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How your good intentions for 2022 can succeed!

How your good intentions for 2022 can succeed!

Less stress, more time with family and friends, more sport, healthier food. Every third person starts the new year with good intentions. Even if good intentions are sometimes difficult to achieve, Prof. Dr Christoph Wanner, President of the European Renal Association and Head of Nephrology at the University Hospital of Würzburg (Germany), considers them immensely important: “Good intentions can be an effective incentive for positive behavioural changes that significantly improve our quality of life in the long run. Above all, our hearts and kidneys will benefit from a healthier lifestyle. With a normal weight and good blood pressure, as well as regular exercise, plenty of fruit and vegetables and little salt and sugar, we can significantly reduce our risk of kidney failure and numerous other diseases.”

If we don’t want to fail within the first metres of our journey towards a healthier lifestyle, we have to clarify which resolution has priority and whether we really want to achieve it and why. Why pay attention to weight? Why less stress? Head and gut must work together, and in a goal-oriented way. That’s why it’s important to be realistic and focus on a specific intention. Psychologists compare our brains to a computer: if too many programmes and browsers are open, things get bogged down.

Try to avoid everything that is unimportant in your life and write down your new resolution as detailed as possible. Writing it down might be an extra motivation for your brain. To ‘convince’ our brain that we are serious, we should link our intention to positive images and emotions. Let’s imagine what it would be like to exercise regularly or to eat healthily. How does that feel?

According to a Swedish study*, formulating resolutions is very important. Instead of setting avoidance goals, one should set achievement goals and talk about them with friends. For example, if you want to lose weight, instead of saying “I will eat fewer sweets”, you should say “I will eat fruit and vegetables several times a day”. In this way, you replace unpleasant behaviour that is difficult to change anyway.

To gradually achieve your goal, it could also be helpful to have a clear action plan that is weekly adjusted. Just be realistic and don’t overload it. One action a day is often enough.

Just be patient and try to follow your schedule as much as possible! Don’t be disappointed if, after some quick progress at the beginning, the results suddenly stagnate. The new programme should first be installed in your head, the new learning processes have to consolidate. Just don’t give up now. It pays off to persevere!