By Theresa Ellsworth
Greeting the New Year with a list of resolutions has become a time-honoured tradition. Here are 10 for Singaporeans to consider as we welcome 2019 – with some tips on how to achieve them:
1. Cut the sweet talk
With some 430,000 Singaporeans between 18 and 69 years who are pre-diabetic, according to estimates by the Ministry of Health, a resolution to cut sugar would be an excellent place to start. Some simple steps include being aware of your sugar intake, asking for less sugar in treats like Chin Chow and kopi, or simply opting for fruit. Also keep an eye out for the Health Promotion Board’s “Lower in Sugar” or “No Sugar Added” signs at drinks stalls, and of course, watch your portion sizes.
2. Expand your horizons
Overwork can lead to stress, and stress, to health problems. Neuroscience offers a solution. People require downtime for their bodies to restore themselves, and one of the best ways to do this is to take a vacation. Make a resolution to travel beyond the little red dot this year. Apparently, even the act of planning a holiday can help ease stress. An added advantage: studies show that travel also boosts creativity, challenging your cognitive flexibility, integrativeness of thought, and ability to make deep connections.
3. Stub out
January 1 will see Orchard Road become a No Smoking Zone as part of Singapore’s goal to bring the smoking rate in the country to under 10 per cent by 2020. If you’re planning to stop smoking, this may be another good reason why. It’s also important to come up with a plan that works for you. List your reasons to quit smoking, know your triggers and make sure you have plenty of support – from a professional or family and friends. For some, Nicotine Replacement Therapy can help.
4. Clear out the clutter
Most of us will confess to having too much stuff. But needing to declutter and actually doing it are two completely different matters. Once you’ve resolved to do so, Japanese lifestyle guru Marie Kondo can help. A simple search will uncover tips to suit every hoarder level, and help you choose the items that truly “spark joy”. If you need another reason: the process of decluttering your physical space also helps organise the mind.
5. Dust off your sports shoes
This is something most of us have on our lists – to exercise more and get it. Challenge yourself to pedal along the 13 km cycling network in Bedok, or take part in fitness trends like group training, yoga, or high intensity interval training. For those looking for something more creative, Singapore has no lack of possibilities. From beer or dog yoga to surfing-inspired fitness, you should be able to get your exercise fix.
When a five-year-old needs to be treated for smartphone addiction, there is something seriously wrong. In Singapore, seven in 10 people are active social media users and it’s not unusual to catch a family or group of friends sitting together at restaurants, but completely disengaged. Make a resolution to reconnect in 2019. The adventurous can head to places with no WiFi. They may be hard to find in wired Singapore, but they’re out there. If the heart is willing, but you’re uncertain of your ability to stick to it, download an app that limits your connection to the Internet.
7. Protect yourself online
With crime rates up 3.2%, largely due to e-commerce scams, it’s important to stay safe online. In July this year, SingHealth experienced one of the worst data breaches to hit the country, exposing 1.5 million NRIC numbers in an instant. As 2018 comes to a close, think about changing your passwords, backing up your data, and patching your computer’s Operating System to reduce the risk of viruses. Also, remember to hold onto your personal information and avoid clicking on unknown emails and attachments.
8. Catch some zzzs
On World Sleep Day (March 16), Singaporeans woke up to the results of a global study showing that we catch the fewest hours of shut-eye. Reasons range from insomnia to stress, which causes disrupted sleep. Some tips that can help as you make sleep a priority in the New Year: have a regular sleep schedule, going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day; exercise regularly; and if you have trouble falling asleep, try yoga or meditation before bed. If you’re a coffee drinker, cutting back may help. Finally, don’t sleep in. Hitting the snooze button on the weekends makes it harder to fall asleep when bedtime comes around again.
9. Feed your brain
Check out the lifelong learning revolution, a movement that encourages continuous education and upskilling. Learning new skills could make you a more valuable employee in 2019 and keeps your brain active, too. The Internet also offers endless possibilities, from studying a new language to picking up a new skill.
10. Raise the stakes and tell someone
Finally, make it a point to share your New Year’s resolutions with someone. Data shows that sharing resolutions on Facebook makes you 37% more likely to stick to them. For those who find the idea of sharing resolutions online daunting, there are other ways to stay accountable. You could exchange resolutions with a friend, checking in with each other throughout the year to celebrate progress, and or to provide a nudge when necessary.