Sometimes New Year’s resolutions can feel like a lot of pressure, and because of this, statistically most of our efforts don’t tend to last. So how do we find the balance between bringing positive change into our lives in the New Year without the added pressure to achieve perfection?
Focus on the small wins. In the long run, positive change is all about consistency. If overhauling your diet or starting a seven-day fitness routine is exciting to you, great; but if the idea of strict resolutions feels daunting, don’t let it be a reason not to do something to nourish your well-being this year.
If you’d like to try something a little different in 2021, get inspired with this list of positive things to do in January that don’t involve dieting…
1. Virtual therapy
2020 was a tough one, but something positive that came from it is the light it shed on the importance of nurturing our mental health. It can be so easy to push our feelings to the side – especially when things are feeling a bit chaotic. However, getting into the habit of brushing off our emotional responses and experiences can seriously impact our mental wellbeing in the long run. Studies suggest that regular talk therapy can massively benefit our mental wellbeing, so why not give yourself the gift of talking to someone? Lots of registered therapists are now offering online sessions so you can arrange them to fit your schedule.
The practice of journaling is consistently mentioned as a healthful practice, with suggested benefits including helping to process thoughts, release stress and create mindfulness. Find a way to make journalling work for you that supports consistency rather than perfection. Personally, I find that simply making the commitment to write for five minutes, rather than 20, is more achievable, and often ends up with me writing for 20 minutes anyway.
3. A physical activity that you actually enjoy
There really is no way around the fact that regular movement is vital for both our physical and mental well-being, so you might as well find something that you enjoy. If you’re the type of person that considers themselves to be fitness averse, then focus on the little ways you can bring more activity into your day. Why not commit to walking to the supermarket instead of driving? Or challenge yourself to take the stairs instead of the escalator? Perhaps you can set a goal to walk when on work calls or do a few squats every time you’re waiting for the kettle to boil? The point is that it doesn’t have to be perfect, the goal is simply to move and build upon your habit from there.
4. Make a veg pledge
Instead of focusing on all the things you should give up, what about what to include? Vegetables have vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibres and phytonutrients – with research consistently showing that those who reach their 5-a-day have a lower risk of developing health issues such as certain cancers and heart disease. So instead of trying to eliminate all of your favourite foods, make the decision to start filling half of your plate with a delicious veggie side.
Need inspiration? 38 best ever side dishes
5. Bath like a boss
Often referred to as the ‘calming’ mineral, magnesium plays a role in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body, making it a super important nutrient. It has several benefits, from supporting mood and blood sugar balance, to aiding exercise performance and muscle recovery. While it can be obtained in the diet through foods such as nuts, seeds and green veggies, I like to give myself a boost during times of high stress or intense exercise, by indulging in a weekly bath using magnesium salts.
6. Snuggle with benefits
Snuggling under a blanket as a way to support sleep and ease anxiety? When I heard about weighted blankets, I was certainly intrigued, but it wasn’t until I read the science that I got really excited. Weighted blankets help to ground your body during sleep by pushing it downwards, while also stimulating a type of therapy called ‘deep pressure touch’, which has been used to ease pain, anxiety and support mood.
7. Hack an existing habit
Sensitive to dairy? Switch to oat milk in your coffee. Pizza Friday? Choose a healthier cauliflower base or try a gut-friendly sourdough version. The point is, you don’t always need to do a complete habit overhaul in order to feel the difference. Instead, look for the small tweaks you can make to your everyday habits that will result in the greatest effect. The more painless it is to incorporate change into your lifestyle, the more likely you are to adopt consistency – which is the real measure of successful change over time.
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