From exercising and going on a diet to giving up smoking and alcohol. The New Year is known for inspiring people to make drastic lifestyle changes that many are unable to fulfil by the end of the year. Why do we make resolutions and where did this tradition of self-improvement come from?

The earliest recorded New Year’s resolution practice was 4,000 years ago by the Babylonians. A 12-day celebration (Akitu) would be held in March to mark the spring Harvest. At this time a new king would be crowned or the current king would be reaffirmed. Special rituals were practised by the Babylonians to worship the gods in hope that next year would be prosperous and fruitful.

In 153 BC, the Roman senate announced that 1st January would be the start of the year to pay homage to ‘Janus’. January is derived from ‘Janus’. According to Roman Mythology, Janus was the God of beginnings and symbolised change. He was described as having two faces looking in opposite directions. This represented the past and the future. Although it was introduced a lot earlier, Julius Cesar made this an annual practice. However by 46 BC the Romans were making offerings and promises leading up to the New Year in the hope that Janus would bless them.

To help you achieve any resolutions that you’ve made for yourself, it is best to choose ones that are realistic and attainable. It could something very small! Even if you don’t set one, it’s never too late to make a resolution as each day should be considered as a new page in your life for you fill with amazing activities, achievements or simple observations about yourself.  Here are some suggestions to get started:

Get some perspective in your life, put down your phone and switch off from social media

Watching what others are up to all day, on social media, can be damaging for your health. You may be comparing yourself to unrealistic or false standards set by others and thus putting yourself under unnecessary pressure. If you are able to do so, put your phone down for set time e.g. a few hours, a day or even a week. Think about what you will do with this spare time; go for a walk, take in some exercise, read a physical book plus there’s the added bonus that you may have a better quality sleep.

Be more active

Take a 30 minute walk or go to gym. This will help you to get fit as well as lose weight. There’s the added benefit of improving your overall health and wellbeing.

Take up a hobby

Learning a new skill can be fun and could provide you with an outlet, improving your mental health and wellbeing. There are so many different activities that you can do either on your own or in groups, if you are able to get out and about.

Stress less and get more sleep

It’s easier said than done but try not to take everything on. If it is hard for you to switch off and unwind before bed, try some gentle yoga or meditation. Also, prepare to go to bed at least 30 mins earlier than normal so that your body and mind can unwind and switch off shifting you into a more relaxed state, ready for sleep.