New Year is that time when we make all sorts of resolutions about improving our health – to quit smoking, to exercise regularly, and to eat well. But despite the best intentions, come February, many of our resolutions will have fallen by the wayside and we’ll be back to our old habits.
So what can we do to ensure that we stick to our resolutions and improve our health?
Psychologists have found we’re more likely to succeed if we break our resolution into smaller goals that are specific, measurable and time-based.
It also helps to make a plan about how you can best stick to your resolution. For example, it’s not enough to stick a picture of a thin model on your fridge if you want to lose weight – you need to plan how you are going to shed the pounds.
Top tips to achieving your New Year’s resolution
- Make just one resolution. Your chances of success are greater when you are focused on changing just one aspect of your behaviour.
- Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to think about your resolution. Take some time a few days before to reflect upon what you really want to achieve.
- Don’t feel you have to go with the usual resolutions – think about what you really want out of life.
- Break your goal into a series of steps that are concrete, measurable and time-based.
- Tell your friends and family about your goals. You’re more likely to get support and encouragement.
- Create a checklist of how life would be better once you obtain your aim. This will regularly remind yourself of the benefits associated with achieving your goals. Give yourself a small reward whenever you make progress to achieving your goals.
- Make your plans and chart your progress concrete by keeping a handwritten journal.
- Don’t be too disappointed if you revert to your old habits from time to time. Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether.
Common New Year health resolutions
Get practical tips to lose excess weight, including getting started, and healthy food swaps from the NHS Choices Lose weight link.
If you smoke, quit
If you’re having trouble quitting, start smoking less today – smoke only half a cigarette, and skip as many of your usual smokes as you can – and get help right away. Your local pharmacist is a good source of advice. Get some guidance about why it is you smoke to understand how best to stop doing it. Smoking cessation groups can be helpful and supportive, and medications like a nicotine patch can help decrease the cravings.
If you look forward to – or at least do not actively hate -a particular physical activity, do it. If you like tennis find an indoor court. If you like dancing look into dance-based workouts. Do whatever will make you move. If you like what you are doing, chances are you will do it continually. If you do not like what you are doing, you won’t do it. Try a variety of activities until you find one that sticks.
Drink less alcohol
Calculate your units, get tips on cutting down, track your drinking and find out where to get help and support. Visit the NHS Choices link Drink less alcohol
Drink more water
No matter where you are, water should always be the first thing you reach for when you’re thirsty. Water truly is essential.
Eat more fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals including folate, vitamin C and potassium. They are an excellent source of dietary fibre, which helps to maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation and other digestion problems. A diet high in fibre can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer, heart disease and stroke.
To get the most out of your 5 A DAY, your five portions should include a variety of fruit and vegetables. This is because different fruits and vegetables contain different combinations of fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
Eat at least two fish meals per week
The evidence is strong that the oils in darker types of fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring, are beneficial for the heart and brain and may even lower risk of cancer.
Click below to see a range of products from Spring Chicken that will help you with a healthier New Year.