WITH the New Year upon us and thoughts of a fresh start in the minds of many, it can be easy to get carried away with the idea of a massive change, only to feel disheartened when you aren’t able to realise your goals immediately.

However, by setting achievable and focused aims, within a sensible time frame, I believe you may be able to avoid that sinking feeling a few months down the line when you discover you’ve set the bar too high.

Here, I share a few ideas that I hope will help you to embrace sustained change while not living a life of abstinence.

A MONTH without alcohol isn’t a bad place to start, especially for those who have had a particularly hectic social schedule over the festive period.

It has been demonstrated that many who took part in previous initiatives including Sober for October also had a much healthier relationship with alcohol after the end of the month.

EXERCISE is often high on the list of New Year’s resolutions. The British Heart Foundation recommend 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five times a week, but remember that simple changes like walking short distances rather than taking the bus or car will soon have you hitting your target.

EATING in is the new going out, yet with a vast array of diet plans it can be confusing to know where to even start.

However the standard advice is still a balanced diet, high in fruit and vegetables, with the avoidance of excessive amounts of processed foods.

Treats and cheat days can and should be incorporated into this, without a feeling of guilt.

GOOD mental health can often be difficult to maintain. Try to surround yourself with positive people who share the same outlook as you, and spend less time with those who leave you feeling fed up or exhausted.

If a relationship, job or indeed anything in your life is getting you down, it may be time to face up to this and ask yourself the following question: “Am I happy to continue like this, or is it time for a change?”

GETTING enough rest is vitally important, with the effects of sleep deprivation apparent even after one restless night.

It is as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise, with the recommended daily amount being between seven and a half to eight hours of good quality sleep per night.

NO health article would be complete without advice on smoking, so if you are thinking of quitting, there is no better time than the present. Both your body and your wallet will thank you for it.

FINALLY, try something new. From travel to learning a new language or picking up a new hobby, the body and mind thrive on change and fresh stimulation.

Broadening your horizons is linked with an improved outlook on life in general, and you may also get to meet different people and develop new friendships.