For many of us today marks the first full week of the New Year. And if you’re human, as we all are, it’s likely you’ve rationalized an indulgence or two (or three) over the holidays. “An extra helping of stuffing won’t kill me”, you told yourself. A cup of eggnog, two sugar cookies and 4 holiday parties later it wasn’t just an extra helping. As the holiday season hit its peak so did the rationalizations (and maybe even the pounds). But what excuses do we have for indulging in January? How do we stop all the excess and immoderation?
According to statistics as few as 8% of New Year’s resolutions are successfully attained, so going cold turkey is probably not going to work. The key to long term success with any behavior change is gradual integration and, most importantly, with compassion. Just as you would root to rise up in yoga posture, the tips below will help you set up for ditching the excess and returning to a balanced life.
Be Kind to Yourself
Here’s a radical concept – be kind to yourself! Use the first several days of the New Year to steady yourself with some nice cups of (detox) tea, plenty of rest, a good book, and perhaps a field trip with nature. For now, don’t worry about losing weight, answering every single email or getting back to yoga five days a week. Just work on getting yourself more psychologically centered.
Realign and Recommit
Use this “easing-back to-moderation” time to reflect on and regain your spiritual perspective. Ostensibly the holidays are about religious observances. However the religion aspect often gets lost in the hustle and bustle, and many have different beliefs. As we begin a the New Year ask yourself if your spiritual practice or beliefs, whatever they might be, are working for you. If it’s not, what has worked in the past and how could you return to this? In other words, realign and recommit to spiritual, mental and emotional well-being.
Chances are you’ve just emerged from a time of intense social interaction. The New Year is a good time to cut back on social commitments and direct your focus inward. It may also be helpful to evaluate relationship patterns. Unfortunately conflict with loved ones is not uncommon during the holidays. If you experienced some, zoom out and try to see what your contribution was. Could it be some of your holiday excesses were the result of spending time with the wrong crowd? Maybe it’s time to cut the dead wood from your relationship tree, keeping in mind that the people we spend the most time with will have the greatest influence on our state of mind. Choose wisely.
Then there’s the matter of that extra layer of insulation around your waist. For starters, forgive yourself. Radical self-care and self-love are both companions when it comes to losing weight. Second, after a month of losing stare downs with buffet tables and hosted bars, return to mindfulness. Buddhist teachers encourage their students to eat mindfully as a form of meditation. Paying close attention to the sensation and purpose of each morsel helps to expand consciousness and, like sitting meditation, relieve stress.
Lastly, when you backslide, be kind to yourself and let it go. Just as you would on your yoga mat, take a breath, leave the previous pose behind and flow with grace into the next without judgment. You’ll regain your balance in no time. Each day is a fresh start, full of possibility.