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No more New Year's resolutions
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The resolution free guide to a great 2022

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In our already time-poor lives do we really need more resolutions? Here are some ways to make changes without adding any unnecessary pressure.

20th Jan 2022
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Have you ever made a new year resolution? How long until you broke it? Perhaps it was a gym membership, or dry January? Perhaps you embarked on Veganuary before realising how much brain space it took to really get it right? A new year does feel like the right time to make some changes, but how do we get it right without it feeling like yet another burden in our already time-squeezed life?

What not to do

Often, we make big, bold claims and initially take massive action: like heading to the gym three times a week, throwing out all the biscuits and buying a ton of salad. We set our intentions on big leaps, like losing a stone or training for a half marathon. 

The trouble with this is that the brain loves routine and known scenarios: we move straight from our comfort zone into the panic zone. Our ‘fight or flight’ switches on and we can feel anxious and uncomfortable. If we try to fit all this in along with everything we usually do, it only takes a couple of failures or false starts, and we give it all up. The next time we think about a similar change our inner voice pipes up, “Remember how badly that went last time?”

In nature everything else has retreated within to rejuvenate and come out again in the spring and yet here we are buying gym gear and planning massive endeavours 

It’s winter, it’s cold and dark and our bodies are designed to rest at this time. In nature everything else has retreated within to rejuvenate and come out again in the spring and yet here we are buying gym gear and planning massive endeavours. If like me you love a salad when the sun is shining, the thought of lettuce and a Ryvita may not feel too enticing!

Finally for this year in particular, we have had a period of massive change and uncertainty, which we are still in. We have had to change, adapt, support others, learn new routines and tech and then change some more. We are all fatigued by change and so jumping into new health routines and massive shifts just may not work.

So how do we create a great 2022?

Start by looking back. Think about what you would like to change. Cast your mind back over the last year and, without guilt or excuses, think about what didn’t go to plan. Perhaps you couldn’t find the time for you because you worked more hours than you would like. Perhaps you said yes to everyone else and didn’t have time for you.

Maybe you embraced a lack of routine a little too well and didn’t move as much as you used to. Life can bring with it bigger challenges too, like losing a loved one or a change in circumstances…all these things can leave us craving a better way.

Movement is great for our bodies, and at this time of year being outside in the middle of the day helps with our body’s natural rhythms

One way of working out what you do want is listing everything you don’t want in your life in 2022 and then flip it. Write the polar opposite in a positive statement. For example: ‘I ate way too much chocolate and beige food.’ Turns into, ‘I always choose nurturing, wholesome food.’ ‘I never have enough time’ can flip into, ‘I always have time for the important things in life and myself.’

If you like this way of working you will end up with some great 2022 mantras! Write them on post-its and stick them up over your desk or the back of the bathroom door, you will always have inspiration on hand.

Enter the stretch zone

Rather than a huge list of changes, start small and change one thing. A good start would be ensuring you have seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If you struggle to sleep, perhaps aim for an extra 30 minutes. Writing down 10 good things that happened that day can be a great way of improving your sleep.

Rather than restricting your diet, start by adding more good foods in. Colourful fruit and vegetables, in particular root vegetables are nurturing for our bodies. Notice when you are hungry and ensure your cupboards and fridge are full of easy, good choices. If you crave sweet things, perhaps yogurts, grapes or energy balls could be an enticing alternative to the chocolate bar.

Movement is great for our bodies, and at this time of year being outside in the middle of the day helps with our body’s natural rhythms. Why not commit to a 10-minute walk at lunchtime or before your mid-morning coffee?

How do you want to feel?

If you felt stressed, sad, overwhelmed, angry or frustrated in 2021, how would you like to feel in 2022? Emotions are not good or bad, merely a reflection of where we are in that moment. If you know how you would like to feel, perhaps you can choose activities that create that.

Do what you love, live your life your way. If you’re not feeling like a new January, choose February or March

In times of stress, we can change our state by reminding ourselves of happier times. If you are struggling, look back through phone pictures of past holidays, celebrations and sunny days. When something good happens, capture it to enjoy in the future.

Quick hacks to start 2022 with a sizzle!

  • Ask yourself as you start your day: “What one thing can I do today that my future self with thank me for?” 
  • Embrace a nap: 20 minutes really can boost a sluggish afternoon! 
  • Prioritise: say yes to things that take you towards your goals and no to things that take you further away.
  • Surround yourself with people that make you laugh or inspire you.
  • If there are people who drain your energy reduce your time spent with them.
  • Add positive words to your vocabulary like awesome, amazing, fabulous, brilliant, lovely.

And finally, just be you, after all everyone else is taken! Do what you love, live your life your way. If you’re not feeling like a new January, choose February or March…or every Monday. Whatever you do, be kind to yourself, be your own best friend. In embracing your life and loving how you live it you may well inspire someone else in the process.

Interested in this topic? Read Embracing the fresh start effect.

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