Six Successful Remedies for the Common Resolution
How many times have you started the New Year with promises to yourself to improve your fitness, nutrition or quality of life, only to revert back to your old ways by March? In spite of our best intentions, many of us are unable to maintain our resolutions for the entire year. The good news is that people who are willing to strategically approach healthy habits are more likely to make them a part of their life for the long-term. Here are six big resolution remedies:
1. Display your vision for why you want to change. Write and post it in noticeable spots (e.g., at your desk, bathroom mirror, fridge). Example: "I'd really like to have more energy to play basketball again,” “I want to reduce my blood pressure to see my 80th birthday,” or “I want to take a vacation annually with my family.”
2. Figure out what fuels your old habits and find alternatives. Example: To cope with feeling overwhelmed or lonely, many of us may gravitate toward “comfort foods,” or foods high in sugar, carbohydrates, salt or saturated fats. Practice self-care in other ways, such as relaxation skills or reaching out to others. Then, consider healthy food substitutions (i.e., fruit instead of cookies and raw vegetables, such as carrots or bell peppers, instead of chips.)
3. Make plan with simple, small and specific action steps and share your plan with others (friends, family and/or co-workers). Example: If, after a bad day, you tend to spend your evenings rehashing the day’s events, instead find ways to reframe your day, such as writing "I will spend 10 minutes tonight reflecting on one thing for which I am grateful” or “I will practice deep breathing.” Review and update goals regularly using scheduled reminders on your calendar.
4. Track your progress. New habits take several days of practice per week for several consecutive weeks before “sticking.” Check off successes on your calendar and share with others. Remember, slips happen. Learn to recover and forgive imperfection.
5. Create your own personal reward system! Celebrate your progress by linking rewards to goal achievement and benefits. Example: You are trying to cut back spending on things, such as entertainment, impulse shopping or eating out to save money yet still have some fun. If so, your reward system could be "For every $100 I save on _, I will treat myself to (a movie, pedicure).”
6. There is power in people. Connect with those who will support your goals or have common goals. We all get discouraged and impatient at times, but we also have wisdom we can contribute. By connecting with others through coaching, buddy systems or support groups, we can learn and support one another.
For more resolution resources, contact 404-727-4328 or visit FSAP at http://www.fsap.emory.edu/ or Healthy Emory at http://www.hr.emory.edu/eu/wellness/brochure/brochure.html.
Gardner, Lally & Wardle. (2012). Making health habitual: The psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice. Br J Gen Pract. 2012 Dec; 62(605): 664–666. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3505409/.
Moore, Monique, Ph.D., and Nilsen, Wendy, Ph.D. National Institutes of Health Behavioral and Social Sciences Research: 6 Empirically-supported Tips For Forming Positive Habits, http://www.dcoe.mil/libraries/documents/6_empirically supported_tips_for_forming_positive_habits.pdf.
Statistic Brain (website). New Year’s Resolution Statistics. http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/.