New Year, New You and the January Blues
Do you make New Year resolutions every year only to find that half-way through long and dreary January you’ve abandoned most of them? You’re not alone. It’s been proven time and time again that New Year resolutions don’t work. Here’s why.
Every first of January it’s the same old story ─ all over the world people make New Year resolutions. We promise ourselves to lose weight, hit the gym, give up drinking, quit smoking, eat vegan, go gluten free, stop drinking milk… The list is endless. So why is it then, that half-way through January most of us have abandoned all of our good intentions and carry on as before?
The reason is simple: most of the time, we set the stakes too high. If we’ve been overweight for years, we won’t suddenly lose thirty pounds by the end of January only because we’ve gone full-on into the next diet or hit the gym running. We’ve committed to doing things that don’t come naturally to us and that often don’t really interest us, truth be known. Do we really feel like getting up at 6 am just to make more time for a hard gym session? Probably not. Unless we’re fit and healthy already, hitting the gym will leave us feeling sweaty, tired and rather horrible ─ not exactly a great way to head off to work! And not very encouraging either if we’re not really into exercising. Dieting in January is also very hard indeed. After indulging over the holidays, a feeling of sudden depravation can set in. Plus our human bodies are genetically designed to hibernate. In other words, they store more energy in winter when it’s cold and dark, making it twice as hard to lose those pounds. January is often damp, cold and miserable. Not exactly a great motivator and mood lifter. The odds are really against us, in other words, and failure to stick to our resolutions makes us feel even more horrible than the cold weather.
Especially women tend to put themselves under a lot of pressure to perform every January, on top of their many existing pressures already. And yet this is so unnecessary. So, instead of making and breaking new years’ resolutions, why don’t we simply nurture ourselves all year round? Take time out every day to just be. Go for a walk, read a chapter of a good book. Listen to music. Dance. Paint. Sing. Do whatever makes us totally happy. Even if it’s for just half an hour, ten minutes even.
Whenever I have a busy day, I use the time I spend walking my dog for mindful meditation. I leave my phone at home, go to the local park, field or beach and focus all of my attention on engaging with my dog, looking at the sky, the clouds, the sea, the trees. That’s the trick to mindful meditation. We can do it anywhere and at any time. We just need to focus entirely on what we’re doing at the time and let any thoughts about other things drift by. Acknowledge them and switch our attention back to the present moment. No worrying about dinner, the job or any other stressful event. Just be.
In those moments when we allow our brain to relax, we get a lot of clarity, focus and inspiration. These are the moments our dreams and plans come to life. That’s why those little breathers are so utterly important to our wellbeing. Even once a day for just ten minutes if life is really busy. In the lunch break at work, when the kids are sitting quietly or have gone out, on the train during the daily commute. There are endless possibilities to fit a little time out into the day. If we start getting into this simple yet powerful habit, all other areas of our lives will fall into place and we’ll find our true happiness and joy in our lives. And once we’re at this point, we don’t need any New Year resolutions any more because we live our best life every single day.