Five resolutions you should try to keep
There are always loads of suggestions bandied around at the start of a new year - ways to improve your lifestyle, kick that bad habit, make yourself a better person... it can all get a bit much. Here are five of our suggestions that we think are manageable and achievable. Nothing groundbreaking, but you might find you feel a lot better. Start small, think about big later.
1. Throw traditional dieting in the bin
After all those Yorkshire puddings and flaming Christmas puddings consumed over the festive period it can be quite a shock to your system to get back on track in the New Year. We've all sat by and watched, slightly baffled, as every January someone we know exclaims they're giving up sugar for life. They float on an intense wave of quinoa happiness on day two, but by day five they are crying in to a biscuit barrel. We're all individual people with our own set of microbes - the bacteria that sit in our gut and respond differently to all types of foods. Your body isn't going to thank you for any sudden, sweeping changes, so now is not the time for a mega diet. In fact, it may be best to throw what we used to know as 'dieting' in the bin. More and more research on microbes is showing how treating your gut bacteria well (and that includes feeding them cake and cheese) will make YOU well. Get to know your gut and which foods make the vast array of microbes within it happiest.
2. Quit it
It's a good time to give up something that you feel you're too dependent on. Maybe you check your phone all the time, clicking a button when it hasn't made any noise just to see if somebody has messaged you? It might be time to spend dedicated time away from technology every day, spend more of your day out in the open or reading a book instead. If you want to quit a habit like smoking or alcohol, the start of a new year feels like a new slate and a chance to do things differently, head in a new direction. It's reassuring to know that you're not alone - other people are giving things up too. It might be easier to give up going out when you discover most of your friends are also staying in and bingewatching boxsets to get out of Christmas debt.
3. Be less sedentary
We're not talking about enrolling in a military-style boot camp on 7am, January 1st. Just sit down less. How about getting off the bus or getting out of the car a little further away from your destination to get some more walking in? Take up swing dancing, tai-chi, gardening or dog walking. Give the sofa a rest and do a few star jumps in between each programme. Find something that works for you and build your day around it. Your body loves to move.
4. More sleep. More rest
Give yourself a break. Stop and look at yourself. Do you have bags under your eyes? Have you yawned recently? Studies have shown you need at least seven hours sleep a night to help your brain function and body stay healthy. A more active lifestyle will help you get a better night's rest. Have you tried not looking at any screens for an hour before bedtime? Brushing your teeth in a low-level lighting environment rather than that bright halogen bathroom lighting? Try not to drink anything an hour before bedtime so you're not waking at 3am needing the toilet. There are various tips and tricks to ease yourself into a bedtime routine that might boost the quality of sleep you get.
5. Change is good
How about a new mindset for a new year? Is too much negative news damaging your mental well-being? Maybe it's time to make sure you're not too immersed in negative news and that you spend more time concentrating on the positive things. Boredom is actually important - research suggests an uncluttered schedule might be a good thing. Next time your day is disrupted - for example, a delayed train - turn it in to a positive change. Nobody likes uncertainty, but we can manage the way we react to make our experiences much better. Hygge will continue to be an important concept. Don't be too hard on yourself, most importantly. And make some time to daydream every day.