Happy New Year, I hope 2024 brings you everything good that you wish for. This is of course the time when many people will have made their New Year resolutions.

Some of you may have broken them already, if so don’t worry, we’re only just into January.

Some of you may have flung yourselves straight into their ‘New-Selves’ and be doing their best to stick to a plan of action.

I do a lot of work with the human mind, and I understand a great deal about habits, good or bad, and how they are formed.

There are some things we do automatically, without thinking about them first, such as which leg you put into your jeans first when getting dressed.

Automatically scrolling through our phones the minute we sit down on the bus is another thing we might do without thinking first.

It takes anything from three weeks to around three months to develop a new habit or to get rid of an unwanted one.

This is one of the reasons so many people decide to quit their New Year resolutions by the end of February, things such as going to the gym four times a week, doing a walk every day.

It is also why many people ‘fall off the wagon’ in terms of quitting something such as excessive drinking, sugary snacks etc.

Quite simply they have not given themselves enough time to establish their new regime and allow it to become something they do automatically.

In general for up to the first three months, our minds will be trying to pull us back into our old and unwanted habits, it is part of our mind preferring what it already knows, its comfort zone.

It is these sub-conscious urges that need to be changed so that you develop a new habit or a replacement for a bad one.

The situation can be further confused when people try to make too many changes at once such as stopping smoking and losing weight at the same time. Oh so frequently, they will not succeed at either.

What we say to ourselves is really important, the more we say something to ourselves the more we believe it.

My journey into becoming a therapist started by shedding nine stone in weight, so here’s my favourite tip for you if you have decided to lose some weight this year.

As humans, we don’t like losing anything, we are not programmed that way. We are programmed to hunt and gather, and to acquire. Don’t think of it as losing weight, think of it as gaining!

Gaining a better figure, gaining better health, gaining whatever benefits there are, to the decision you have made. Tell this to yourself repeatedly, especially when you get the urge to eat something you want to avoid - it makes a difference.

If you feel you are in a mental health crisis please visit your GP or A&E or call the Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258.

Martin Furber is a therapist qualified in various modalities and an Instructor Member of Mental Health First Aid England wellbeing@martinfurber.com