It’s that time of year again when people make promises to themselves to drastically change something about their life. Mostly for the better, sometimes to the detriment of their health. We start thinking about how to keep our mental happiness topped-up. Crash diets, extreme exercise, unobtainable targets to develop a new hobby. The intentions of new years resolutions are good, we want to better ourselves and do something that will bring about good physical and mental health. But those intentions often get lost in misplaced ideas of what health is. A new fad diet won’t make us healthy in the long run. Or forcing yourself to spend an intense amount of time of a new hobby, like learning a new language, will mean you’re resentful of the time it’s taking and you’ll likely end up feeling like it’s work rather than play. Good intentions can often become a farce when we put too much pressure on ourselves.
So the question is, how can we challenge ourselves to make new hobbies that will actually continue to help us, even after the buzz of the new year has passed? I’ve highlighted five things you can do that will help build your sense of well being and improve your physical health, without having to make drastic changes. Making small changes in your life one at a time is a much more sustainable and beneficial way to approach resolutions. Make goals that are small, realistic and positive. Here are my
Five new years resolutions that are actually healthy:
1. Connect with people you love – Friends, family members, neighbours, colleagues. Take note of who makes you feel good about yourself. Who’s food for your soul? Who offers good advice, never makes judgements, is genuinely interested in how you are doing? Make an effort this year to spend more time and more focus connecting with that person. Whether it’s texting them more, going out of your way to talk to them once a week, inviting them for a drink, or visiting more often. Figure out a goal that fits into your lifestyle and stick to it. It might be a cliché but love is what makes the world go round.
2. Eat a balanced diet – Balanced being the keyword here. Don’t cut out carbs or meat or cheese and wine, if that’s what you enjoy eating. Just make an effort to be aware of what you’re eating. I try to be conscious of the 80-20 diet, where you eat good, nutritional foods 80 percent of the time, and yummy treat foods 20 percent of the time. Having a healthy body weight and being fit isn’t necessarily about depriving yourself, it’s about being conscious of the nutrition you’re feeding your body and having a balance of things you enjoy and things your body needs. The only ‘diet’ we should be eating is a balanced one.
3. Practice self-love – Take some time this year to listen to yourself. How are you feeling day by day, what makes you feel good? What makes you anxious or worried? It’s good to challenge ourselves but it’s also just as good to take care of ourselves and take a break when we need it. Make some time in your life to hibernate from the world, curl up in a blanket and let your brain switch off. Self-love is about treating ourselves as we would treat our loved ones. It’s about being aware of what we need and showing kindness by allowing ourselves to rest. Life isn’t all about hard work and sacrifices. Sometimes we need to recharge our batteries.
4. Make time to play – Play is one of the most important things for mental health. ‘Play’ doesn’t just mean spending time with your Lego or riding on the swings, although if that’s what makes you feel good, why not? To play as an adult means giving yourself time to really indulge in something you love, just for the sake of it. To me, play means getting out my paints, sticking some music on and simply playing with the colours on the paper, or ‘making a mess’ as my friend likes to call it. I don’t have an outcome or a final picture I’m trying to achieve. It’s important to do something for the journey, not the outcome, as for many people life is full of trying to achieve things and taking things too seriously. Let yourself off the hook for a while and do something fun, just because.
5. Embrace failure – Yes that’s right, we all fail, we all make mistakes, and yet, many people are so afraid of failure. If you allow yourself to not have all the answers you’ll find you enjoy trying new things a lot more. Life is a practice run and it’s about figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t. If you fail at something once, it doesn’t make you a ‘failure’ and it doesn’t mean you will fail again. If you embrace the mistakes and welcome them you will enjoy things a lot more. It takes the pressure off a bit. Go on, be brave, try something new and make sure you fail at it.
That’s just five new years resolutions that work for me. But it doesn’t have to be a new year for you to take a moment to reflect and look at where you could fill your life a bit more. It’s never too late for a new start. Whether you want to do it at the start of the month, week or even at the beginning of each day, take a moment to step back and reflect. Because it’s never too late to do something positive.
And if that’s not enough, here are some more ideas to help keep your mental happiness topped-up.