A positive approach to the New Year

This time of year brings a renewed commitment to tackling issues and making positive changes in our lives that are often health related. However, even when people with diabetes do all the right things to manage their condition, they can still face challenges.

This is why when setting health related goals as part of New Year’s resolutions, aiming for a holistic improvement will allow you to focus on yourself as a whole, rather than on one specific area.

To have success with New Year goals, they should be specific and achievable. Understanding where you are at now, and where you would like to be with your goals, provides you with the starting point, and allows you to track your progress.

Equally essential is making sure you set achievable goals. Although you may want to be able to walk for an hour each day, you may need to start off with 10 minute walks as you build strength.

When you reach the goal of 10 minute walks you can reflect on the fact that you’ve gone from no walks to 10 minute walks each day, and give yourself a pat on the back!

You can then reset the goal to 20 minute walks and so on until you reach your goal to walk an hour each day.

Goals should also be enjoyable and important enough that you have a sense of pride in their achievement. Avoid setting goals that are too hard, or unrealistic, as they can become a source of additional and unnecessary stress in our lives.

New Year’s goals that will contribute to your total wellbeing (and as a bonus help you manage diabetes) might include:

  • Healthy eating – loading your plate with lots of colourful salad and some fruit tempts the taste buds. Salads are easy to make, nutritious and are a great filler in this warmer weather. Your goal could be to eat three salads per week.
  • Drinks – reducing your intake of soft drinks, alcohol or sugar in tea and coffee is often the simplest way to reduce your intake of kilojoules. Try whizzing up some greens and fruit in a blender with ice to quench your thirst and get your two fruit and five veg daily. The goal could be as simple as cutting down from one teaspoon of sugar in your cuppa to ½ a teaspoon.
  • Leisure time – spend time doing the things that relax you and make you happy. Activities you enjoy are great for reducing stress. This might include craft, socialising or playing a musical instrument. Your goal may be making one afternoon a week your craft or social afternoon.
  • Physical activity – if you are not physically active each day, then starting with a slow 10 minute walk, building up to 30 minutes a day, might be a realistic goal for you.
  • We all know that laughter is the best medicine so take the time to do things that bring you joy and make your heart sing. Think about what makes life worthwhile. Is it spending time with family, meeting your friends at a cafe, volunteering in the community, dressing up and going out for dinner, or sitting beside the sea smelling the ocean breeze? When you reach your goals why not reward yourself with an activity that makes you feel happy. Because any activity that is good for the mind is good for the soul, and helps you manage life (and diabetes) in a healthy way.

Consistency and enjoyment is the key to starting and establishing a new habit. So if you get to February and you haven’t started on the New Year’s goal you have set for yourself, there’s plenty of time.

Remember there are 12 months in the year, so pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start aiming for your new goals.

By: Alison Crow, Pharmacist & Diabetes Educator

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