New year, another New Years Resolution!
Every year we start the cycle saying we’re going to encourage new (good) habits and that we’re going to become the best versions of ourselves, yet almost half of us will give up on our goals by February. So what are we going to do about it?
The best starting point is setting achievable goals! While something like ‘being healthier’ might be easy to say, in reality it can be much more difficult to achieve and maintain. Instead, choose some small steps you can take towards achiveing your bigger goal and set your intention for your year on these small, attainable goals. By starting small it is easier to incorporate these changes into your everyday life, which can lead to more substantial changes as the year goes on. This isn’t about reinventing the wheel, we don’t want to change everything you’re doing (that’s hard, and likely unsustainable), instead, aim to change one thing at a time.
To break this down further, let’s run with the ‘being healthier’ example. There are so many facets of ‘health’ that we can look at; the way you eat, the way you move, the state of your mental health and so much more. Funnily enough, these tend to form some of the most popular new years resolutions, so we’re going to have a look at them up close.
If you’re starting from nothing, exercising can be a very achievable goal. It can be as simple as adding just one regular element of movement in to your day. It could be a walk around the block while you have your morning coffee? Perhaps 5 minutes of stretches before bed? Walking to the train station or bus stop? You might even consider getting on or off public transport one stop further away from your work/house so you have to walk that little bit more? You don’t have to dedicate hours to your new habit, just start doing small things and as your body comes to realise how much better it feels with a little bit more movement, it’ll be easier to make bigger changes.
If you’re already at the stage of wanting bigger change, like going to the gym or to exercise classes, it’s a great idea to make it a fun! Start by shopping around to your local gyms or studios, see which ones have beginner trials, see which classes you actually enjoy or what trainers or teachers you like. Once you’ve found something you enjoy, you will find it easier to fit in the schedule and commit. If it is truly enjoyable, it will be easier to get into a rhythm and continue long term.
For many of us, finding the time is the hardest thing, and for those with little ones, guilt can add to this. You really might need (and of course deserve) the time for yourself, but if that is not feasible, maybe you can incorporate some movement with the kids. This might be the idealistic home yoga, but could also be committing to outside play with them once a day.
Diets are a big thing we hear talked about around the new years period, and if you’re considering one or feel like you’re not eating in the way you would like to, we’d always recommend speaking to a dietician and getting accurate advice tailored for you rather than following something you’ve read or heard about. We’re not experts so our recommendations (beyond speaking to a professional) are pretty limited. But following the starting with small steps message is what we are recommending here. Before we list any examples, it’s important to note that a small change around eating or food preparation for one person can be a monumental step for someone else, as our life experiences impact how we approach food and eating.
Food has the purpose of giving us energy, nutrients and pleasure, so it’s crucial to not have a mindset of restriction when planning your meals. In line with this, we prefer not to label foods as good/bad, healthy/unhealthy and ultimately work towards intuitive eating which involves listening to your body and to feed yourself the things your body is actually needing. However, we acknowledge that this can take a long time to develop and for some people, small practical steps can help to keep our intakes closer to our goals. These steps might be incorporating more vegetables (in number and variety) into your diet, eating out less, meal prepping more or just having a selection of wholefood snacks available at home/work.
Due to the mixed messaging around food and diets in the media, we are mindful of not adding more to this list here. It’s just important to recognise that our individual views of what is ‘healthy eating’ vary greatly. We have a range of trusted clinicians and resources we can share that might be suitable for you – please get in touch if this interests you. If you or someone you know may be suffering from disordered eating, then we strongly suggest seeking professional help rather than using this or any other online source as a guide.
Improved mental health
Mental wellbeing plays a significant role in your physical and overall health. You might be used to your osteo telling you to spend a bit more ‘me time’, or do something for stress relief. This is so much easier said than done, however something small and daily may be enough to make a difference in the long run. Something to try might be starting the day with an affirmation in the mirror, journalling or ensuring you stick to the above goal of daily movement. Even just sitting for 2 minutes and focusing on your breath can make a big difference to our bodies stress levels.
For many however, the holiday time of year can bring an increase in anxiety and stress. Spend more time with the people and furry ones that keep you feeling safe and give yourself permission to say no to any event or catch up that feels like too much. If you are in need and not already connected, there’s a lot of fantastic psychologists and therapists to help you through this time and in to the new year.
Our suggestion is to add just one or maximum two of these small steps as your goals to start for the year. Even with small goals, we only have so much capacity for motivation and change, so keep it simple. See the list in the image at the top of the page – what do you think about this list? Are there too many goals? Or are they suitable as they are small and individually achievable?
In essence it also depends on how kind you are to yourself. If missing a week of gym means you feel terrible about yourself and stop going altogether then maybe that goal was too big for now. Goals should be about gradual change and things that are sustainable and that nourish and help you feel better. Goal setting should not be about perfection, not having room to fail and try again, and most certainly not about restriction and self-punishment. If any of these emotions are feeling familiar to you, it might help to work with health practitioner or mental health therapist when looking at goal and habit setting.
In case you didn’t read between the lines, our goal for the new year is to make small, incremental changes rather than setting out overly ambitious goals that may be hard to achieve. Little changes can go a long way over time, but it’s important to remember that you already are a fully formed, functional and fantastic human being, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do everything you set out to this coming year.
Happy new year and hope you have a rewarding and relaxing 2024!