Date: January 18, 2021, 12:05 pm
Three bite-sized resolutions that are actually worth keeping
It is a truth universally acknowledged that 99% of new year’s resolutions don’t stick.
That gyms, full to bursting on January 2nd are ghost towns by mid-February. That dieters, enthusiastically adhering to raw-food resolutions often run out of steam after a few weeks of good behaviour. And that, generally speaking, those lofty aspirations we settled on in the last champagne-fuelled weeks of December are looking a whole lot less fun on the other side of the new year.
If this sounds familiar, don’t beat yourself up. Failure to stick to New Year’s resolutions is so well-established and reliable that the second Friday in January has become known as Quitters Day – the day that the vast majority of people tend to lose motivation, cave to their desires and abandon resolutions made only a few weeks before. This year that day falls on January 8th, which has already passed, so if your motivation is already waning don’t worry – you’re not alone!
The problem isn’t that our aspirations are bad. Wanting to eat healthily, get organised, save money, exercise more or advance our careers are all great, sensible goals. But they’re also massive, monolithic, hard to define, hard to measure and so, naturally, hard to keep.
After a year that was, let’s say, more difficult than most, it’s not surprising that the idea of setting big resolutions for 2021 feels kind of exhausting. If the thought of ‘kicking yourself into gear’ and ‘finally getting your act together’ fills you with a nervous sense of dread, and if, one week into 2021 you’re already feeling like your grandest aspirations are about to fall through, it might be time to ditch the big resolutions, pour yourself a nice cup tea and resolve to spend the rest of 2021 going a little easier on yourself. Here’s how we intend to do just that:
- Prioritise sleep
If you do only one thing this year, we recommend prioritising your sleep. The research is well and truly in on this one – sleeping at least 8 hours a day leads to: improved concentration, lower reactivity, fewer emotional outbursts, increased happiness and greater creativity. It lowers food cravings, decreases your risk of catching colds and the flu (which feels especially important these days!). It also reduces anxiety and depression, and lowers your risk of stroke, heart attacks and diabetes. If you don’t believe us, add Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker to your reading list. Not only is sleep relaxing, restorative and just plain comfortable, it is something that the vast majority of society do not do enough. You can help improve the quality and length of your sleep by avoiding screens and brightly lit rooms for at least an hour before bed, avoiding caffeinated drinks in the afternoon, and avoiding alcoholic drinks before bed, taking a hot bath before bed and going to sleep in a cool bedroom, free from bright lights and technological devices.
- Spend five minutes in nature each day
In her book The Well Gardened Mind (another great one to add to the reading list!) Sue Stuart-Smith outlines just how valuable time in nature is for our bodies and our minds. Much like a good night’s sleep, spending time in nature can help lift our moods, energize our minds and improve our concentration. Many of us have hectic schedules and largely sedentary jobs, but even five minutes spent outside the office and in nature can have a wonderful effect on our mental well-being. This year why not ditch the diet fads and gym junkie resolutions and simply aim to spend five minutes each day quietly in nature.
- Do one kind thing for yourself each day
The thing that our bite-sized resolutions have in common is that they are not punitive, high pressure, or borne out of self-criticism and shame. Most new year’s resolutions are made for the wrong reasons. We don’t like our bodies, so we resolve to go on a diet or work out every single day. We beat ourselves up for not having enough money, so we resolve to scrimp and save. We feel ashamed that our houses are a mess, so we embark on a hard-core cleaning challenge. These sorts of resolutions are all based on the assumption that the person we are on January 1st is not ‘good enough’ and must be changed. When making new year’s resolutions we often aren’t very kind to ourselves at all. This year why not flip the script and make a simple resolution: to be kind to yourself each day. Maybe you buy yourself a bouquet of flowers or your favourite bread from the bakery down the road. You might resolve to give yourself a compliment each time you look in the mirror, or to go easy on yourself if you have an unproductive day. Being kinder to yourself might take the form of limiting time spent on social media, allowing yourself an afternoon nap, taking vitamins and supplements before bed or giving yourself a relaxing hand massage (you might like to give our Deep Soothe Thermal Balm a try - it feels wonderful on tired or sore muscles). The important thing is to show yourself some care and compassion. To look after yourself without feeling guilty or over-indulgent.
And there you have it. Three small recommendations from us to you, for a year that is restful, peaceful and kind – things we are all certainly deserving of, now more than ever. We hope you find these suggestions useful, and that your 2021 is off to a happy and healthy start.
Wishing you all the best,
Scot and Emily
Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker: https://www.booktopia.com.au/why-we-sleep-matthew-walker/book/9780141983769.html
The Well Gardened Mind by Sue Stuart-Smith: https://www.booktopia.com.au/the-well-gardened-mind-sue-stuart-smith/book/9781476794464.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIiePb3e2L7gIVjq-WCh3Aqg5mEAAYAiAAEgLXNPD_BwE