Happy New Year! A New Year helps us all to start a fresh and make those classic New Year’s resolutions. The big question is how long do you truly stick to your good intentions in 2018?
How to change your habits by changing your mind
A fresh New Year is a perfect opportunity for positive change in our lives, often with a focus on health. How many of us stick to our resolutions beyond the first day – week – month (if we’re doing well!)? A popular cited statistic is 8%.
So how do we stick to our healthier habits and make lasting change?
I’ve used the example of water to give my top 3 Peachy tips on true, lasting change. I believe the same tips can be applied to most New Year’s resolutions.
Step 1. Truly understand WHY
You need to inform yourself of the reasons to change something, adopt a new habit or give up an old one. Arm your mind with knowledge through research – there’s so much information out there now. If you don’t truly find the value in your change, you won’t stick to it.
Here it is – the classic. If you asked anyone “is water good for you?” or “should you drink more water and less caffeine or sugary drinks?”, most people would answer “yes” and yet studies have shown that many people only have one glass a day, if any at all.
Your body is about 60% water and that water needs to be replenished in order to fuel pretty much every function in the body. About 8 glasses a day is the general recommended amount to meet your body’s needs. In the Western world we are so fortunate to have access to clean water and this most magical medicine costs next to nothing.
So how do you drink more? The answer isn’t as simple as ‘just drink more’.
First you need to ponder and acknowledge the why…and with water the list is endless. Here are a handful of reasons to drink more water:
- Prevent and fix a headache – dehydration can result in headaches as the brain pulls away from the skull due to lack of fluid. Mend dehydration headaches and prevent them with water
- Keep your pearls twinkling – water reduces cavity and tooth decay as it contributes to the production of saliva, essential for teeth and gum health
- Lose weight – water helps fat removal by boosting your metabolism and carrying away waste material. It is also an appetite suppressant and drinking enough water reduces water retention as your body no longer needs to hold on to what little water reserves it has
- Enjoy glowing skin – water keeps skin clear by removing toxins and making it appear nice and plump through hydration
- Stay well – water is your immune system’s best friend. It aids toxin removal and contributes to lymph and white blood cell function
- Improve digestion – water helps the body to break down food and absorb nutrients
Step 2. Get your MIND on board
Setting your intentions, motivations and expectations are essential
Ask yourself honestly “What are the reasons why I don’t already do what I know I should/want to do?” and respond with your own logic and new knowledge.
In the example of water, maybe you drink lots of tea and coffee so you think that’s enough liquid. Caffeinated drinks are diuretics, so they cause removal of fluids from the body (in other words they make you urinate more). Although you add water to your cup of tea, it can contribute to dehydration, jeopardising the good effects of what water you have had. You might feel that you have no ill effects from not drinking enough water – but that joint pain, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions may be more closely linked to dehydration than you think.
Decide on your motivations by asking yourself “how will I benefit from (your new habit)?”
It may be you are worried about your health and want to make sure you’re on tip top form to enjoy life with your loved ones, or perform better at work. Think about your motivations and really visualise the positive outcome. Mine as a teen was to fight bad skin, so I visualised clear healthy skin every time I drank a glass of water. This was a powerful motivation to remember to drink more and my skin soon cleared up (alongside good nutrition).
Don’t give up just because you don’t see an immediate effect or you ‘fail’
The positive effects of a new habit may be un-seen or take a while to be recognised. For example, when it comes to drinking water you may not immediately lose weight but other contributing factors will play a part – maybe time to cut down on the alcohol and improve your nutrition too?
Plan for setbacks and how you will respond to failing every now and again. A couple of days of only 2 glasses instead of 8 isn’t an excuse to give up because you haven’t been a perfect New Year’s resolution warrior. Don’t be hard on yourself. Change gets easier when it becomes a natural habit and you’ll find yourself wanting more of a good thing, be it water or vegetables.
Step 3. Set yourself up to SUCCEED
Look at the practical aspects of going to the gym more, planning and preparing healthy food or drinking more water.
Health psychology research repeatably shows the pressures of a busy schedule are a perceived barrier to lasting change. We need to make time for change and not see this as a huge feat. When would you practically have time to fit in a new habit? Start by thinking about how much time you need and when. Think about things in your schedule you could swap – it’s worth it for your health! Decide how you can make it easier for yourself to succeed.
Water seems like the easiest one to put into action, who doesn’t have time for a glass of water? Yet how often are we rushing around too busy to stop and grab a bottle of water or get a glass from the kitchen? Sounds daft written down on paper, how long does it really take and once you’ve got to this stage of pondering, surely you know it’s worth it. It’s because it often comes down to prioritisation rather than time. Habit, rather than decision.
I start the day with a glass of water. For office days I take a 1 litre jug of water to my desk with a glass so I can just top up as I work. When I’m on the move I carry a 800ml re-fillable bottle with me to make sure I stay hydrated. Filling it up in the morning and afternoon has become a habit. Before I know it, I’ve sipped my way through 2 litres. Try adding lemon, lime or cucumber and strawberries if you feel like your taste-buds need to be persuaded to get on board.
Wishing you a very happy, healthy and joyful 2018 – make it a year to invest in your wellbeing.