New year is a time of excitement for many as we embrace the new year coming in, letting go of the old year and whatever that encompassed. Let’s face it 2021 was a difficult year for most unless you happen to be a food supplier, PPE or vaccine manufacturer, or delivery company, and even they had their fair share of issues.
Did you set some New Year resolutions, as you did last year and the year before that? Do you usually fulfil your resolutions, or are you like many full of vim and vigour in the first month, perhaps two months and then with life’s pressure it all falls apart, leaving you feeling demotivated, annoyed or even angry at yourself and perhaps even despondent as the resolution that you have just given up on has been the same for the last 2 or 3 years?
What is the Origin of New Year Resolutions?
In 2000 B.C., the Babylonians celebrated the New Year during a 12-day festival called Akitu. This was the start of the farming season with the planting of crops, the time to crown their king, and make promises to pay their debts. One common resolution was the returning of borrowed farm equipment to its rightful owner.
Later the ancient Romans adopted the Babylonian New Year together with the tradition of resolutions. Eventually, in 46 B.C. the timing shifted with the Julian calendar, which declared January 1st as the start of the new year.
January was named after the two-faced Roman god, Janus as he looks forward for new beginnings while also looking backward for reflection and resolution. The Romans traditionally offered sacrifices to Janus and made promises of good behaviour for the year ahead.
Medieval knights in the Middle Ages also made New Year resolutions by placing their hands on a peacock to renew their vows to chivalry. The annual “Peacock Vow” would take place at the end of the year, as a resolution to maintain their knightly values.
By the 17th century, New Year’s resolutions were common and continue to the present day with a difference in the type of resolutions that we make. Resolutions in the early 1900s were more religious or spiritual in nature and often restraining in some way. For example, to develop a stronger work ethic, place more restraint on earthly pleasures and so on. Whereas now, resolutions have moved away from denying physical indulgences to actions around self-improvement, such as losing weight, exercising more, quitting smoking, cutting down on meat and so on.
If wanting to improve your health in 2022 think about setting resolutions around:
- Regular exercise and movement – choosing the type of exercise/movement that excites you; dance, walking, swimming, Zumba, Pilates, tennis etc. If it excites you, you are more likely to succeed in fulfilling your resolution.
- Increasing fresh vegetables and fruit in your daily meal regime to improve your digestive and overall health.
- Introducing hot and cold showers to stimulate the immune system, energise and invigorate and if you are feeling really brave, cold-water swimming.
- Introducing dry skin brushing into your daily bath/shower regime to help the body detox more effectively.
- Drinking water or herbal tea in place of caffeine-based drinks.
- Being kind and compassionate with yourself and learning from your mistakes, rather than beating yourself up about them.
- Expressing gratitude every day through journaling, verbalising your gratitude and giving positive feedback to yourself and others.
There are many other areas that could be included here, but these provide a good variety of things to think about and consider for resolutions to address overall health.
Why is it that so many of us give up on our resolutions very early on? Below are some tips to helping you be successful in fulfilling your resolutions.
5 Tips to Make New Year Resolutions Successful
1. Word your resolution positively as opposed to negatively. For example, instead of “I want to stop eating sugary foods” to “I want to eat fresh, non-processed foods in at least one meal a day.” To support this approach you might share photos of what you are eating on your Facebook or Instagram page. By allowing yourself some sugary foods, but introducing fresh foods daily, you are more likely to remain positive, feel good about yourself and achieve your goal. If you want, over time, you can always increase the amount of fresh foods to include into two meals a day.
2. Keep it simple. Avoid being over ambitious as when doing this you are setting yourself up to fail. Stick to one or two goals and do something every day however small, that brings you closer to achieving your goals.
3. Make sure your goals are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Stating I want to do something interesting this year, is too vague. Decide beforehand what areas of interest you have and include these into your goal. For example, “I am going to create ME time through either enrolling in dance classes or classes where I can learn to paint, attending at least 90% of the scheduled classes.”
4. Share your goals with others. By sharing with others you are enrolling the interest of those close to you and through their support it will encourage you to keep going. Keep track of your progress in a notebook or journal, detailing how you feel and what you have achieved, however small.
5. If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up. Do reflect on your plan if slip-ups become a regular occurrence. Perhaps it is too ambitious? If you planned to walk 5 kilometres a day for 5 days a week, scale it back to 3 days and plan which days you’ll walk to get into a routine. Create a routine around when you walk, for example walking first thing in the morning or getting off the bus one or two stops early and walking the rest of the way. Walk before you eat lunch or as the first thing when you return home. Once in a routine it is something you will begin to look forward to, making it a habit.
All in all, consider whether it is more likely that you will fulfil your resolutions if you consider them as ongoing self-improvement and self-development, irrelevant of the time of year. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge any glitches, understanding why it happened and then get right back to your plan.
Happy New Year Everyone.