“New Year, New Me”. You adopt a mocking tone when you say it, because deep down, you know the resolutions made now will be forgotten by February. And yet, you still put yourself through it. You still insist that you will go to the gym every day, you will eat ‘healthily’, that you will lose x amount of weight (because that TOTALLY amounts to a ‘new you’). Then, when the inevitable happens – when you get fed up of/too busy for the gym, when the sugar deprivation leads you to quickly scoff the whole pack of biscuits your flatmate left out on the kitchen table, you regain any weight you may have lost – you feel like a failure. You beat yourself up for ‘lacking discipline’ and wait until next January to repeat the cycle.
Ask yourself this: do you really want to go through all of that? Again?
You don’t have to. It doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to be truly healthier this year. But – spoiler alert – no guilt, shame, punishment, or denial needs to be a part of it. Yes, really! Even more, it doesn’t all have to be about food, exercise, or your body!
Here are a few suggestions for small actions you can take towards genuinely better health in 2017:
- Check out the Instagram campaign #selflovebootcamp. This challenge is going on throughout January, although there is no obligation to post daily. The idea behind it is that instead of starting this year fighting your body, you start it fighting body hate. Even if you don’t want to participate, following actively body positive and body diverse accounts will make social media a happier and more inspiring place for you.
- Attend a Mindfulness Café session. Held on Mondays between 2.30 and 4.30pm, in LUU Room 2, this is a chance to let go of all the things on your mind, and relax – particularly helpful at the start of a busy week! There are plenty of options for what you can do whilst you’re there – from colouring to origami to Playdoh to Lego building – each activity fun but requiring your focus. You practice mindfulness and experience its benefits, but you don’t have to sit still, with your eyes closed, being told to ‘feel the weight of your body in your chair’ (which, let’s be honest, simply isn’t for everyone).
- Commit to spending time and connecting with people you care about. You don’t have to go out and spend money. It can be easy. Make dinner with your flatmate, eat together and have a chat. Call home and speak to your mum or your nan whilst you’re doing your grocery shopping, or walking to your lecture. Suggest a group study session to your seminar squad. Invite your friend over to watch a film on a quiet Friday night. Don’t isolate yourself. Feeling supported is the best thing.
The key is to set intentions, rather than hard and fast resolutions – accept that you will hit bumps, you will fall back on old habits, you will be too tired or too busy or just forget. That is all okay. Everything is a process. Be patient with yourself.
Happy New Year, Leeds.
(Image: Media Prive)