2023 is fast approaching and millions of people worldwide are ready to commit with exceptional willpower to New Year’s resolutions, an “occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and be better in the future” as described in ancient times.
According to the most recent YouGov survey, the top five annual promises will be (once again) converged into healthy habits, namely: more exercise, better diet, reduced alcohol consumption and quit smoking. Other than that, the focus is on economical welfare – obviously.
Health is clearly a top priority for everyone. Physical inactivity, tobacco use and poor nutrition, are increasingly becoming part of today’s lifestyle leading to the rapid rise of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, depression and anxiety. According to the WHO, 60 to 85% of people in the world lead a sedentary routine so we should all be ready to move for health and to adopt healthy and active lifestyles.
Hopes and dreams for self-improvement start out with the best intentions but still, eight people out of ten New Year’s resolutions fail within the first month and nearly all of resolutions do not make it past January. Why?
Three main reasons: your resolutions are unclear and with no ultimate goal, there is no realistic plan to achieve your objectives, and you do not really like someone else telling you to change. Studies have shown that, despite good intentions, the New Year starts on a quick negative note when the resolutions suddenly fail.
If you are serious about making a meaningful change in your personal life, it might be helpful to create the proper conditions for success and get the most of the New Year’s “fresh start effect”, which has been now scientifically documented.
The Department of Health UK highlights how important it is to eat well, drink within the recommended levels and quit smoking. Interestingly, good (and bad) habits occur together. For example: people who regularly ate fried food are more likely to add additional salt. However, non-smokers are less likely to eat certain fat foods and who quit smoking are likely to eat more fruit and veg. Healthy resolutions might get you double benefits!
Let’s draw a plan for success:
1. Set specific goals and put them in writing
Research suggests that if it is something you really want for yourself, if it is meaningful to you, you are more likely to commit to it. For instance, losing 15 Kilos in one go may seem impossible. Instead, try setting smaller goals of losing 3 Kilos a month for 5 months. Think baby steps rather than giant leaps.
2. Develop an action plan
Detailed planning might help you anticipate possible obstacles and creating daily reminders or a calendar could be of use. You might decide to walk a half hour each day to burn calories. You might stop using the car for going from A to B. Or you might limit the calories giving up on an extra snack.
3. Share it and set a supportive environment
Share your goals on social media and ask your family, friends or colleagues to help you hold accountable. Hang around with people who are committed to your same goals and report your progress each day. Try to link with someone who have made it to the finish line and try those tactics yourself.
Two-thirds of smokers say they want to quit, however, most try to do so unaided, which is the least effective method. Interestingly, smokers who get the right support are 7 times as likely to quit successfully.
4. Go for it!
Healthy changes start with little changes. Whether you want to lose weight, get active or quit smoking, NHS Better Health is a website with lots of free tools and support.
- For more information please contact the Public Health Office at firstname.lastname@example.org
- For more information about how to quit smoking visit the Smokefree website or speak to your GP.
- For healthy eating tips and information visit the website: www.nhs.uk/better-health