What is one of the first things we think about in the new year?
If you said ‘new goals’, you would be one of the many who hope to be healthier, happier and more productive in the coming year.
Sadly, it is believed that come February, at least 80% of new year resolutions are a distant memory. Why are we so unsuccessful with our well intended new year goals? Being too ambitious by having too many goals or setting unrealistic targets are major reasons for this setback.
As much as we would like to have one million dollars in our savings account by the end of 2019, most of us would agree that this is not likely a goal that can be achieved in the short term. Setting unrealistic goals is the best way to demotivate yourself.
Hate exercise? Don’t let waking up at 6am to go jogging before work be a resolution - you’re just setting yourself up to fail. Instead, your 2019 fitness goal could be to sign up for a group activity, or schedule a weekly workout with a buddy, that way, you are likely to feel more motivated to show up and keep moving!
1. Feed & Nurture Yourself
Are you bored? Find that there’s nothing meaningful thing to do? Refresh your soul and engage your mind by picking up a new hobby or skill. There are plenty of affordable activities, and free online courses on any topic you can think of, to challenge and sharpen your mind, and enrich your life.
Investing in yourself offers you a new, different perspective, which can impact your life and decision making in many positive ways.
2. Invest your time in stronger personal connections
We are social creatures. Studies show that individuals with a good social network are happier, healthier, and live longer. Get involved in group activities outside your usual circles. Joining a cooking class, or charity event, for example, can connect you with interesting people who you may not likely meet through your current social circle.
In addition to expanding your social circle, ensure that you have quality time with those already around you. Make it a point to make your loved ones and friends feel important, by keeping your mobile phone in your bag, or pocket when you are together.
3. Learn how to manage stress
Life can be hectic, and stressful. Often, things that cause us to stress are external, and beyond our control. We find ourselves waiting for our next holiday, to relax and unwind, and just soldier on until then. This shouldn’t be the way.
Chronic stress has a negative impact on your health, such as low immunity, poor digestion, and insomnia, and linked to a higher risk of mortality. Learning to manage stress, to find the calm in the storm, will make you happier and healthier. Useful stress management techniques include:
Deep Breathing: Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, while keeping your shoulders relaxed. Your belly should rise as you breathe in, not your chest. Breathe out slowly and evenly through your mouth, keeping your jaw relaxed. Deep, controlled breathing is amazingly effective for settling your mind and nervous system.
Exercise: Exercise helps to release endorphins, chemicals in the brain to boost pleasure to fight against stress and anxiety. Yoga, jogging and Zumba, for example, are good outlets for stress!
Learn to say NO: Know your limits, and learn to say “NO” when you find yourself taking on more than you can handle.
4. Start a Health Diary
Image courtesy of Sports Nutritionist James
Commit to better health. Your health is one of the most important factors that determines your quality of life.. Physical, emotional, and mental health are equally important for optimal health. Start your health journey as easy as the tips below:
Diet: Aim for at least 5 servings of fruits & vegetables a day. Minimise fast foods and processed foods. They offer you very little nutrients, while taxing your body’s resources to digest them. Learning about a new nutrient and its benefits each day will help broaden your health knowledge. Keeping a food and mood journal will help you associate certain foods with how they make you feel, and gradually you will work out which foods work better for you.
Sleep: Good quality sleep plays an important role in healing and cellular repair, and is essential to optimal health. 6-8 hours of good quality of sleep helps to improve your immune function, productivity & concentration.
Laugh: Anger and frustration trigger stress, while laughing releases it. Laughter increases confidence and creativity. Learn to laugh at yourself, and bring laughter to those around you for a happier and healthier 2019.
5. Reward Yourself
Recognise and reward your own accomplishments, big and small.
A reward for your hard work keeps you motivated and energised to stay the course during challenging days. An indulgent pastry, cheerful cocktail, or a short get-away, for example, are great self-treats to fuel you to keep moving towards your goals.
Your happiness is in your hands. Start the new year with small, positive changes each day to make your inner and outer world a happier place.
Pharmacist and formulator. Passionate about making a difference in healthcare and personal wellness through nutrition.