Where Christmas is concerned there are roughly two types of people. One group looks on it as a challenge to be overcome and the

winter wonderlandother as a non-stop party to be enjoyed. Then New Year comes with its list of resolutions, or the resolution not to make a resolution. Then the festivities end and the short, cold days and longer, colder nights drag on.

For many people this is the hardest part of winter – the hardest part of the year. Fortunately there are ways of making the slog to spring more bearable, maybe even enjoyable, and in Consett, there are plenty of options are on your doorstep. As an added bonus, many of the most popular resolutions can actually make you feel better – provided that you go about them the right way.

Be Sensible About Slimming

Consett slimmer Annette Telford was recently named “Miss Slinky” after shedding four-and-a-half stone with the help of her local slimming group. While few people need to go that far, losing weight is often high on people’s agendas, especially after all the calorie-packed foods and drinks consumed at Christmas (and often finished off afterwards). It’s worth remembering however, that although you can start a diet at any time of year, winter is a particularly challenging time to do it as your body genuinely needs fuel to cope with the low temperatures. This means that some foods, while healthy in themselves, are unlikely to be ideal for this time of year. Salads are a typical example of this. If you feel like you need to lose a significant amount of weight then seeing a GP or joining a local slimming group may be appropriate, otherwise cutting out junk food (and alcohol) and increasing exercise may be a better way to go.

Coping With Cravings

Many other popular New Year’s resolutions involve getting to grips with bad habits, smoking being a perennial favourite. Other people may have decided that this will finally be the year they get to grips with more serious issues. Often people decide to deal with their addiction at the start of the New Year and those who have given up may be over the initial rush and looking for ways to keep themselves motivated, while those who’ve been procrastinating will quite likely be wavering between taking the first steps and forgetting the whole thing.

For more minor issues, distraction is often the key. Avoid getting into situations where you know you’re likely to feel tempted to give in to your craving. This can be a tussle and can leave some people feeling like Mr Bean in the cinema, when everything he wanted to do was not allowed.  While this was hilarious viewing, it’s less fun in real life.  If you do feel your addiction coming to bite you, find something else to do immediately. There is a reason why many people giving up smoking keep lots of healthy snacks near them. For those who need a greater level of assistance, whether it’s to give up smoking or to deal with a more serious form of addiction, help is available. There are NHS options but some people may prefer to look at a private recovery programme for speed of acceptance and convenience or the quality of the accommodation and other facilities.

Being Virtuous About Volunteering

While Christmas is often the time when many people think seriously about volunteering, charities often have vastly more volunteers than they need at this time. The rest of the year, however, many of them actively welcome new volunteers. There are a huge variety of organisations to choose from, you could be part of a local radio station or join in local fund-raising efforts for a national appeal such as Children in Need or Red Nose Day to name but two.  Consett hosts local branches of charitable organizations such as The Rotary, The Royal British Legion and the YMCA.

There are also local sporting organizations such as Consett RFC Rugby Union Club, which rely on volunteer help.  Whatever your interests, there’s sure to be an organisation to match them and there is now scope for online volunteering. While some organisations require a time commitment, in some cases this can be as little as a few hours a month and increasingly organisations offer either informal or formal training and references, so it can be a great way to boost a CV – in a good cause. It can also be a great way to meet new people. Volunteering often finds its way onto lists of New Year’s resolutions and, like many resolutions, often slips off it again. In fairness, there’s little point in signing up to volunteer just because you feel you have to, but there are so many options available, it’s well worth at least having a look at them!

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