You'll expect to backtrack a little bit, but get back on the plan you want."
To be more happy and healthy in the new year, experts recommend that you resolve to:
• Manage stress levels.
Dodson said paying attention to your stressors can help mitigate other health issues that might crop up.
"When you're more stressed, your blood pressure can go up, you can eat more, you can develop anxiety or depression," she said. "There are a lot of health care issues that can amount from more stress."
There are a number of techniques that you can use to do this, including taking a bubble bath, practicing yoga, getting a massage or taking some time for prayer or meditation, Dodson said, recommending that everybody find one that works for them.
• Stop smoking.
Quitting will boost your health in innumerable ways, including giving you sharper hearing, better vision, clearer skin, decreased risk of heart disease, better lung performance, lower cancer risks, stronger muscles and bones and lowered cholesterol, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The first step, Dodson said, is deciding that you truly want to quit tobacco. Then, set a "quit date." You can call 1-800-784-8669 for resources and cessation strategies, she said.
"It's an easy thing to say, and it's a hard thing to do," she added.
• Eat healthier.
This doesn't mean you have to move straight to dropping all fast food in favor of fruits and vegetables, Dodson said. Instead, start small — replace one serving of bread with one serving of vegetables, for example, and continue from there.
"Any modification you make to eating healthier is better than no modification at all," she said.
• Maintain your health.
This means scheduling regular checkups, as often as your doctor recommends them; staying current on recommended vaccinations; and getting the recommended screenings, such as mammograms, appropriate your age group, Dodson said.
Again, you can start small — just commit to washing your hands with soap and water more often, she said.
"I really just want people to focus on feeling better all the way around," she said. "Everything is tied in together; there's not one part of our health that stands alone."
• Do some journaling.
Take time to write down your short- and long-term goals for the year, Sadowski said.
Also take note of progress you make toward your goals, what was easy or difficult, and what motivated you, she said.
• Use your imagination.
Can you imagine what you want your life to look like in the next three months, the next six months, the next year? Maybe you want to be financially stable, Sadowski said, or perhaps you want meaningful relationships with other people.
Visualizing what you want can be a good first step in goal-setting, Sadowski said.
"It's good to do some quiet thinking about how would I feel in a year if I accomplish this?" she said. "If you take a little time to think about that ... that will kind of reinforce it in your imagination and make it more real. Then you can work on bringing it into your life."
• Be kind to yourself.
If you struggle to keep your resolutions or hit the targets you've set for yourself, don't beat yourself up over it, Sadowski said. Just pledge to try again tomorrow.
"Gradual change is often helpful," she said. "As long as you basically go forward, that always feels good."
Top 10 New Year's resolutions
Stay fit and healthy: 37 percent.
Lose weight: 32 percent.
Enjoy life to the fullest: 28 percent.
Spend less, save more: 25 percent.
Spend more time with family and friends: 19 percent.
Get organized: 18 percent.
Will not make any resolutions: 16 percent.
Learn something new/new hobby: 14 percent.
Travel more: 14 percent.
Read more: 12 percent.
Source: Nielsen survey, 2015