Going into a new year gives us a reason to evaluate our current lifestyle, whether that’s eating habits, mental health awareness, hobbies, career choices or relationships with friends and significant others.
There are lots of ways to look at a New Year’s resolution. It doesn’t have to be something that seem so out of reach! Resolutions don’t have to be extreme to influence a change in your life. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the little wins are just as important as the big picture.
(That’s what psychology will tell you!)
In the weight loss journey, it’s all about adapting behaviors to create the desired lifestyle. It’s not about forever cutting out desserts or always saying no to a high-carb bagel. Healthy balance, intention and moderation are key here.
Resolutions aren’t just diet or nutrition adaptations, though.
Let’s apply that same thinking to your mental health. Many of these thoughts that we have, for example, “I’ll never be happier because I keep doing things that bring me down,” or in the case of weight loss, “I won’t lose any weight this week because I had another donut for breakfast. My whole day is ruined, so I might as well continue to eat like sh*t for the rest of the day.”
These are called thought distortions (thank you Noom, a wonderful app for a psychologist’s view on health).
Now, how can we fix these thoughts and influence our behavior to be a happier version of ourselves? That’s the hard part: the answers. Here’s a trick, though. Just thinking about how you’d like to better yourself is a step of progress. Write it down. Repeat it. Say it to yourself in the mirror. You are powerful. You will make a change in your life.
With some help from my friends, here are some resolutions I came up with to bring into the New Year.
- Prioritize your mental health… and don’t feel bad in doing so.
- Listen to your body when you have aches or pains: It’s telling you something.
- Love yourself first.
- Do meaningful work.
- Be better at communicating feelings with others. Believe it or not, people aren’t mind readers when it comes to emotions, and that’s okay.
- Don’t feel bad for saying “no” to going out with friends, especially if it’s in favor of your health.
- Donate clothes you don’t wear.
- Come up with words of affirmation to tell yourself each day. For example: I am strong. I am capable. I will make the most of today.
- Believe that your worth is not merely defined by the amount of times you work out, the lack of plans in your schedule or the types of meals on your plate.
- Learn to let go of things that you can’t control.
- Eat foods that are nutritious, healthy and fuel your body – but don’t put yourself down when you reach for the ice cream every once in a while.
- Journal every day.
- Walk the dog more (whether that’s every day or striving for once a week).
- Track your spending and keep budgets.
- Save up your coins (maybe that means start a coin jar to go towards next year’s vacation!)
- Care more about how healthy you’re feeling than the number on the scale.
- Work out to feel good, not to “get skinny.”
- Do random acts of kindness. Grocery shop for your grandmother. Leave a sticky note with kind words at your coffee shop’s table.
- Believe that you deserve the good things coming your way.
- Explore new ways to manage stress, like taking a warm shower, writing in a journal, visualizing yourself in a happy place, getting more organized or taking a moment to simply breathe.
- Take pictures every single day.
- Travel to somewhere you’ve never been. It could be a new town in your region, or a corner of the world that you’ve been dying to explore.
- Drink more water.
- Learn how to cook a dish (Bonus points if it turns out well).
- Try something out of your comfort zone.
There are definitely a lot more I could think up, but these are the ones that resonate with me the most.
One of my friends had the idea of “redefining the moment.” Meaning, instead of putting yourself down for not getting a workout in today, think to yourself, “It is okay. I deserve a day of rest. I have been working hard.”
I think this is a really important tool for self improvement. Of course, once it gets to a couple weeks without your normal workout routine, things start to change. This isn’t her idea, though. It’s not about how often you workout, that’s another concern entirely, but how you treat yourself.
Talk to yourself more kindly, even when you aren’t feeling the best about your actions. Talking down on yourself for not working out won’t improve the situation or change what has already happened. Instead, it will make you feel worse, and sometimes even less inclined to want to workout the next day, due to the stress, harmful thoughts and negative emotions linked to the action and its consequences.
This is something you’ll learn if you take up a psychology course! It’s also just a healthy habit that more of us should probably pay attention to.
In 2022, let’s work on ourselves. That can be physical, mental or both. Whatever speaks more to you, chase it – and don’t let it fade away once January comes to a close.
That’s right, I’m talking to you. Keep at it. You’re doing great.
Looking to get healthier in 2022?
Here are some tips on how to make healthy choices while eating at restaurants.
Check it out here.
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