Ace your New Year's resolution with mindfulness

Ace your New Year's resolution with mindfulness

For many people, making a New Year's resolution resembles the movie groundhog day.  Every time January 1st comes around, you decide to change your life for the better.  Exercise more, sleep more, eat less, start meditation.  Yet despite your best intentions, you still somehow manage to break your resolutions.  How do you get to where you want to be?  How will this year actually be different?  Perhaps the answer is not external, but internal.

Mindfulness practice can help you create healthy habits.  The following two mindful “hacks” will support you in making this year’s resolutions last.  

Start by boosting your impulse control with mindfulness

Research suggests that willpower is a form of mental energy, powered by glucose in the bloodstream which is used up as you exert impulse control.  Impulsivity is at the core of many bad habits or a key ingredient of breaking good habits.  As such, one of the most effective ways to start changing your habits is by starting with habits that boost your impulse control.

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Photography by Clay Banks. 

Neuroscience suggests that mindfulness training strengthens the areas in your brain that are responsible for impulse control and increases the serotonin levels in your brain.  This allows you to stop yourself from following an impulse to, for example, ask for a second serving of your favourite dish or to stop eating after one cookie instead of consuming the whole bag.

Hack: Use the mindfulness meditation recording to strengthen your impulse control.

Rewire Your Brain

Habits are usually triggered by a particular cue, situation or event.
Pay careful attention to what, where, when and why your unwanted habit is triggered.  Once you recognise the trigger, take a mindful pause by focusing on your breath to disrupt any habitual unconscious behaviour and engage your conscious mind and impulse control.  The trick then is to consciously repeat your new desired behaviour, action or thought instead.  Maybe you have a habit of coming home from work and pouring yourself a glass of wine in order ‘to wind down’.  Instead, pour yourself a glass of water.  You must repeat this process over and over again (like Pavlov’s dog) until the new habit is wired to the old trigger and you will have outgrown the old habit.

Hack: The next time you’re tempted to break a resolution, stop and focus on your breath. Take three to five deep belly breaths to break unconscious habitual behaviours

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Palma Michel is our Better in 30 Meditation Coach.  She is the Co-Founder of Profuse29, a company that introduces mindfulness and mindful leadership to companies like London School of Economics and The Soho House Group.  Palma is the author of ‘The Authority Guide To Mindful Leadership’ due to be published in April.

Main photograph by Caleb George. 
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