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Life-enhancing resolutions that you might actually stick to

By: elocal staff

Forget crash diets and expensive gym memberships, these habits are the key to boosting wellbeing and creativity in the new year, we have put together some resolutions that you might actually stick to.

  1. Get to grips with new tools

This doesn’t mean activating that cordless drill you got for Christmas. We’re talking about a set of bite-sized visualisation exercises, which can transform your hang-ups into boundless new year confidence, courage and creativity.

Developed by LA-based psychotherapists Phil Stutz and Barry Michaels, their material has been around for a while, but is still very relevant.

A dynamic, results-oriented practice, The Tools aims to deliver relief from persistent problems and restore control and hope right away. Every day presents challenges—big and small—that the tools transform into opportunities to bring about bold and dramatic change in your life. Stutz and Michels teach you how to:

• Master the things you are avoiding and live in forward motion.

• Free yourself from out-of-control rage and never-ending grudges.

• Express Yourself: Learn the secret of true confidence and find your authentic voice.

• Combat Anxiety: Stop obsessive worrying and negative thinking.

• Find Discipline: Activate willpower and make the most of every minute.

  1. Start a journal

Keeping a journal helps to acknowledge how we are feeling each day, something that Stutz is also a fan of. You tend to enhance your relationship with yourself when you write, its like a mirror, reflecting what is going on in your subconscious.

Psychologist and wellbeing coach Lee Chambers — one of Marie Claire magazine’s 2022 ‘future shapers’ — says keeping a journal is a chance to accept how we feel. “Very rarely in our busy lives do we stop and express what might potentially be our deepest thoughts and feelings, and — as we write them — have time to process them,” he says.

There is no right or wrong way to journal, and there is no need to leap into a rigid regime of writing daily. Instead, work out something that works for you, and with today’s technology, options can include recordings of voice or via video which you can automatically transcribe.

  1. Stop stressing over sleep

Fretting over your nightly 40 winks? Perhaps you don’t need every single one of them after all. Prof Russell Foster is on a mission to silence the “sergeant majors of sleep” who swear by an uninterrupted eight hours of shut-eye. “The perfect night of sleep varies enormously from person to person,” he explains. “The key thing is working out how much we need individually — it could be as few as six hours, or as many as 10-and-a-half.”

Foster, who heads up the University of Oxford’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, believes one of the biggest enemies of sleep is — ironically — anxiety about not getting enough of it. “Most people don’t have a sleep problem, they have an anxiety or stress problem,” he says. “Also, people think they don’t have any control over sleep, but in fact it’s an incredibly dynamic behaviour. We can do a lot to change it.”

Circadian neuroscience is all about what, quite literally, makes us tick. To the layman, it’s the study of our 24-hour body clock, and the secret to setting it for optimum sleep mode lies, paradoxically, in what we do right after we wake up.

For more top sleep and body clock tips from Foster, check out his bestselling book, Life Time.

  1. Take a Cold Bath!

Experts reckon a cold dip can do wonders for the mind and body and cold water aficionado Dr Mark Harper has spent his career as a consultant anaesthetist researching ways to keep patients warm during surgery. But in his recent book, Chill — The Cold Water Swim Cure, he turns a scientific eye on winter swimming, and provides evidence of its power to heal both body and mind.

The starting point for Harper was the realisation that our bodily reactions to the stresses of surgery and cold water are identical.

Harper says the anxieties of modern life coupled with shoddy diets mean many of us carry increased levels of baseline inflammation in our bodies.

Cold water is also known to deliver a feel-good, endorphin boost. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, Harper recommends waiting until the spring and starting slow, and having a short five or six minute dip once a week for six weeks to acclimatise.

  1. Set manageable fitness goals

Making any lifestyle change can be challenging. Many people find that having a goal in mind gives them something to work towards, motivates them to stay on track and provides a measure of how well they are doing. But if you’re trying to become more physically setting realistic, well-planned goals keep you focused and motivated.

World renowned Bodycoach Joe Wicks has a fantastic ‘First Steps to Fitness’ programme, which is ideal if you’re starting out or returning from a lay-off.

The Wicks approach means your fitness sessions are never going to take more than 15 minutes out of your day, and there’s no pricey gym membership or special equipment required.

Equally, if the idea of regular weekday workouts fills you with dread, don’t sweat it — at least not until the weekend. A decade-long study by researchers in Brazil tracking 350,000 people concluded that cramming exercise into one or two weekend sessions is just as good for you as spreading it over the week.

The World Health Organization recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity — a walk or gentle bike ride — each week. For more vigorous exercise like running or swimming, it’s just 75 minutes.

  1. Improve your Gut Health

Curious about kimchi? You should be — it could be the key to a happier you. Research is unravelling the complex relationship between the microbiome — the bacteria, fungi and viruses in our bowels and bodily tissues — and our state of mind. For example, one study found that adding a Bifidobacterium probiotic into the diet boosted volunteers’ memories and reduced stress, proof that maintaining happy, healthy bugs puts a smile on your face.

Health guru and professor of genetics Tim Spector detailed the microbiome’s importance for all-round wellbeing in his groundbreaking 2015 book The Diet Myth. His 2020 follow-up Spoon-Fed discussed how gut microbes impact mental health.

He cautions that microbiomes are unique to the individual, however as a general rule of thumb, eating a varied diet of plants — including seeds, nuts, herbs and spices — while avoiding ultra-processed foods is going to set you on the right course. Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir are also great for delivering a bacterial gut boost.

  1. Work on low mood

A dose of the new year blues is a totally normal response to this monumental marker of the passage of time, but it doesn’t mean you have to live with that sinking feeling for the next 12 months.

Clinical psychologist and online sensation Dr Julie Smith creates coping techniques for the Tiktok generation with nuggets of practical advice on everything from managing anxiety to dealing with criticism — over 4m followers can’t be wrong.

Her Sunday Times number one bestseller ‘Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?’ kicks off with guidance on dealing with those down days. “If we see low mood as purely a fault in the brain, we don’t believe we can change it, so instead we get to work on hiding it,” she writes. Smith offers seven easy to follow tips that can deliver an instantaneous mood boost, suggesting regular workouts reduce the risk of relapse. She also advises maintaining or reviving social connections to avoid ruminating on negative thoughts, and setting daily intentions to navigate your way out of the darkness and into the light.

Forget crash diets and expensive gym memberships, these habits are the key to boosting wellbeing and creativity in the new year, we have put together some resolutions that you might actually stick to.

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elocal Digital Edition – February 2024 (#274)

elocal Digital Edition
February 2024 (#274)

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