New Year resolutions sound like a great idea: a fresh year and a fresh start. So why do they often fail, asks Alison Runham
At New Year, festive goodwill and enthusiasm can encourage us to make overly ambitious resolutions, setting ourselves up to fail. So, here’s a look at the top three resolutions – and how to help keep them.
Your resolution: I’ll go to Pilates, do my dance DVD and walk two miles every week!
You didn’t manage any of these things every week last year – ask yourself why. Identify activities you enjoy and can most easily fit in.
A better resolution: I’ll do at least an hour’s exercise every week.
Weather too bad for walking? Missed Pilates? Resolve to do your exercise DVD instead. Anything else is a bonus. Better to do some exercise consistently than none.
Your resolution: ‘I won’t drink on weekdays/at home/ever again’
Recent research shows that even alcohol intake under the recommended limits of 2-3 units daily and 14 units per week increases your risk of many conditions, including dementia and some cancers
A better resolution: Think about when and where you drink alcohol, and reduce your intake gradually. Try:
- Matching every alcoholic drink with a soft drink.
- Finding other ways to relax if you always have a drink on returning from work .
- On alternate nights, swap that wine with dinner or beer with friends for low-alcohol or non-alcoholic versions.
Your resolution: ‘I smoke 30 a day, but I’m quitting for good at New Year!’
It’s probably quicker to list conditions not aggravated or caused by smoking than to list those that are, and accepting you’re addicted to nicotine can be hard. But that twitchiness you feel – the need for a cigarette to ‘calm your nerves’ – is nicotine withdrawal, which can occur very quickly.
A better resolution:
- Visit your GP. They can prescribe some nicotine replacement products and refer you to counselling.Make yourself smoke outside; it takes more effort. Toxins from your cigarette linger in the air (second-hand smoke) and settle on surfaces, where they’re re-released (third-hand smoke), so you’ll be improving the health of housemates and visitors too.
- Smoke to a timed schedule and gradually increase the time between cigarettes. Even if you smoke 25 a day and only drop one daily cigarette per fortnight, you’ll still be a non-smoker in under a year.
- Keep nicotine but eliminate cigarette toxins like cyanide and arsenic by swapping to e-cigarettes or vaporisers.