This year, try making a New Year’s resolution that focuses on the steps needed in order to make a change instead of the change itself. Focusing on the change itself, such as losing weight, without any real support or direction makes it hard to follow through.
A New Year’s resolution is seen as a promise we make to ourselves about something we want to change. But although we have good intentions, the cold hard truth is that most of us don’t keep those promises to ourselves. One study showed that over a two year period only 19 percent of people keep their New Year’s Resolutions. Of that 19 percent, approximately 53 percent admitted to slipping at least once.
Today we will discuss how the only New Year’s resolutions you’ll need this year are how to mindfully eat and meditate.
New Year’s Resolution #1: Mindful Eating
Even if your goal this year isn’t weight or health related, you should still consider making mindful eating one of your New Year’s resolutions. Here’s why.
Everything in your life, including the way you treat people, your physical health, work performance, and relationships, comes down to your emotions. When you master your emotions or simply learn how to channel them, the quality of your life improves.
Eating when you’re bored, stressed, sad, or fearful teaches the body that food can be used as a coping mechanism. But in reality, this is not the purpose of food at all. Food should nourish your mind and body, giving it energy to perform at its best.
For example, many people turn to food for comfort or if they are bored. One of the first rules in mindful eating is checking in with yourself before indulging. Ask yourself if what happened earlier that day (your co-worker made an offensive comment or your child resisted being dropped off at daycare) is affecting your mood right now. If it is, resist eating and understand that hunger is not the main force driving you to eat. And if you’re not hungry, what good will eating do? As you certainly cannot enjoy food like it is meant to be when stressed.
New Year’s Resolution #2: Mindful Meditation
Stress is the driving force of everything negative. It causes you to say hurtful words or take things out on yourself, miss out on sleep, over-think, and a host of other non-productive situations. As the saying goes, “worry changes nothing.” But most of us worry because we don’t know how else to channel our feelings.
Meditation teaches us how to cope with feelings, including uncomfortable ones. If your vice is that you turn to food when bored or stressed, be sure to practice a few minutes of quiet meditation time before taking a bite. During that time, focus on your breathing. You may even want to slowly repeat a word over and over, such as “relax.” Also try picturing a favorite memory from your last vacation or something that happened to you recently. Whatever you focus on, make sure it’s positive, constructive, and helps you relax.
The next time you feel stressed and think to reach for food, take 5 minutes to meditate quietly to yourself. Chances are at the end of those 5 minutes you will no longer feel the need to eat. This exercise works great for anytime you feel stressed.
Closing your eyes for a few minutes and taking a few deep breaths may help you realize that stress and worry is not productive. Stress does not help any situation nor does it do anything for your health except harm it.
When it comes to keeping your New Year’s resolution (or any goal in life), stress works by derailing you. When you’re stressed, you make poor decisions or fall off the band wagon. The goal of meditation is to calm your mind and body, easing stress and clearing your mind so that you can make the best choices possible, including better more nourishing food choices.
Incorporating the Two
Most New Year’s resolutions only benefit you short term. However, learning the skills needed to master your emotions and deal with stress are coping mechanisms that will come in handy for the rest of your life. There will never be a period in your life where learning how to cope with stress or poor eating habits will NOT come in handy.
Start by writing down everything. Keep a journal or a pad of paper nearby wherever you go. Write down your emotions throughout the day as well as what you did to cope with them. Maybe you’re unaware that you reach for food during times of unpleasant emotions. If that’s the case, keeping a diary or list of your habits will help you improve them.
You may even want to practice meditating first thing in the morning when you get up each day. Go over your day in your head and anticipate how you would handle any stressful situation that comes up. You might just find yourself better prepared and more confident to say no to mindless eating!