Have your New Year resolutions lost their sparkle already?
If you find you are already struggling with your New Year’s resolutions, you will not be alone! After the over-indulgences of the festive season (no matter our good intentions, we all tend to find ourselves eating more and exercising less!) the New Year has come to be viewed as a time for starting better habits and taking up new activities. While we may start these ventures with positive intentions, these intentions may be overturned quite quickly when we realize that some things prove to be less appealing in the cold light of day. Getting up early to go out for a jog may have the shine taken off it, after the umpteenth time you have returned soaked and wind-blown on cold January mornings.
The first trick to persevering with a new habit or activity is to pick something you enjoy doing or find a way to turn it into something that you enjoy. If you want to keep jogging (or the drier version of running on a treadmill at the gym) then you may find that listening to music or podcasts while you are running helps to take your mind off the weather and the distance outdoors (or indoors) that you still have to cover. It can turn a tough exercise session into a time when you look forward to listening to favourite tracks or new music, an audio book or a podcast on a subject of interest. Do be mindful of your safety, however, if you are running outdoors and wearing earphones - always make sure you can hear what is going on round about you.
When you think of taking up a new exercise regime, singing may not be the first thing that occurs to you. It is, however, a very good physical exercise and it has other health benefits as well. When engaged properly, the muscles used for singing help to strengthen your core and support better posture. This will help you to have less of the aches and pains which can arise from the poorer posture habits we tend to develop. Taking time to do some breathing exercises and sing after you have been sitting at a computer or other electronic device for a while, will encourage you to stretch out, engage muscles and re-align your posture. If you sing for any length of time you will soon find that you are working a range of muscles and, if you make singing a regular habit, you will start to feel the physical benefits of this.
Learning to take in good deep breaths, to support your voice, will strengthen your lungs and improve their capacity. Deeper breaths will also oxygenate the blood, which, in turn, will invigorate the brain, helping you to feel more alert and more able to tackle problem-solving activities.
Singing is good for your mental well-being too – it can help to lift your mood and, because it’s a pleasurable activity to do, it’s something you will find yourself looking forward to doing, meaning you are more likely to continue with it. You may even find that the treadmill looks more appealing after you’ve had a good sing!
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