How to keep the promises you make to yourself in 2021
So, welcome to the new year, which at the moment looks very much like the old year.
It’s my dearest hope that you managed to avoid the virus and had a healthy and happy – if a little different – festive and New Year celebration that gave you time to disconnect from the stresses of normal life and relax.
Some things, of course, never change and with every new year comes the sense of wiping the slate clean on the previous 12 months and starting anew, with fresh goals, fresh resolve and fresh thinking.
It’s probably also true to say that for many of us, that strength of resolve has a nasty habit of weakening as we plunge into the heart of winter and look for ways to find comfort – often by finding solace in the very things we’ve promised ourselves we’ll change.
The fiery commitment to lose weight might evaporate in the face of a cold night and some comfort food, and the plunging temperatures of February may make that goal of completing a 10K charity run in the spring a little less attractive than it appeared in the glow of New Year’s Eve.
In fact, over the years we’ve probably all been guilty of trying to renegotiate the promises we’ve made to ourselves at various times.
There’s no shame in that – fallibility is part of the human condition, after all – but ‘quitting’ on ourselves can breed frustration and self-disappointment and I bet all of us have at some point reached the summer and thought, I wish I’d stuck to that.
The question is, how do we give ourselves the best chance of succeeding with our resolutions?
I think the answer is to be realistic about what it is you’re trying to achieve. Remember that often success comes from making a number of small changes in lifestyle rather than hitching your wagon to one monumental change that will be much harder to maintain.
Any change for the better is a good change, so rather than taking an ‘all or nothing’ approach to 2021, why not renegotiate the contract you’ve agreed with yourself in a positive way.
If your goal is to lose weight, you may find it’s harder to stick to your promise if you’re going from consuming 2,000 calories a day to existing on a diet of lettuce and cucumber (which, by the way, is equally unhealthy).
A smaller change, but one that might deliver rich rewards in the long term, might be to commit to reducing your calorie intake in stages. Or maybe you commit to eating two healthy meals a week and increasing that ratio over a period of time. Or you decide to reduce portion size (and therefore calorie intake) by a fixed amount.
Changing your lifestyle is really about replacing bad habits with better ones.
My own view is that the best contracts we can agree with ourselves is to commit to being kinder about our overall health and making a number of small commitments that will be easier to absorb into our daily lives.*
There’s no point in promising yourself you’re going to run for an hour every day if you know you won’t have time to do it. All that will happen is you’ll end up taking no exercise at all. If you go on a fad diet that focuses on deprivation, you’ll end up resenting it.
It’s better, I think, to commit to 15 minutes of exercise a day, to reducing your intake of unhealthy foods with a view to eliminating them more or less completely in stages, to invest a relatively small amount of money in protecting and improving your health.
Obviously, one way of making a difference to your general health is to invest in regular emotional and physical therapy, such as acupuncture or one or more of the other complementary health programmes.
Acupuncture is a great way of keeping your mind and body fit because as an holistic therapy it treats every part of you, addressing the things you can feel – stress, aches and pains, colds, hay fever, anxiety, for example – as well as the ones you can’t.
In the context of our New Year resolutions, acupuncture can strengthen our resolve, helping us to maintain the commitments we might have made to our own self-improvement or to looking after ourselves better.
Many people are selfless when it comes to life – putting the wellbeing of others ahead of their own. But it’s really important in life that we take time to invest in our own welfare, too.
The pandemic and the restrictions on day-to-day life that it has triggered may make it harder to keep our own promises, but here at The Acupuncturists we’ve never been more committed to supporting people in looking after their own health.
Last year proved that whilst we may not always be able to see our patients face to face, we can still be there for you.
Our video tutorials around acupressure, which you can find here, can help to give relief from a number of symptoms and we’re always happy to talk to you about strategies you can use at home to look after yourself.
If you’d like to know more about gifting acupuncture treatments with us or you’d like to find out more about acupuncture and its benefits, please contact us – we’d love to hear from you.
*Of course, the opinions and advice offered in this article do not supersede any advice on lifestyle management given to you by your doctor or other clinical health practitioner.