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How to keep New Year's resolutions

Around seven million people will make a New Year’s resolution to improve an aspect of their health. NHS Choices offers practical advice on how to stick to them.

After the overindulgence of Christmas, many people see the new year as an opportunity for self-improvement. The most common health resolutions are to:

  • eat more fruit and vegetables,
  • do more exercise,
  • stop smoking, and 
  • drink less alcohol.

Keeping a New Year’s resolution can be tough. A promise made hastily, when you feel guilty after Christmas, can quickly be forgotten when you return to your normal routine in January.

Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at Hertfordshire University, gives the following tips for boosting willpower and staying motivated.

1. Make only one resolution. Choosing just one aspect of your health to improve will increase your chance of success.

2. Plan your resolution in advance. This will give you time to think about your goal and how to achieve it.

3. Don’t repeat last year’s resolution. Or, if you do, at least pick a different technique to achieve it.

4. Keep the resolution specific and write it down.

5. Plan a reward for when you achieve your goal. This will give you something to focus on.

Once you’ve chosen the aspect of your health you want to improve, visit one of the Live Well sections below to help to motivate you. They contain practical advice to help you achieve your goals:

Lose weight: practical ways to lose excess weight, including healthy food swaps, and tips from others on what worked for them.

Stop smoking: help with quitting, including what your GP can do, local support services and nicotine replacement therapies.

Get active: find out how much activity you need to do to be healthy and cut your risk of illness, and how to fit more exercise into your life.

Cut your drinking: learn how alcohol affects the body and get tips on moderating your drinking, including a mobile phone drinks tracker.