January brings a sense of new beginnings – and with the arrival of the new year, you might feel you’ve missed the mark if you haven’t chalked up a list of resolutions. You know them well – losing weight, getting fitter, eating healthier or spending less!
The problem with resolutions is that they tend to be inflexible (we should or shouldn’t do XYZ), and usually focus on moving away from what we consider negative vices or bad behaviours – eating chocolate, drinking alcohol or spending too much money.
We also tend to set the bar impossibly high and expect a lot of ourselves – running everyday, quitting caffeine completely or beginning a complete sugar ban. These types of resolutions don’t allow for the realities of life (what happens when there’s a slice of birthday cake, you have terrible caffeine withdrawal or you’re sick and can’t run for a week?) – and thus leave us feeling miserable when we inevitably fail.
What can you bring in, versus leave out?
This year, we’d like to encourage you to focus on what behaviours you can bring IN to your life, versus what you need to take away or stop. Setting the intention of adopting new, small behaviours (versus trying to break down old hardwired ones, which is very, very difficult) will shape your life in positive ways.
Think small, fun habits that are enjoyable – if you’re struggling, give yourself ten minutes to brainstorm a list of all the things you enjoy and which foster a sense of happiness and wellbeing – this could be anything from having a cup of tea with a friend, to reading a book or walking in the park. If you need further inspiration check our lists below – but choose things which appeal to you, versus those you think you should do.
Keeping it going
It’s easy to feel enthused about new intentions – when we set goals, we light up the part of the brain linked with reward – which helps us feel excited and raring to go. This is enough to get us started with intentions – the trickier part is keeping them going.
The key is to make your intentions enjoyable and easy and that in itself will make them rewarding, so you will want to continue. You can help along the process by tracking them too – every time you tick your action off, you’ll get a sense of achievement and your brain gets a little hit of dopamine – think of it as a mini fist pump for your mind. Try this tracker, list two-three new actions you’re going to take and then check in daily and then at the end of the month.
Bear in mind that it takes time to build new habits – researchers at University College London determined that it takes an average of 66 days for a new behaviour to stick – that’s around two months of repeated action. So give yourself time to let the good things stick by repeating them often.
What are you bringing in this January? Snap a pic, tag us on Instagram @symprove and let us know with the hashtag #newbeginnings
Feel-good habits to bring in this January
Make time to eat breakfast at home
Eat a colourful salad every day
Try out a new recipe once a week
Have a piece of fruit every morning
Drink a glass of water when you wake up
Eat lunch away from your desk
Aim for 30 different plant foods each week (try this calendar)
Have a green smoothie each day
Eat oats for breakfast
Start your day with a shot of Symprove
Book a dinner date with friends once a month
Schedule a call with a friend once a week
Text someone you love every day
Send a letter or card to a friend or loved one each week
Create a 30 minute relaxing bedtime routine – dim the lights, have a hot shower, read a book, lie and listen to music
Practice a nightly yoga wind down
Put your phone into flight mode an hour before bed
Drink herbal teas after midday
Move your body for 30 minutes every day – however feels good
Stretch for 10 minutes when you get home from work
Walk 10,000 steps every weekday
Start your day with 10 minutes of morning yoga
Take a 15 minute walk in your lunch break
Visit a park every week
Go for a wild swim once a month
Start your day with 10 minutes of meditation. Try headspace or Bliss more.
Read for 15 minutes each day (pleasure versus work!)
Take a nature photo every day
Take yourself on a date each week – cinema, museum, something fun, just for you
Write down one pleasurable moment from your day before you get into bed