Groundhog Hair by Amber Alexander
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OK, so what happened to January?
And what about those resolutions?
If you’re up here north of the jet stream, I suspect your resolutions have burrowed back under a couple feet of snow with the illustrious groundhog!
I know how you feel—mine are still a bunch of nebulous intentions wandering in and out and around my head.
Take heart. We’re not alone. A university study in Britain found that less than a quarter of folks surveyed managed to keep their New Year’s resolutions. It also found that people were more successful in keeping them if they broke down their goals into smaller steps
This finding echoes an article I read recently in Delicious Living called “16 Sustainable Resolutions” by Kate Hanley. In it she offers up “simple changes to improve health [and] increase happiness.” All of that—in baby-step doses.
“Instead of grand gestures (lose 25 pounds, exercise every day),” she writes, “think baby steps. It’s not a cop-out—it’s a wildly effective means of creating lasting change.”
Hanley goes on to quote M.J. Ryan, author of AdaptAbility:
“Making a change takes focus; it requires your brain to not be habitual—but your brain is designed to work habitually.…So do one thing, nail it as a habit, then do the next thing.”
Many of Hanley’s sustainable resolutions are interesting and easy to grab on to. That’s the trick, I think. Being able to sink your teeth into them right from the start. Think about it…“exercise every day,” just makes you want to go take a nap! But, “get to the gym three times a week” seems more manageable, doesn’t it?
I’m including my five favorite ideas from Hanley’s article here. Now let’s dig out from this winter hibernation and get back on track with our resolutions, shall we?
Get up, stand up.
Resolve to stand more during the day—during phone calls, while watching the weather report, on the train. Sitting all day reduces blood levels of lipoprotein lipase, which breaks down fat so it’s available to be burned. This can lower metabolism and increase fat retention. Plus, standing burns more calories than sitting.
Schedule a weekly lunch date with a rotating cast of characters—your spouse, close friends, coworkers, anyone you’d like to get to know better. Studies show people with strong, diverse social networks live longer, experience less mental decline as they age, and have greater resistance to infectious disease.
Make a habit of saying a simple thank you for the food on your plate and everyone who played a role in getting it there. It will help cultivate gratitude and a deeper connection to your food and where it came from.
Screen your calls.
If you don’t recognize a number, let it go to voice mail. If it’s a friend or family member, consider whether it’s a good time to talk before you answer. “Not answering the phone most of the time saves me probably five hours a week and makes me happier because my attention is less divided,” says Meagan Francis, thehappiestmom.com blogger and author of a soon-to-be-released book of the same name.
Make creativity dates.
Instead of waiting (and waiting) for flashes of inspiration, schedule a weekly date to exercise your own creativity, whether it’s a sewing class, a craft night with friends, or just an hour to pursue a hobby. The goal isn’t to produce a work of art, but to let your mind expand in new ways and continue to grow, literally. Activating the brain by learning novel skills over time enhances memory and helps new brain cells survive, research shows.
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• Wonderful wonderful Groundhog Hair reprinted with permission from artist Amber Alexander. Click here to visit her Etsy shop.
• Click here to read Kate Hanley’s full article on “Sustainable Resolutions.”
• Source of University Study: “New Year’s Resolutions Doomed To Failure, Say Psychologists,” by Ian Sample, The Guardian.