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New Year, new shoots, enjoy turning over a new leafA new year. The turning of a seasonal page is, of course, a great opportunity to make a fresh start. It's probably no surprise that nearly half the UK population use the occasion to draw up a list of New Year's resolutions. And do you know what the most popular New Year's resolutions are? You can probably guess at least three of them. Here they are:
- Losing weight: around 25% of resolutions revolve around losing weight. Are we successful? Generally, no. Determination is always stronger before the event and after a few weeks people often lose heart and go back to their normal pattern of eating. The greatest success is enjoyed by those who join groups such as slimming clubs - even gardening clubs - as the group mentality tends to hold people together. Another successful tactic is to set a specific goal. i.e. resolve to lose a stone in weight within three months rather than a non-specific amount with no firm time-frame in place.
- Taking more exercise: more than 20% of those making resolutions intend to exercise more. Many of these join a gym or sports club. Some decide to go for a run every day and others want to incorporate exercise into their normal daily routine, including gardening. Do people succeed? Generally, no. It's great for the first two weeks or so, then by the time February comes around, old habits have crept back into place. A lot of people like their comforts and don't enjoy leaving warm homes in order to exercise. Tip: make it easy for yourself. Aim to incorporate things that fit easily into your day. i.e. walk to the station rather than drive; take the dog for two walks rather than one; run up and down stairs at least ten times per day.
- Quit smoking: it's no surprise that this is up there as one of the most popular New Year's resolutions. Everybody knows it's a negative trait. It is expensive and bad for health. It makes your clothes smell bad and your teeth turn yellow. But this doesn't stop people craving a cigarette. There's a social side to this groups of people congregate during working hours to share their need, which gives them each a sense of belonging. Is this a successful resolution: generally, no. Although around 10% of people who pledge to give up smoking for the New Year manage to carry on for at least six months. Tip: celebrate your success. Even if you only manage it for one month, congratulate yourself and use your achievement to help reduce your mental need in the future.
- Quit drinking: It only takes a bad hangover for this to be included within the New Year's resolutions! But similar to smoking, drinking can turn into a physical dependence and it's not simple to kick the habit. Even if you only manage to stay 'dry' for a month, it's worth doing. It clears the mind and helps to cleanse the body. You'll feel better for being alcohol-free, even if it's temporary.
- Finding a new job: more than 10% of people would like to change their jobs. This isn't something that can usually be achieved instantly, but even the act of looking for a new job can be cathartic. Going for interviews and considering options sometimes makes people appreciate their own job, so job hunting can be very positive for many different reasons.
- Studying for qualifications or learning a new skill: This often appears in the top 10 New Year's resolutions and it's certainly a worthwhile aim. But don't set yourself goals that are too great. You don't need to strive for a degree right at the outset. Just a short course or a term of study will give you new vigour. You can decide whether to continue after you have achieved the first step.
Sow the seed Seeds can be sown in the mind as well as the garden. Those tiny shoots will grow if they are nurtured. They can turn into strong, viable and healthy plants. Think of a tree with its own complete support network of life; it grew from the most slender and delicate shoot that could easily have been crushed if the environment had been too harsh.
Most behaviours can be changed by concentrating on breaking the old thought patterns. Alter neural pathways if they are negative. How? The first step is to recognise that your current thoughts are not helpful to you. Emotions are reflections of thought patterns and it stands to reason that if you allow yourself to think negatively, you will feel negative too. If you expect the worst, you are unlikely to appreciate the best. You might feel you are being 'realistic' but if you are in a constant state of fretting about health; relationships; career or finances, you will forget to notice the positive things.
Stress is the 21st century buzz word for feeling you can't manage. Try not to use that word! Concentrate instead on congratulating yourself for all the small achievements you manage to accomplish during a day. Try not to criticise or to actively feel that you are being criticised by others. Most of it isn't valid and it just accentuates your feelings of anxiety. Give yourself positive affirmations your will be amazed how well this works.
Finally, don't dwell too long on past mistakes. But do re-visit those thoughts just to accept that they happened and to ruminate on a more positive course of action in the future. Turn negative into positive by making a pledge to move on and learn from the past. There's no point wishing things were different it's far better to accept the past and focus on all the good things in the present. GARDENING! Could be the answer to all your problems. Research shows that gardeners are happier than non-gardening people. Add gardening to your New Year's resolutions. Perfect Plants can help you to have the happiest of New Years!