Here we are in February and so you’re likely wondering why I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions. That’s because by February most of us have given up on the New Year’s resolutions we made with such gusto in January. Consequently, the New Year New Me is no more. So here’s a chance to breathe new life into them. How? Paradoxically, by making them smaller.
You see, the reason we often fall short and give up is because our resolutions ask way too much of us. We set our bar too high. After all, if you’ve been a couch potato since the pandemic began, resolving to run 5K every day may doom you through overambition.
Instead, start smaller. Maybe commit to walking around the block each morning. This will make it easier to build a morning exercise habit because it isn’t asking too much of your time or effort. According to Dr. Brendon Stubbs, a physiotherapist and senior clinical lecturer at the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, “if we start with smaller, more realistic changes in health habits we are much more likely to sustain them.”
So in this edition of Dishing It Up I offer four suggestions. These are smaller things you can do and/or changes in perspective that may bring you closer to your intended New Year’s resolutions for 2022. A Feb Four, if you will.
The first is to select a word that, like a mantra, guides your year. I chose equanimity. Oxford dictionary defines it as “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.” I also like the Buddhist interpretation: “Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality’s transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love.” It resonates with me in the midst of this pandemic where things aren’t quite as I’d like them to be and there isn’t a whole lot I can do about it.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Perhaps they will inspire your own ideas. It’s worth it to recalibrate your ambitions for 2022 rather than abandon them. When it comes to behaviour change, it’s the least you can do. Because starting with the least will ultimately yield the most.
Dishing It Up on New Year’s Resolutions
- 22 motivational words to propel you into 2022
- Balance your body budget
- Get outside in the morning light for 2 to 10 minutes
- Make simple food swaps
Read on for a bite-sized summary and links for each suggestion …
22 motivational words to propel you into 2022
“Words have the power to move, change, and inspire and that’s why choosing a word to use as a theme or intention for the new year is such a great idea….make choices, set goals, and live each day committed to a solid mantra”.
Choose your word …
Balance your body budget
Have you ever been in “a mood” and you have no idea why? Well, this may help explain it. “Your brain’s most important job isn’t thinking; it’s running the systems of your body to keep you alive and well….even when your brain does produce conscious thoughts and feelings, they are more in service to the needs of managing your body than you realize.” “Your brain runs your body using something like a budget….[it] tracks resources like water, salt and glucose as you gain and lose them. Each action that spends resources, such as standing up, running, and learning, is like a withdrawal from your account. Actions that replenish your resources, such as eating and sleeping, are like deposits.”
“If you feel weary from the pandemic and you’re battling a lack of motivation, consider your situation from a body-budgeting perspective….When an unpleasant thought pops into your head, like ‘I can’t take this craziness anymore’, ask yourself body-budgeting questions. ‘Did I get enough sleep last night? Am I dehydrated? Should I take a walk? Call a friend? Because I could use a deposit or two in my body budget.’”
Read more from psychologist and neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett …
Get outside in the morning light for 2 to 10 minutes
This 8-minute video with neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman is well worth a watch. He describes the mechanisms by which one small habit, getting 2 to 10 minutes of morning light outside, can reap huge rewards. It promotes wakefulness and focus throughout the day, boosts your mood and vastly improves sleep. And a good night’s sleep is a significant credit to your body budget! It’s as simple as enjoying your morning cup of tea/coffee outside on your porch, deck or balcony (just bundle up first, if you are in the arctic-zone). Or take that walk around the block every morning and you’ve killed two birds with one stone. And until you get in the swing of things, set a reminder to mind your Zeitgebers and get outside.
Take a look …
Make simple food swaps
Eating a hot dog could cost you 36 minutes of healthy life, while choosing to eat a serving of nuts instead could help you gain 26 minutes of extra healthy life, according to a University of Michigan study. So one simple food swap will net you more than an hour each time! If you’re putting on a Super Bowl spread next weekend, try swapping chicken wings for these Buffalo Cauliflower Wings. What are some of your favourite food swaps? I invite you to share them with others in the comments. I’ve added a simple one to the comments that can make a big difference to your health.
Read more …
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Here’s a simple food swap: rather than drinking orange juice in the morning, swap it for an orange. This small swap will help reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.