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New year’s resolutions you can achieve

Behavioural Insights Adviser at Bupa UK
29 December 2020

If you’re thinking about making some new year’s resolutions, it’s worth considering how big a goal you want to set yourself this year. It’s fantastic to have big ambitions – like giving up smoking, losing excess weight or getting fit, for example. But with an unprecedented year behind us and all the upheaval it’s caused, there’s no shame in making your goals smaller and more achievable this year.

Keep your new year’s resolution small

There’s no reason you shouldn’t look to make some positive changes in 2021. But if ever there’s a time to be kind to yourself, it’s now. Your resilience was likely to have been tested to the limit last year. Many of us are still reeling from the changes to our everyday lives.

So reduce the pressure on yourself. Think carefully about the goals you set and how you’ll stick to them. Rather than striving for big or obscure goals that may be hard to achieve, identify small changes in behaviour that you might find easier to make.

Here are a few new year’s resolution ideas.

  • Get outdoors. Vow to spend more time in nature this year. Whether it’s getting out for a daily walk, taking your lunchbreak in the park or planning in some trips to local nature reserves. Spending time outdoors is great for both your mental and physical wellbeing.
  • Eat well. If sticking to a whole new healthy eating regime seems too big a task, think about just one or two small changes you can make instead. Perhaps commit to a meat-free day once a week, upping your fruit and veg intake, or trying some new healthy recipes.
  • Sleep well. If you’re guilty of burning the candle at both ends, establishing a better bedtime routine can really help. You might want to aim to be in bed by a certain time each night or stop screen time in the evenings. Think about how to relax and wind down before bed.
  • Drink more water. It sounds simple, but not drinking enough fluids is something that many of us do and is easy to resolve. Keeping hydrated helps with things like concentration levels and healthy skin. It’s also essential for many bodily processes, enabling your body to function at its best.
  • Walk more. You might not be ready to run marathons (or even 5km). But walking is something almost everyone can do – it’s the simplest way to exercise more and improve your health. There are many apps available to download to your phone to track your steps and keep tabs on your progress.
  • Look after your mental wellbeing. It’s been a tough and unnerving year and we’re all likely to have felt it to various degrees. Why not make your mental wellbeing your priority next year? Get back to basics – factor in time to relax and enjoy life. Perhaps you can give yoga or mindfulness a go, or just make time for a relaxing bath or reading a book to unwind. Check out our advice and tools for dealing with stress, anxiety and loneliness.

One thing at a time

Don’t make things too hard for yourself by trying to do everything once. Pick one or two things that really resonate with you, and you think you could stick to. Achieving a small new year’s goal can give you a real sense of accomplishment and motivate you to carry on.

And if you do have a slip-up, don’t panic! It’s only natural for motivation to come and go and slip-ups are all part of the process. There’s no reason to give up on your new year’s goals – instead show some self-compassion, forgive yourself and keep trying.

As the year goes on – who knows? You may feel ready to build upon those small goals and stretch yourself to achieve even more.


If you’re worried about your mental health, our direct access service aims to provide you with the advice, support and treatment you need as quickly as possible. If you’re covered by your health insurance, you’ll be able to get mental health advice and support usually without the need for a GP referral. Learn more today.

Lauren Gordon
Behavioural Insights Adviser at Bupa UK

    • Nature and mental health. Mind. www.mind.org.uk, published May 2018
    • How to cope with sleep problems. Tips to improve your sleep. Mind. www.mind.org.uk, published May 2020
    • The importance of hydration. British Dietetic Association. www.bda.uk.com, published 19 August 2019

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