Here’s to a happy, healthy and stress less New Year!

The New Year’s such a great time for looking forward. It signifies new beginnings, opportunities and of course new ways of doing things. And rightly so, it can often highlight areas that weren’t so helpful in the past and that we want to change now. But making those changes happen without reverting back to our old ways isn’t always so easy. With this in mind, I thought I’d share a few tips to help us move forward in the most stress less of ways.

1 Let’s reconfigure our resolutions. It’s great to be excited about our new goals, but before rushing in, let’s ask ourselves – “What will help us to actually achieve them, and to make them sustainable?” I often ask myself this because when I was working in public health, I saw year upon year, people who desperately wanted to lose weight or to improve their health. They were so excited, until they hit road blocks which eventually stopped them.

So what are your goals for this coming year? What are the things that you want to set in motion? Now ask yourself – What do I need to do to make this possible?

2 Be honest and realistic with yourself. January CAN be a momentum month, but in some ways it’s also a sloth month. Although it’s a time when we want to surge ahead, our bodies are often saying, “This is a month to hibernate and rest.” So if you know that January is going to be really busy for you and that you’ll struggle to maintain or even start your goal, just breathe and congratulate yourself for being honest.

3 Start anytime. I’m not saying that we ignore the momentum of January. January moment is good. But we can actually start working towards our goals on December 28th, January, 18th, 19th or even February 2nd ! The point is that WE stop giving ourselves a hard time and…….START. Now here’s a confession. I had planned for this piece to be written in November and finished by the beginning of December, but it was just so difficult to start writing. So you know what? I was realistic with myself; I stopped giving myself a hard time, and eventually, got started (albeit little later than intended). The point is that I started.

4 Do one thing. Just one. If your goal is to lose weight, what one thing can you do to make this happen? Maybe it’s making a call, checking out a site or visiting a club or gym. As the writing process takes me ages, I work on it a little every day until it’s done. This doesn’t work for everyone but this one thing works for me. Remember that the kind of change that we want to achieve is often done “slowly but surely”.

5 Write it down. Seeing our outcomes enables us to align our minds with our goals. So write down what you want to achieve and why it’s important to you. Again ask yourself, “What will the benefit be to me?”  Although we may not make the changes immediately, when we do start, we will absolutely know why we’re doing it.

6 Move beyond will power to Community Power! Even if you’re pretty self- motivated, community support can really help. It’s much easier to move forward when we have others to support us. Community helps us to find those who will celebrate our achievements and encourage us when we hit a rough patch. So be brave and find those (online or offline) who will be part of your support team and include them in what you’re doing.

7 Steadily and surely. We often assume that making changes and reaching our goals is like climbing stairs. But in reality we don’t start at the bottom and just keep climbing. Things come up; we get distracted and our priorities change. Making change actually takes us through a number of stages. Firstly; pre-contemplation. At this stage, all we’re doing is thinking about the action that we want to make. Then at some stage we’ll move on to contemplation. Here’s where we’re fully aware of the change that we want to make and understand what we need to do. But at this stage we can sometimes get frightened and end up back at pre-contemplation! Or, we can propel forward to preparation. This is where we start taking the steps towards making the change. Now stop for a minute. Did you see that preparation is actually step 3, not step one? We can be so hard on ourselves, that we forget that preparing for change is a big deal, especially if you haven’t done it before. If you’re not ready to make that change yet, you will eventually. And then you’ll get to the next stage which is action. We-hey you’re on your way!

8 Celebrate. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve worked with, who are disappointed when they only lose 1-2lbs a week. 1-2lbs from nothing is AMAZing. From nothing to something takes a huge amount of courage, energy and continued effort. So let’s not dismiss the small steps. We’ll finally move on to the maintenance stage. “What? Maintenance? Not success?” Well sorry no. Remember change takes courage, time and continued effort. Even when we’re on track, we’ve still got to do things to keep the goals alive. This means that even when we’re at the action stage, we may have a bit of a wobble and end up back at pre-contemplation. But this is good; this is the cycle of change!

Now a really lovely thing to do is to tune into the things that already sustain us. Ask yourself some questions (and it’s also a good idea to keep a copy which you can look at again and again). So starting with:

My favourite song is………………………

My happy place is……………………….

My favourite recipe (or feel good food) is…………………….

I feel happy when…………………………..

I love the smell of…………………………….

My favourite time of day is………………………………

I’ll leave you with this wonderful quote by Rumi which I’ll be reflecting on throughout the year. ‘Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself’. I hope that yes, we’ll achieve our goals, but more than this, I hope that we’ll live this year reminding ourselves that it’s all about sharing, caring and loving whether that’s for ourselves or others – Happy stress less living my friends X