Forget ‘New Year, New You’ slogans if you want to improve your health and outlook on life

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Columnist EMMA YOUNG gives her view on how small changes, rather than quick fixes can help to improve our wellbeing and outlook...

In My View columnist Emma Young. Picture: Courtesy of Emma Young

In My View columnist Emma Young. Picture: Courtesy of Emma Young - Credit: Emma Young

New Year, New You?!

How many times do we see this slogan in January? And more often than not it is accompanied with advice on diet regimes, exercise programmes and basically the promise of a complete life transformation. We have all been found guilty of being sucked in by the power of good advertising. But lifestyle changes are never as easy as we think or led to believe.

But in order to achieve better wellbeing do we need to start at the beginning and address the root cause of our dissatisfaction? Be it weight loss/gain, mental health, anxiety or self confidence to name a few. Weight loss for example can be achieved easily enough by reducing your calorie intake but if you are a 'comfort eater' it is almost impossible to sustain a healthy diet because the human psyche will always resort to type. We are creatures of habit after all and resistant to change!

Apparently to alter our 'automatic pilot' mode we need to repeat an action 300 times in order to undo a habit. You literally have to retrain your brain! But the trouble is we live in a world where we want everything right now, a quick fix, we demand next day delivery and expect to be able to buy milk at three in the morning. And for the most part of our lives this is achievable, but our mind and body are still very much out of our control to a certain extent. We don't have the chance to choose when to be ill, and we can't predict how long we will take to heal. Mother Nature does still run that show and there are no signs of her retiring anytime soon!

So what can we do to help our wellbeing? How do we achieve the impossible?

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Why not try making small changes to your everyday routine, however simple they may be. Have one biscuit with your coffee and not two, make time to walk to the shop, take five to say Hello to people when you are out and about, phone an old friend you haven't spoken to recently and catch up. Give the house a spring clean and take unwanted clutter to the charity shop. Reward yourself with a treat every week, perhaps a trip to the cinema, lunch out or pamper yourself with a pedicure.

Put yourself first when you can, don't play the martyr and instead ask somebody else to unpack the dishwasher. Anger at any level is stressful. But most importantly take at least 20 minutes every day to be 'you' to have time to process your thoughts, worries or concerns. It is like pressing the 'refresh' button on your computer and you will be amazed how beneficial it is to your mental wellbeing as it allows you time to think ahead and give you time out to appreciate the good things that have happened in your day and prepare for any event you are unsure about.

It may feel at first 'pointless' and 'dispiriting' when you don't see any immediate change but in time you will be rewarded with a much stronger, healthier you. A 'happier' you won't grab the biscuit tin when upset but as a result weight will be shed naturally with no more need for endless yo yo dieting and the chronic highs and lows that brings. A 'happier you' makes a more confident you which will show in your face and body language when in social situations, self fuelling a serotonin boost which is a natural chemical in your brain which promotes the feel good factor.

Make a list if it helps you remember what you want to change and perhaps keep a diary and so you can see your progress in six months. It may take till New Year next year but you will be a 'New You'.

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