New Year, New You

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If your impossible New Year’s Resolutions always fail, change the little things for success

If you make – and fail to keep – the same resolutions year after year, you’re not alone. Only one in 10 people who make common resolutions such as to lose weight, stop smoking or exercise more, manage to achieve their goal. Research shows that those who succeed usually do so by breaking down their goal into smaller, achievable targets, feeling a sense of achievement each time the target was met.

But resolutions don’t have to be about giving something up, it can be about adding good things into your life, too.

Lose weight

Take it a day at a time and keep a food journal to track what you really eat each day. Plan ahead – if you know you’ve got a big night out which will rack up the calories, cut back on other days. Set a weekly or monthly target as well as your long term one.

Stop smoking

Even if you’ve failed before doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. Try a new method – patches, hypnosis, e-cigarettes. Set yourself a weekly target and reward yourself with something with the money you’ve saved that week.

Cut down on drinking

While an alcohol-free January is popular with many, it’s better to cut out alcohol at least a couple of times a week on a regular basis, so give yourself two alcohol-free days a week (three is better!) and stick to them.

Reduce stress levels

It’s the small, every day stresses that take the most toll. Take a good look at what stresses you out and then work out how you can reduce this. Never enough of the right food in the house? Take one hour on a Sunday to set up online supermarket shopping and have it delivered at a time that suits you.

Staying in contact

Research shows that staying in touch with friends and family is important for our wellbeing, as those with strong social bonds live longer than those who don’t. Just seeing what they’re doing on facebook isn’t enough – pick up the phone.

Save money

Keep a journal for one month to see exactly what you spend your money on, including all cash purchases. You might be surprised at how much that daily café-bought coffee adds up to over four weeks, or your lunchtime sandwich. While you don’t want to give up your coffee totally, make it more of a treat two or three times a week.

Learn something new

Always wanted to learn something new, but never got around to it? Start in 2016. If you didn’t make the January start, it’s not too late, many adult education courses start after Easter, too. Why not chose something that is outside of your comfort zone and see how it challenges you?

Rest more

Short naps – a maximum of 20-30 minutes – have been shown to improve health, wellbeing and productivity. Don’t feel guilty about a quick cat nap, especially during a stressful period, it will help you to re-energise and work better afterwards.

Go travelling

Most of us say we’d like to travel more, but don’t actually get around to organising it. Block out three weekends in the coming year and plan ahead. It doesn’t have to be abroad or even expensive – try a youth hostel or B&B, but just go somewhere different. A change of scene will revitalise you and will help to get life back into perspective.

Small achievements go a long way to making a happier life. Start small and surprise yourself!

Pippa Duncan

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