New Year, New Me

By Suvi Loponen

January is time for new things, new beginnings and often unattainable resolutions. Making health-related New Year resolutions is a popular thing, proved by statistics. Statistic Brain Research Institute has made a list of the most common New Year resolutions, out of which actually only 8 per cent are achieved. More than anything we promise ourselves to “lose weight”, “eat healthier” and “improve ourselves in…” – with what results? Resolutions are like babies; easy to make but hard to maintain. Yet with some planning and tips, doable.

Losing weight and finally getting that body you’ve dreamed of having requires some specific targets to be set. Before starting your journey towards running a marathon, learn how to do it and how far you really want to go (also metaphorically). Decide that by the end of June you will run continuously three miles. Set a number of times you exercise in a week and stick to it. Those who do succeed in their resolutions, plan them and honestly, “I don’t have time”, is an excuse. Deciding you need to be more relaxed is not a goal you can reach, but you need to define how you will relax more.

Exercising is not only good for your body, but for your mind too. Going for even a short walk every morning can make that morning moodiness and lethargy disappear, because fresh air actually makes a difference in your body. Being less stressed about things that you really have no power to change makes your body’s cholesterol levels rise and thus makes the whole body to be in a constant state of alert, making it want to store fat among other nasty effects. Yoga and meditation are mindful activities that anyone can start at any point of their life – you don’t need to be flexible or chant ‘om’ doing them.

When making health-related resolutions, don’t just think the physical health. Your head is as important part of your body as pumped triceps and a to-die-for-bum, even if the latter looks better in those tight yoga pants. Set your mindful goals for the future by determining how you have been feeling the last year. Were you stressed all the time? Anxious and worrying about too many things?  If you are a person who struggles to set specific goals and specially to achieve those, you might just find resolutions ruining your mental stability. It’s okay not to set any.

Yet if you do, a journal might come in handy to set vaguer goals and keep track on your progress. Bullet journals (#bujo) have been the thing for a while and maybe, this year you could start yours. It’s an easy way to combine a calendar, to do list and a diary. Internet is full of examples how to do it. As it has some kind of rules in keeping it organised, it might be better option than a traditional Moleskin for those who really don’t know what to write about every day. I could argue that finding those notebooks with just one or two entries is not an unknown thing for any of us at the end of a year.

Consider also some of the external things in your life affecting your health. Maybe it is time to stop being so connected and busy with activities that really bring nothing meaningful into your life? Going to a spin class at 7am every Tuesday is maybe good for you physically, but if your mind would enjoy having a slow morning in bed and pancakes for breakfast, do it! Take some time to disconnect and spend time in nature rather than indoors to let your mind rest. Reassess your nutrition, but again don’t set goals that you cannot achieve. Cutting out some things completely takes time, but reducing for example the use of red meat and sugar in your diet can have a positive effect to your energy levels, sleeping and mind.

One feature to prevent you from feeling like you’ve done nothing in the last year is patience. If you fail one goal, just get back onto the bandwagon and keep on trying, maybe reset your goal but never give up. Update your targets, change the spinning class to yoga and focus on your feelings and thoughts throughout the year.

So this year, why not just think of it as a continuation of your life rather than a time when you need to do massive changes. At the end of the year, instead of looking which resolutions you have failed, just look at the past year and see how much you have achieved. Whilst new year resolutions can make you more anxious than excited, with the frightening list of everything that you could and maybe should change from the preceding year, remember that something is always better than nothing.