How many times have you set yourself resolutions for the new year only to find that you give up on them before February? Before you decide that you simply don’t have what it takes to stick to your resolutions, consider this… Maybe you haven’t been able to succeed in the past because you didn’t set yourself up for success ahead of time.
The holiday season can be incredibly hectic. Time pressures in getting everything ready on time. Sometimes there can be tension, awkwardness, or conflict within our interactions with family. Even just having to fight crowds, the bright lights and loud noises of holiday shopping, or the change in diet can result in changes within our bodies.
Amongst other things, these kinds of stressors suppress the functioning of the pre-frontal cortex in our brains. The part of our brain largely responsible for planning. What’s the result? Difficulties sleeping, irritability, difficulties focusing or remembering things. Let’s not forget a dip in energy, in motivation, experiencing strong food cravings, and negative thinking.
Not a great state to be in for kicking goals with big New Years resolutions. So what can you do to reset your pre-frontal cortex?
1: Schedule in a pyjama day
Think of this as a day where there’s nothing you need to do, nowhere you need to be. Hang out in your comfy clothes. Turn down the volume. Sleep in. Then nap if you want. Eat more carefully and choose healthy nutritious foods. Do some gentle exercise like yoga if you want. Meditate, have a relaxing and long bath, or get a massage. The idea is to slow things right down so that your nervous system can level out.
2: Set a planning date
Decide on a day when you will sit down and work out a plan for making your resolutions and how you will achieve them… that’s not today. And after your pyjama day. If a thought comes up regarding something that needs to be dealt with in the New Year simply notice the thought and then let it go, knowing that you can address it on your planning day when you are ready.
Essentially you are giving yourself permission to not make any decisions, not worry, and not think about the future until you are in the right headspace to do so. You are allowing yourself a brain break from stress.
3: Prepare for success
The day before your planning day avoid caffeine after 3pm, avoid alcohol the night before, stay away from screens in the hour before bed, and make sure you’ve been physically active that day. All of the above will set you up for a good nights sleep, allowing you to fall asleep more easily and experience good quality sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and able to think more clearly.
Eat a healthy breakfast, go for a walk in the fresh air, and then sit down and decide what it is you want to achieve in 2018, and how you are going to do it. Because you’ve been taking care of yourself, slowing down, and calming your nervous system, your brain should be much better at making decisions, solving potential problems, and taking a more positive approach.
Now isn’t that a better way to kick off the New Year? We think so too.