New year resolutions: because January simply doesn't feel bleak enough!
Now I'm not against making new year resolutions, but I am against the punishing nature of most of them: give up something you enjoy, or starting to do something you don't.
Pah! It should be the other way around!
I mean come on, is that how you want your year to be, denying or punishing yourself?
I prefer something a little more gentle, a little more kind. Something more to do with empowerment, self love, acceptance.
So here are some new year resolutions to make you feel good.
Do you have to make a new year resolution to be a 'new you'?
That's kind of assuming there's something wrong with the old you, and there isn't - you're fabulous!
Personal development is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't mean you have to re-build yourself from scratch.
No, it means you have a curiosity to learn, an open mind and a willingness to improve.
It's like updating your computer.
It's about being the best version of you. It's not about punishing yourself for the bits you don't like, it's about acknowledging them, accepting them and working out what you want to do differently.
Take these 2 statements:
A. I'm really rubbish at baking cupcakes, they're always so dense and flat.
B. I love making cupcakes, but I can't seem to make them very light.
Can you see how in B, they are curious how they can improve, but A seems resigned to not being able to change?
When making new year resolutions, it's important to be specific about what you're hoping to achieve. For example, 'this year I'm going to take better care of myself' doesn't mean anything - how? In what way? How will I know I've achieved it?
So make it clear what you want to achieve, or how will you know if you're succeeding?
Starting a diet at this time of year is such a punishing thing to do. You're already feeling fed up, and now you want to restrict your eating too?
Although I understand the sentiment behind it, stop for a moment and think. Most people put on a couple of pounds over the silly season, it's pretty normal, and chances are you're not too happy about it.
But starting a diet now just highlights this, and means you're more likely to go down the 'feeling guilty' route. 'OMG I put on 4lbs, I feel so guilty'.
Guilty for enjoying delicious food over a feast time? That seems a bit of a waste to me.
You may be tempted to say 'I'm going to start eating healthily' but as I said above, that's too wishy washy, it means nothing.
So if you want your new year resolution to be around your eating habits, try concentrating on doing something positive, like making sure you eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.
Or starting 'Meat Free Mondays'
Or only have takeaways once a week/month
Eating mindfully i.e. really noticing your food brings around a whole new appreciation of what you eat, and has the added benefit of naturally eating less, because you feel more satisfied. So turn off the TV, eat slowly and savor the taste.
However, I don't recommend a complete ban on certain foods. 'I'm giving up chocolate' just brings me out in a cold sweat - why deny yourself something you love?
Adapt it to 'when I eat chocolate, I'm going to eat it mindfully'. This means you can eat it, but you have to give it your full attention so you'll really appreciate and enjoy it.
You'll naturally reduce the amount you eat, you won't feel like you're denying yourself something - in fact, it makes it more luxurious!
Don't diet this January, eat #mindfully and appreciate each mouthful
I hate the 'E' word!
When I think of exercise, I visualize row upon row of sweaty, red faced people in a gym, like a scene from the Matrix.
I prefer the 'A' word - activity. Being active can mean doing any number of things: Walking the dog - take it somewhere new (if you don't have one, check out Borrow My Doggy, where you can borrow one), gardening, dancing, ice skating, climbing...and they all sound like cool, fun, interesting things to do!
Here's a worksheet to use for inspiration - it's free and you don't have to sign up for anything.
You'll receive a Google Worksheet called 'Leisure Activities'.
Just press "File" then "Make a copy." You will then have your own copy to modify.
I have listed 30 activities for inspiration. Get yourself a drink and set a timer for 15 minutes.
Delete the activities you have no interest in and replace with as many leisure activities as you can think of. Don't limit yourself, just write it down.
Think of sports, activities, things done alone, things done with others, creative things, relaxing things, stimulating things.
Then, fill in the rest of the columns.
All you need to do now is choose something to start with, and if you have an activity which costs more, you can plan how to make it happen.
So if you really love going to the gym, then carry on and enjoy, but if you hate it, find an activity you enjoy and do that instead.
If you know me at all, you'll know I'm a massive advocate of journaling so mentioning it here won't surprise you!
Starting a journal has many benefits, so get started today, and if you don't know where to start I have a step by step guide for you, just CLICK HERE for more details.
Journaling can help you:
It's easy to get stale, doing the same thing day in, day out, so change things up a bit and learn something new.
If you've always fancied learning to cook Indian food, or starting a blog, or a different language, or how to sew - now's a great time to make it happen.
You can get a real feel good hit by starting to do some volunteering. It's something new for you, it helps the community and you get to connect with others.
A quick google search with bring up volunteering opportunities in your area.
No willpower? No problem, you don't need it!
If you don't make 'all or nothing' resolutions like giving something up you don't need willpower, you can use another power - Take a read of 'Why willpower doesn't work - and what does'
Related post 7 Ways to beat the post Christmas blues
So here are 5 new year resolutions that are good for you, empowering and positive.
What change do you want to make this year?
And if you need some help making changes in your life, contact me, don't struggle on alone.
Jane Travis is a qualified and experienced counsellor and clinical supervisor in the Lincoln area. She has been working at Reflections Counselling Lincoln since 2005. She also helps other counsellors and therapists market and grow their private practices at JaneTravis.co.uk.