Another year has begun and with it comes a chance to make a fresh start. A lot of people make health-related resolutions after spending the holiday season eating, drinking and being merry, but not everyone follows through on these promises. Here are a few simple strategies that can help you set — and keep — the resolutions you make to improve yourself in 2014.
Make a List. Write down every aspect of your life where you might make a change or an improvement that leads to a healthier lifestyle. Don’t worry if the list starts getting too long. Once everything is down on paper, choose three to five items that are the most attainable and re-write them in the order of how important they are to you.
Be Positive. This may seem like a small step, but you can’t think of your resolution as a sacrifice. If you want to “quit smoking” then you are testing of your willpower instead of making a positive step toward a healthier lifestyle. While you’re doing this you might notice some items on your list can be combined under a single category. For example, eating smaller portions and exercising more could both be part of a goal to lose weight.
Specify to-do’s. It’s important to spell out how you’re going to try and accomplish a goal. If you want to walk more, assign yourself a specific length of time and number of days in a week you’ll dedicate to doing so. If you want to consume less alcohol or fewer sweets, establish limits on when these items are appropriate. Write these tasks next to each goal on that same piece of paper, then post it somewhere you’ll see regularly, such as on your refrigerator door or next to your bathroom mirror.
Don’t keep it a secret. Telling others what you hope to achieve creates accountability with yourself to live up to your promises. Plus, every person you share your resolution with becomes an ally; have them help you by asking about your progress every now and again and providing words of encouragement.
Buddy up. Whatever your New Year’s resolution may be, odds are you have a friend, family member, or co-worker with a similar goal. Join forces with this individual and be each other’s cheerleader, drill sergeant, or whatever each of you needs on those days when self-motivation isn’t enough. You might also find people with similar goals by visiting community support groups.
Make it fun. Come up with ways to reward yourself as you work toward your ultimate goal. These incentives shouldn’t take the form of “cheating” on whatever you’ve resolved to accomplish, rather they should celebrate the progress you’ve made and encourage you to keep going.
Lastly, don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t making the progress you had hoped. This mindset will only cause you to backslide on your commitment, or maybe even give up completely. Re-adjust your goals to achieve something more realistic and keep going; just because it’s not New Year’s Day doesn’t mean you can’t make a new resolution!
Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and other area organizations offer workshops, seminars and support groups year-round in a number of areas that can help you become happier and healthier in 2014. Many of the program are free of charge. A printed version of the Winter 2014 Wellness Calendar will be distributed with the Brattleboro Reformer the week of January 13. Copies will also be available in the BMH Main Lobby, Brattleboro Retreat, Grace Cottage and Brooks Memorial Library. A full list of events and classes is also available online at bmhvt.org. Call 257-8877 to register or get more information.