11 Innovative Ways to Stick to Your New Year's Resolutions

istock
istock

If you want to make 2015 the year your resolutions finally stick, you won’t have to tackle them on your own. Whatever you’re trying to make happen in the New Year, you can get a leg up with some help from technology.

1. Stop Smoking for Good

Quitting smoking is one of the best resolutions anyone can make, but it’s also one of the most difficult to stick to. Enter the Livestrong MyQuit Coach, which helps you create a personal quitting plan whether you prefer to quit cold turkey or reduce your nicotine intake gradually. You can set goals, track your cravings, and even share your progress with your friends on social media for extra support.

2. Find the Right Volunteering Opportunity

The New Year is a great opportunity to make service a priority, and the GiveGab app makes it easier than ever. GiveGab allows you to connect with fellow volunteers and helps you to find opportunities in your area. Connecting with others can keep you motivated and accountable, both of which are key for sticking with your resolutions.

3. Eat Healthier at Home

Whether your resolution is weight loss or mindful eating, Blue Apron can give you the tools to create healthy meals at home. For $60 a week, they’ll send you three recipes (and all the ingredients you need to cook them) for two-person dinners, each containing 700 calories or fewer. You’ll be able to reap the benefits of a home-cooked meal without all the guesswork.

4. Get Serious About Losing Weight

For those whose resolution is serious weight loss, there’s Rise, an app that connects users with their own personal nutritionists. For $10 a week—far less than a traditional nutritionist—you’ll work with a diet coach to create a personalized plan. You can track your meals by sending pictures and descriptions to your coach, who will give you feedback and suggest adjustments as necessary.

5. Stop Wasting Time Online

The Internet is a beautiful thing, but as anyone who’s ever gone down a Wikipedia wormhole while attempting to get work done knows, it can be a major distraction as well. If you have resolved to waste fewer hours procrastinating on the Internet, there’s the Freedom app. For $10, Freedom will block the Internet on your computer for whatever length of time you select.

6. Spend More Quality Time With Friends

Sometimes the resolutions that sound the most pleasurable can be the most difficult to implement. Spending more time with friends and family often takes a backseat to the realities of overbooked schedules. While Doodle, a service that promises to “radically simplify the process of scheduling,” can’t grant you free time, it can seriously reduce the amount of time spent wrestling with calendars. So if you want to make dinner with friends a priority, Doodle uses participants’ reported availability to determine a day and time that works best for everyone.

7. Get Your Finances in Order

The New Year is a great time to get serious about your finances, particularly for those with significant debt. The Pay Off Debt app uses the Snowball Method—paying off smaller debts in full before proceeding to larger ones—and allows you to track past payments, calculate time left in your repayment, and set reminders. For extra motivation, the app will display your progress on a bar graph so you can watch your debt shrink.

8. Put Your Brain to Work

If you’ve resolved to read more, Scribd can make finding books much easier. For $8.99 a month, Scribd gives you unlimited access to its digital library of over 500,000 titles. You’ll never be at a loss for a book that interests you.

9. Organize Your Life

Getting organized is a frequently made (and broken) resolution. Evernote can help make the prospect less daunting. As a virtual workspace platform, Evernote allows you to take notes, clip online articles, and upload photos of physical papers. You can even search for terms in handwritten notes. At the very least, Evernote will help you rid your home of some paper clutter.

10. Live a Greener Life

Going green is a great resolution for your health as well as the environment, but it can be tough to know where to start. With GoodGuide, it’s easy to put your money where your resolution is. Scan the barcode of a product and GoodGuide will tell you its environmental, social, and health impacts.

11. Get in Shape

Being more active and getting healthier go hand-in-hand, and both are resolutions that Basis Peak can help you achieve. The watch-like device tracks your steps, activity, and sleep patterns, and it can even analyze your sweat. Knowledge is power!

This year, you’ll be able to spend more time focusing on your resolutions and less time focusing your camera. Intel® RealSense™ snapshot will let you refocus photos after the fact, proving that hindsight really is 20/20. Learn more here: intel.com.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

10 Fascinating Facts About Normal People

Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal in Hulu's Normal People.
Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal in Hulu's Normal People.
Hulu

In one breathless season, Normal People, author Sally Rooney's novel-to-Hulu hit series, sparked a streaming surge. The 12-part drama follows the love story of Irish teenagers Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal), who begin a secret tryst that evolves into a hot and heavy four-year love affair full of fits and starts.

What on its surface could have been another cheesy teen romance quickly garnered critical acclaim for its authentic depiction of first-love chemistry and the “wrenching process of breaking down the person you were in order to become the person you’re going to be,” according to The New York Times. How did Normal People depict young love so accurately? Here are some facts about the steamy series.

1. Normal People was a best-selling book before it was a hit TV show.

Author Sally Rooney published Normal People, her second novel, in 2018 and it quickly became a U.S. bestseller—selling almost 64,000 copies in hardcover in its first four months of release, according to Vox. It even beat out former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Becoming to be named Book of the Year at the British Book Awards and was long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.

2. Actor Paul Mescal is more like his Normal People character Connell Waldron than you might think.

Paul Mescal, the 24-year-old Irish actor who plays Normal People’s handsome lothario Connell Waldron, may be a TV newcomer, but he was a shoo-in for the leading man role. Like Connell, Mescal grew up playing Gaelic football and attended Trinity College in Dublin. Plus, he told GQ that Connell’s identity crisis felt all too familiar, saying, “how he perceives himself in the world and versus what he actually wants to do is also something that I definitely related to.”

3. A tip-off from a friend helped Daisy Edgar-Jones land the role of Marianne on Normal People .

Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal in Hulu's 'Normal People'
Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal in Hulu's Normal People.
Hulu

Had Daisy Edgar-Jones not heard her friend auditioning for Marianne in her kitchen one day, she might never have sent in her own tape and scored the part. "I was in my bedroom and I was listening in," Edgar-Jones told Metro about how she learned of the project. "I was like, 'Oh, that sounds good.'" Normal People co-director Lenny Abrahamson was apparently so impressed by Edgar-Jones that the production flew her from England to Ireland for a chemistry reading with Mescal, who had already been cast. Needless to say, their chemistry was fog-your-glasses real.

4. Normal People employed an intimacy coordinator to make the sex scenes authentic.

There’s a reason Normal People’s 41 minutes of sex scenes felt so real: The series employed an intimacy coordinator. Ita O’Brien is something of a pioneer in the field of amping up the realism of on-the-set intercourse. In addition to Normal People, she has worked on shows like The Great, Sex Education, Gangs of London, and I May Destroy You to make spicy sequences as authentic as possible.

5. The COVID-19 pandemic has been blamed on Normal People’s sex scenes.

Archbishop Michael Cox of the breakaway Tridentine wing of the Catholic Church told the Irish Sun that Normal People's full-frontal nudity was blasphemous and suggested that it somehow could be the cause of ... the current coronavirus pandemic?

“I’m not surprised we have COVID-19 with this sort of stuff on TV," Cox said. "Do I think that these outrages are responsible for the coronavirus? I think people should read the Bible and find out."

6. Connell’s signature silver chain on Normal People has its own Instagram account.

Paul Mescal in 'Normal People'
Normal People star Paul Mescal's silver chain has its own devoted fan base.
Hulu

If you want to understand the depths of fans’ passion for Normal People, look no further than Instagram account @connellschain. More than one thinkpiece has been penned about what author Rooney described in her book as “an unadorned silver neck chain” Connell wears throughout the story. Costume designer Lorna Marie Mugan had Connell wear it throughout filming and it caused such a stir that an observant viewer created a thirst account around the necklace which now has more than 186,000 followers.

7. Normal People has been lauded for making nudity an equality issue.

Unlike most depictions of TV nudity that tend to only showcase women's bodies, Normal People took the bold step of make sure that the skin exposure was equally split between Edgar-Jones and Mescal—a move that has been seen as a win for women in film. Mescal was fully onboard with directors Abrahamson and Hettie McDonald’s choice. “I was very keen that male nudity was more present, if not at least equal, because it makes no sense for it not to be the case," Mescal told Digital Spy. "If you're portraying nudity, why would it be any different if you're going to do it properly?"

Edgar-Jones wholeheartedly agreed with the direction as well, saying, “I wanted it to feel that it was equal, and also that the nudity wasn't sexualized—which I don't think it is. I think it's more often in a nonsexual capacity that they are nude."

8. The Normal People series takes some creative license with the book.

Like many adaptations for television, the Normal People series didn’t follow Rooney’s book entirely. Marianne's brother Alan is even more aggressive toward her in the novel. For instance, in the scene when she's home from college, he pours dishwater over her head, but in the book he grabs her by the arm and spits on her. The endings are also different. Spoiler alert: In the book Marianne doesn’t find out about Connell’s New York City MFA program until the very end, leaving their parting more nebulous than their television sweet goodbye.

9. There’s a Normal People/Fleabag crossover sequel.

Thanks to RTE Does Comic Relief, a fundraising effort in support of pandemic victims, TV viewers were given a comedy sketch starring Edgar-Jones and Mescal as their Normal People characters going to confession with Fleabag’s "Hot Priest" Andrew Scott. Dubbed “Normal People Confessions," the skit shows a forlorn Connell pouring out his soul to Scott's all-too-understanding priest before a knock on the door brings Marianne into the confessional with her own divulgence. The one-night-only event saw 1.4 million people tune in and raised more than $5 million for the cause.

10. A second season of Normal People could happen—one day. Or it could not.

Given the popularity of Normal People's first season, it's only natural that people are already asking about the possibility of a season 2. While it was originally written as a limited series and no second season has been confirmed, many of the show's key participants have been vocal about being game to revisit the world of Normal People. In a recent interview with Deadline, Abrahamson said:

"We’ve talked about the possibility of how interesting it would be to check back in with them, but apart from just general musings and over a drink, no, there have been no concrete discussions about what it would be like. As Sally says, the book stops where it stops because it feels right. But, I have a sneaking thing in the back of my head that if everybody was willing, and if the stars aligned, I’d love to revisit them in five years and find out what happened, where they are. Is somebody a father or a mother? What relationships are they in that then get disrupted by their meeting again? But it would be really strange to pick that up eight weeks later with him traveling to New York, I think. There needs to be time ... You’d do it for real, you’d do it á la Before Sunset.”