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New Year, New Intentions by Helen Mead

New Intentions are a great way to start the New Year: if we are realistic about them, have thought about them, have a plan to implement them, support in place to keep us strong, and if we don’t throw the whole project into the dustbin if we don’t succeed straight away or fall off the proverbial wagon; it is to be expected. We are human.

Therapist Helen Mead explores ways we can become healthier and happier in 2019 through realistic intention.

The New Year can be a challenging time to turn over a new leaf especially when we have just had a month of excess – giving ourselves everything we want and desire.

Depending on your goals, some plans can best be implemented gradually. If you have been eating steak and tiramisu on NYE – it is not the best thing for the body to go straight into detox on January 1st!

Cutting out the alcohol would be a good first start to a gradual detox which took you to the deepest part of your cleanse in a months time. Certain traditions like Dry January can be a useful support in giving the body a well-earned break if all your friends are taking part too. Check in with them and see if they want to join in and maybe get a WhatsApp group going to keep you all focused and strong. You can still get together and have fun, not drinking together! Look to choose a different location to meet – rather than feeling temptation or just falling prey to plain old habitual thinking and behaviour.

HALT – is a rallying cry that is very useful to remember – any craving while hungry angry lonely or tired is an acting out. See it and call it and resist it and address the underlying issue. The craving will pass. Especially if you don’t feed it!

There is an opportunity when bringing in a new behaviour to understand more about what makes us tick. Starting to get to the bottom of what makes us reach for the wine, cake, chocolate or even Facebook. Often it is a distraction from something we find unpleasant – make room to start noticing what is going on for you when you want to reach for the substance or behaviour you want to give up.

With many substances we crave, whether cigarettes, alcohol, coffee, cake or chocolate – it can also give us a clue to what we are supplementing or replacing – in an attempt to feeling good, boosting mood or reducing stress levels.

Exercise is a great solution to all of the above and as such is a great intention to have on your New Years list. Some form of workout – especially first thing in the morning gives you a clear head and an endorphin lift, which can last your whole day.

As with all new habits – initially you just have to obey the God Nike and just do it! If you can Willpower yourself through the first 30 days you will start to make a new pattern stick. After six months it will be hardwired and you will have a new healthy behaviour at your fingertips no longer an intention – a reality.

As you can see, any long lasting change, forms quite a commitment. If you want to change ANYTHING in your life a good first goal is implement a meditation practice; making the more positive part of your brain robust and starving your old negative pathways.

Mindfulness will help you to build awareness around your behaviour and reactions as well as enable you to stay with unpleasant experiences – such as anxiety, fear, anger or even cravings.

Loving kindness meditation, the perfect complement to mindfulness, will help you to generate more positive feelings for yourself and others – helping your sense of self care and contentment to rise. It’s a powerful weapon in the process of change. The more you are kind to yourself – the more you will realise that the changes you want to bring into your life are the real treat and it will seem less hard to abstain. You are literally working to change your mind!

With a meditation practice in place – and your mind on side; giving up anything will be easier and you will be much more aware of the processes and resistances you are going through and will put more resources in place to help you through.

The resources to get you through any change are imperative. What do you enjoy doing? Cinema, walks in nature, visiting friends you’ve not seen for too long, practicing a language, crafting… make a list and make sure you make them happen!

To make this years model a reality remember to be realistic with your goals. Maybe just tackle one thing at a time and above all be kind to yourself. The world is a hard enough place to make headway without putting obstacles in your own path.

Remember there is a reason for the behaviours you have – if you eat ready meals maybe that’s because you don’t have time to cook – if you open the wine as soon as you get in from work maybe you feel really stressed or don’t like your job. Your life is your life – so how are you going to change the life you live to accommodate making way for the life you love?

The word intentions is a big clue as to how we should be working the programme. What is the bigger picture? Why do you want to set these intentions? The more you can keep the intention in your heart and mind the more you can get to where you want to be and above all make sure you have a happy new year!

Helen Mead BMRCP is a Professional Complementary Medicine Practitioner who takes a naturopathic approach – combining nutrition and lifestyle advise, and employing meditation alongside therapeutic methods to empower her clients to make the changes in their life they desire.

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