Teacher Advice: New Year Resolutions 2021
New Year's Resolutions - To make, or not to make?
After an extraordinary year for teachers, we are more than ready for 2020 to come to an end. Will you be making resolutions for the new year to come, and what might they be?
At the beginning of 2020, according to research, around 14 million of us in the UK made New Year's resolutions.
According to a survey, the top 5 resolutions people made were:
- Diet/eat more healthily
- Do more exercise
- Lose weight
- Save more/spend less
- Learn a new skill
However, by mid-January, 40% of us had already 'quit'.
Are resolutions worth making? Of course they are, as long as you choose a manageable amount of realistically achievable goals. Although ambition can be a good thing, with regards to resolutions, many people set the bar too high for themselves, which ultimately leads to failure and an undermining of confidence.
This past year has led many of us to reassess who and what is important in our lives. This coming year, we need to be smarter with our resolutions and kinder to ourselves when making them.
- The first 'rule' of making smart resolutions is not to overwhelm yourself with a long list of things you want to achieve. If you do have more than one goal you want to set yourself, maybe instead of trying to achieve them in tandem, you could focus on one at a time, throughout the year.
- Another important aspect to remember is summed up quite succinctly in these two quotations:
'Focus on progress not perfection.' - Bill Phillips
'Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.' - Salvador Dali
The very fact that you persevere with a goal and do not give up is an achievement, whether or not you have yet succeeded.
- If appropriate, consider breaking the goal up into smaller, more achievable steps. For example, if you want to be more healthy in the new year, start by drinking an extra glass of water every day. Or if you want to take more exercise, start with an extra 500 steps a day, and build it up. The more manageable each part of the goal is, the more likely you are to not only stick to it, but achieve it.
Here are some suggestions for smarter, kinder resolutions to make for yourself:
Take some time for yourself
You may have heard this several times, but it really is important for your well-being.
Make sure you plan some time each week to do something that you want to do. One weekday evening, when the amount of marking and prep you need to do is minimal, set it aside and finally read that novel that has been sitting on your bedside table for months, get out into your garden, or, awaken your creativity and make something. If you persevere with this, knowing that you have that time set aside for yourself should really make a difference to your well-being.
This is a type of meditation where you practise awareness of what you are sensing and feeling in the moment. It is very simple to do, involving breathing exercises and in some cases, guided imagery. It is a technique that helps to relax both the mind and body, and in doing so, reduces stress and anxiety. Taking just 10 minutes out of every day to practise mindfulness can have a significant effect on your mental health. There are a huge range of books and apps available on this topic if you want to find out more.
List Three Things
Every evening, before you go to sleep, review the day and make a note of three things that were positive about your day, or made you feel good. They don't have to be huge events - maybe you managed to cross something off your 'to-do' list that had been on there a while, you saw a child’s ‘light bulb’ moment when they grasped a concept that they had been struggling with, or a stranger smiled at you and said hello whilst you were out on a walk. This simple exercise helps you to focus on the positive aspects of the day, rather than the negative, as many of us tend to do.
Walk more/Drink more water
These resolutions can be the first steps to a bigger/longer-term exercise/eat more healthily goal, or they can be the goal themselves - either or both will help your body and your brain!
- The benefits of walking are many - it can strengthen your heart and increase your lung fitness, reduce high blood pressure, give you stronger bones and improved balance, ease joint and muscle pain, improve your mood and give you an energy boost - who doesn't want all this?! The NHS recommends that we do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week - a brisk 30 minute walk five times a week would fit this criteria. But if you can't manage this, any increase in the amount you walk will be beneficial. Every once in a while, you could even try escaping from the classroom at lunchtime and going on a brisk 15 minute walk!
- Staying hydrated is important - studies have shown that even mild dehydration can lower energy levels and affect our mood, memory and concentration. Drinking enough water can also reduce the occurrence of headaches and migraines (or lessen their effect). The recommended amount of water that we should drink per day is eight glasses - even if you don't hit this target every day, try to be more mindful of how much water you do drink, and when your body might need a 'top-up'. Keep a water bottle to hand in your classroom - if it’s easy to grab you are more likely to drink it!
Write a letter to a friend or loved one
Resolutions don't always have to be about benefiting ourselves. This past year has led many of us to reassess who is important in our lives, and to make a renewed effort to keep in touch with them. So, sometimes, rather than texting or emailing, why not write them a good old-fashioned letter? (For me, at certain points this year, a visit from the postie was the most exciting thing to happen some days!) A letter shows that you have been thinking about the person and have taken the time to write to them, find an envelope and stamp, and take a walk to the post box.
Whether you decide to make new year's resolutions for 2021 or not, here is an idea worth taking to heart from best-selling author and speaker, Louise L Hay:
'Remember, you have been criticising yourself for years and it hasn't worked.
Try approving of yourself and see what happens.'