We are less than a week into 2017 and the best thing about a new year is that it is a fresh start. The beginning of a year is often viewed as the chance to go forward on a clean slate and an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past.
Yes, all the bad habits and things in our lives that are having a negative impact or no longer bringing up happiness can now be eradicated, instead adopting more positive changes to hopefully last for the long-term.
These positive changes are commonly known as New Year’s resolutions. Dating back to Roman times, people would typically make a vow to be good to each other, and this is something which some people today probably still plan to do through the forthcoming year and beyond.
As times have changed in the modern day, our resolutions reflect this and you may find people now plan to ‘Cut down on Facebook’ or ‘Sell unwanted junk on Ebay’, demonstrating how technology has impacted our outlook on life.
Irrespective of the times though, there are some resolutions that will simply never go out of fashion. Some of the most commonly adopted New Year’s Resolutions include:
- Lose weight
- Quit smoking
- Eat more fruit and veg
- Exercise more
- Cut down on alcohol
- Get organised
- Save money
- Spend more time with family
- Find love
Now, if you’re one of the thousands of people around the country that have decided to make a New Year’s resolution to reduce your future alcohol intake by abstaining from it through the month of January, at least you won’t be alone. There are millions of people that will be participating in ‘Dry January’.
Studies have shown that the benefits of not drinking for just a month will actually last for much longer than the 31 days of January, even if you should decide to reintroduce alcohol at a later point.
There is evidence to show that even six months later, those who successfully lasted the 31 days of January were less likely to suffer with alcohol abuse, with positive behavioural changes found in people who started but did not manage to finish the Dry January challenge.
To get through the month, don’t focus on what you will apparently be losing or missing out on. Instead, look at the many things that will be beneficial from reducing alcohol intake and how your life will improve; more money, more time, better sleep, no horrible hangovers, improve in moods, undoubted weight loss…the list simply goes on.
However, if you think you will need some guidance in sticking to your resolutions as the year goes on, let Medical Specialists® help you with some tips on how to achieve them.
. Plan out small, realistic steps to your goals
Realising your ultimate goal, say losing weight, can be intimidating at the beginning of your journey. Creating one giant goal of simply ‘lose weight’ means you are much less likely to accomplish this unless you create some broken-down, personal, actionable steps. For instance, try writing down a series of smaller milestones that you can do before you reach the bigger picture. This could be ‘joining the local gym’, ‘switch from whole milk to skimmed’, ‘go for a 20 minute jog on Tuesday and Thursday mornings’.
. Anticipate obstacles that could arise
Focusing back onto the previous example of losing weight and going for jogs as part of this, an obstacle for this could be the weather. Plan ahead and check weather forecasts; is it going to be cold the next morning? Is it going to rain? Make sure you are fully equipped for everything and have appropriate running shoes, gloves, a woolly hat and make yourself visible with a reflective jacket if it is dark in the morning. If possible, having a treadmill at home could keep you on your weight loss goal for the occasions it is simple not feasible to get out for a jog. Or if you are worried about temptations with ‘bad’ foods whilst trying to adhere to a healthy diet, create avoidance tactics.
. One thing at a time
A limited amount of willpower we possess means that tackling multiple resolutions simultaneously is just asking for trouble, and likely unattainable. Focus on one goal at a time and when you have accomplished a particular goal, move on to the next. Remember you have twelve months to hit your targets, which brings us on to our next point; Try to keep your resolutions to an absolute maximum of ten.
. Don’t beat yourself with each slip up
You are only human at the end of the day and there is a good chance you will fall off track at least once or twice along the way to reaching your goals. For example, quitting smoking could be one your resolutions for the year and something happens during that year that upsets you, and you smoke one cigarette. Don’t dwell on it, learn from it. Slip-ups like that actually usually strengthen a person’s resolve to meet their goals. Find ways to manage stress or discover other things to do when you find yourself tempted by that cigarette or chocolate cake (if trying to lose weight).
. Document your progress
There are many ways to do this in the modern age of technology. You could maintain a word document tracking your progress through the year as you reach each goal, describing your emotions and feelings on a daily basis, or what temptations and triggers you faced if you had slipped up. Positive and negative actions made during the year allow you to reflect on the time in an honest way. There are also many smartphone apps that will allow you to track your progress and alert you to what the triggers are to your behaviour patterns. Consider joining online forums where you can find support in others who might be going through similar experiences to yourself. Having people to share your successes and struggles throughout the year will make it easier to achieve your New Year’s resolutions.