New Year resolutions have changed for the better. A couple of years ago, this BBC feature ‘five tips for a healthier you‘ list would have all been about fad diets and grueling exercise. You know, the dreaded ‘no pain, no gain’ rationale. Today, things are gentler and more forgiving, with an eye on sustainability, rather than quick results.
Mental Health is a Must
This is first on the list, because the bus won’t get very far without the driver. Mental health has not always been associated with New Year’s resolutions, so it’s refreshing to see it centre stage. But even meditation and mindfulness are disciplines that can intimidate some newcomers. The article eschews the simple steps of self-awareness and reflection that anyone can do to build up mindfulness. When is your concentration at its best? What motivates you? What holds you back? Knowledge is power, so getting to know yourself makes perfect sense – especially when you are trying to make long-term life changes.
Even better, sleep is now being championed as an outright necessity for a healthy body and mind. You can’t pick up a wellbeing article these days without it acknowledging that everyone needs 7-8 hours of sleep. Thank goodness the ‘Gordon Gekko ‘Money Never Sleeps” mentality has passed. We can all roll over and enjoy a couple more hours of R&R.
Exercise can be ‘a walk in the park’
I watched a programme on telly last weekend about New Year resolutions that involved a lot of doctors and diet and exercise professionals. It’s official – diets make you fatter and joining a gym is a waste of money for most of us. The new get-fit rational is keep it enjoyable. If you like it, you will continue doing it. For example, dog owners tend to be fitter than most. Any responsible dog owner walks their pet daily, which means about 30 minutes in the morning and evening – exercise regime sorted! You can also ride your bike or do Yoga or HIIT routines at home (YouTube is great for these). If you’re still wedded to the gym, they’ve got smarter too. A lot of gyms now allow people to do monthly contracts or a set number of sessions, which is both easier on you and the bank balance.
Discipline is not a dirty word
Any sort of resolution is about discipline, which always seems to be in short supply. The January 2019 edition of Sainsbury’s Magazine features a great article called ‘Strategies for Self-Control’. It says that discipline is like a muscle that needs to be built up gradually (like remembering to sit up straight or replacing that bar of chocolate with a piece of fruit). Embarking on a new diet, get-fit regime, meditation practice and those drawing classes all in one go is too much for most mortals, so make one change at a time. It also suggests avoiding stress, because it depletes willpower. Who hasn’t opted for that bag of chips or glass of wine after a hard day? If your lack of discipline is the problem, why not start with that? There are plenty of self-help books on the subject.
Don’t forget to forgive yourself when you stumble and just continue on. Good luck to all of us with our New Year resolutions and our better selves!