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From burnout to balance: Health tweaks for the new year!

I’m pretty serious about my New Year’s resolutions. So serious, in fact, that I’m not actually able to share them with you right now, because I haven’t finalised them yet. I like to spend a bit of time over the holidays reflecting on the past year, figuring out what I’d like to improve on and what my goals are. I recognise that this tradition is not for everybody, and I’m not advocating those ‘lose 10kg/exercise every day/give up all junk food forever’ vague and unrealistic resolutions that only seem to set us up for failure. A recent Guardian article about the British sandwich industry stated, Sandwich factories know that our New Year’s resolutions will last until the third week of January, when the BLT orders pick up again.

I’m talking about making little tweaks or sparking off daily or weekly habits that improve health and well-being, rather than trying to give things up. Twenty years ago, I resolved to ditch diets and just focus on eating at least five servings of vegetables and fruit every day. Three years ago, it was running three times each week, every week. These routines have become such a part of my life that I hardly even think about them now.

But some of the tweaks I’ve made are truly tiny. Last year, after reading The First 20 Minutes, Gretchen Reynolds’ book about health and fitness hacks, I resolved to stand on one leg while brushing my teeth. Brilliant! It improves your balance but doesn’t really involve any willpower or take any time out of your morning or evening routine. (I’m assuming here that you do already brush your teeth, but if not, you might like to make that one of your New Year’s resolutions.) Try it, and Reynolds suggests that if it’s too easy, you can close your eyes as well. (I’m not up to that stage yet.)

This year, I am thinking of making up and sticking to a routine that will help me switch off from work. Probably something that doesn’t involve collapsing on the couch with snacks and social media. Another idea is keeping a five minute journal. A couple of years ago, I resolved to write down a few things I was grateful for every night, and five minutes of journaling would add just a little more reflection and goal setting to this routine.

To be honest, I am still toying with a couple of the old New Year classics as well. These include drinking more water and setting a new personal record for push-ups. At the moment, my personal best is, sadly, zero, but I’m sure that if I take things slowly and steadily, I could at least double that.

*Lynne Glen is a guest blogger and reader of Healthy Food Guide. She has taken up the challenge to use the mental well-being and resilience advice from healthyfood.com and write about her progress. This blog is the opinion and experiences of its author and should not be taken as medical or dietetic advice. Healthy Food Guide has not verified the content and cannot endorse any advice given. Healthy Food Guide recommends seeking professional health advice for specific complaints or symptoms.

First published: Jan 2018