One of the reasons for this is in the very nature of a New Year's resolution - it only comes around once every 365 days, so people tend to set big unrealistic goals and when they fall off the wagon become discouraged and default to their old behavior patterns. Health experts agree that a better approach is to break goals down into smaller steps that can be achieved over shorter periods of time.
That's where Monday comes in. Research indicates that Monday is like a mini-New Year's - it's the day people are most likely to start diets, go to the gym, quit smoking and schedule doctor's appointments. And new research published in JAMA Internal Medicine found the same Monday "surge" in Google searches for quitting smoking in 6 languages, which totaled 8 million more people a year seeking health information on Mondays than other days.
The Monday Campaigns (www.mondaycampaigns.org), a nonprofit initiative associated with leading public health schools, is dedicated to leveraging this predisposition towards health at the beginning of the week to help people sustain healthy behavior all year long. We offer tools and resources to help people break their goals into small, more manageable steps, like going meatless on Monday or doing a Monday Mile. We also offer programs at schools, home, work and communities which encourage people to join together each week to make Monday the "day all health breaks loose!".
Our staff will contribute a series of "Monday Motivator" articles on Health News Digest throughout 2014. To get you started here are 5 tips that leverage the power of Monday for achieving your health goals:
1. Break Your New Year's Resolutions Down into Specific, Attainable Goals
It's great to have long term health goals in mind, but it's important to break those big goals up into more manageable "bite size" pieces and work to build on each piece over time. Setting specific, attainable goals each week will prove more effective than making vague promises to "eat healthier" or "exercise more."
2. Do a Monday Check-in
Planning is critical to success. Take a few minutes every Monday to assess the progress you made over the previous week and make a plan for the upcoming week. Write your healthy activities into your calendar just as you would with other engagements.
3. Use the Monday Buddy System
At the beginning of each week, seek encouragement from those with similar goals. Check in with family, coworkers, or an organized support group-whatever works for you. Take the time to collectively celebrate past successes and talk about your goals for the future. Don't forget to discuss common problems or deterrents, like hectic schedules and holiday parties. Fostering a system of support and accountability provides the motivation you need to stick to your plan and achieve your weekly targets.
4. Pick a Monday Ritual
Resolving to walk a Monday Mile or eat Meatless every Monday isn't just a fantastic way to squeeze in one more chance at better health; it can also provide context for sticking with some of your other healthy habits. Make your Monday activity a standing engagement with family, friends or coworkers. Then, use that time to not only get you one step closer to your health goal, but also check in with your support partners, chat about other healthy opportunities in your community, and plan to reconnect during the week to help you keep up the good work.
5. If at first you don't succeed, try try again on Monday.
The most important thing to remember is to not let the occasional slip-up become the reason your resolution fails. Regardless of how poorly you stuck to your plan last week, you can still determine the success of your current week-that's the beauty of a regular check-in. Allowing yourself a clean slate every Monday provides a renewable opportunity to pursue your goals.
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