If you’re anything like us, your New Year’s resolutions are beginning to wane about now. You can’t face another meal with quinoa, and the idea of heading outside for a jog is, frankly, horrible. Why even bother? The problem with resolutions is that they pit our small, finite glob of willpower against vast and ingrained habits. We’re bound to fail at some point or another, and that failure inevitably leaves us feeling worse off than if we hadn’t even tried.
Wanting to be healthy is a noble cause, but why jump in at the deep end? January is the most depressing month of the year, so start by being kind to yourself. Do what you enjoy, and make sure you’re happy before tackling any grand ambition. You’ll then be better equipped when the challenges do come along. With that in mind, here are 5 resolution trade-offs to make your spirit soar:
Swap running for running a bath
It’s cold. It’s wet. Running is exhausting. And while it may bring a welcome hit of endorphins, so too does soaking in the tub. A good long bath is an excellent way of shrugging off the stresses of the day. As the temperature rises, your blood flow to the skin increases, for an effect that’s therapeutic and reviving. It’s also a form of workout; a study last year found that sweating in the bath for an hour can burn off a similar amount of calories as a half-hour walk. And taking a steamy bath helps with your breathing and immunity levels, too. Bring it on.
Swap no alcohol for fruity cocktails
Dry January is all well and good, but we like a little fruit in our lives, too. Why not reach a compromise? A cocktail like a Brazilian kiwi caipirinha, or a cucumber jalapeño magarita (thanks, Bali) goes one step towards our five a day, while delivering a feel-good hit into the mix, too. Even if you’re not savouring them on a rooftop bar somewhere exotic, you can still rustle them up at home – for a shot of tropical joie de vivre on a cold winter’s evening.
Swap healthy eating for al fresco feasts
Nothing beats the absolute joy of dining al fresco – whether you’re relishing a beach barbecue in the Philippines, or rustling up a few sausages and a thermos of hot chocolate in your backyard. “For me, wild baking represents freedom,” writes baker Tom Herbert, in his new book on the topic. “[It is] a break from the routine, a chance to re-connect with nature, food and people.” By cooking outdoors, you’re more focused on the experience rather than the food – so the chances are, you may binge less anyway. And it brings food back to what it should be: something convivial and fun, rather than a punitive measure.
Swap overtime for a solo adventure
“I wish I’d spent more time at work” – said no person on their deathbed, ever. Instead of getting ahead by putting in all hours at work this year, consider how holding back might give you the edge instead. A seductive concept, no? Studies show that people who thrive at work tend to be those who take “good enough” over perfect. So, take your foot off the accelerator, and look to different forms of inspiration instead. Focusing on solo travel rather than extra hours in the office will give you more space for big ideas, making you a better performer all round. A career break can also be a very smart move, for similar reasons.
Swap early starts for sunset musings
5am starts maybe the modus operandi of some phenomenally successful people, but they also leave you feeling exhausted and drained. By the time you hit 9am, you already feel like you’ve done a full day’s work. Various research suggests that night owls may also be more intelligent and creative than their early bird counterparts; and they’re surely less knackered, too. Safeguard your energy by waking up as late as possible, and make the most of the sunset, wherever you are (the Dead Sea in Jordan and Morocco’s Atlas Mountains are two of our favourite spots). Your body will thank you for it – and the awe induced by such a beautiful sight may spark off big ideas, and even make you a better person, too. We’ll cheers to that.
Images: Shutterstock and Flash Pack