‘New Year, New You’ is a common refrain we often hear at the end of the festive season and into January.
It chimes with the idea of New Year’s resolutions – often to get fit, lose weight or otherwise reverse the excesses of Christmas – as well as the increasingly popular ‘Dry January’ challenge to go a month without alcohol.
More than half of us said we would make resolutions going into 2022, but the evidence suggests that of those of us who do, only 1 in 4 can stick to them.
So why do most resolutions fail, and what can we do to help ourselves make lasting change?
There are many common reasons why people’s new year’s resolutions ‘fail’, or at least don’t succeed in the way they imagine. Here are some suggestions for giving yourself the best chance of success.
Setting yourself for success
Firstly, define what your aim is. If it’s to lose weight, put a number and a time on it, but make sure it’s realistic. Without a target, it’s hard to measure your progress, and an unrealistic target sets you up for failure.
Make a plan. Set out what you are trying to do, how and when. This could be planning out your food for each week or writing regular exercise slots on your calendar.
Use a mixture of short- and long-term goals so you can see your progress, and the end target doesn’t seem so far away. Setting yourself smaller, achievable goals and rewarding yourself in some way as you achieve them can be beneficial in working toward longer-term aims.
Don’t try to do it alone. We are all influenced by people around us, and having support is vital. Whether encouraging each other to reach targets or picking each other up if you are struggling, your chances are better when working together.
Make use of resources that already exist. The NHS Better Health website has many resources, guides and programmes covering weight loss, quitting smoking, getting active and drinking less, amongst others.
Be kind to yourself
It’s essential to not put too much pressure on yourself too. If, for whatever reason, a plan doesn’t work, you can reassess and try again at a different time.
Take Dry January as an example. It’s held in that particular month as it fits nicely with new year’s resolutions and follows on from the indulgence of Christmas. But it need not be January at all.
What is important is the month-long break you give your body from alcohol. It doesn’t matter if that break starts on 1st January or any other day throughout the year.
Your liver can begin to heal itself from the damage alcohol does in that time. Most people save money and say they sleep better as well.
Tools to help you
Amongst the resources you can find on the NHS Better Health are a series of smartphone apps. They are all free to download to your iPhone or Android device.
Couch to 5K is a beginner’s guide to running. The programme starts gently with regular workouts that gradually increase, with the aim of being able to complete a 5-kilometre run within 9 weeks.
A new and different tool, the NHS Food Scanner app makes it easier to eat healthily. When you scan the barcodes of items you regularly eat and drink, the app will offer a healthier alternative to add to your shopping list.
Discover the whole range of support available on the NHS Better Health website.