New Year, New You
With lockdown 3.0 announced, in the UK at least, January will be harder than ever for many of us. That doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t start the year on the right foot. If there is any silver lining to come out of our current situation, it is that it can enable us to focus on ourselves more closely. Below are our tips to have a productive 2021, not just for this month, but for the rest of the year and beyond.
1. Set Goals
Where do you see yourself in a year? Look at the bigger picture, decide on 5 main goals and write them down. However, importantly they need to follow 3 main rules: achievable, time-bound and measurable. Let’s be honest most of us aren’t going to be multi-millionaires or popstars by the end of the year. Make yourself accountable for these goals by sharing your aims with a supportive friend or family member.
Chris Sparks’ ‘Forcing Function’ system is a fantastic way to help you dive deeper into setting realistic and quantifiable goals and forming relevant habits in reaching those goals. He has a free workbook that you can download here by scrolling to the bottom of the page.
2. Form Habits
Habits help us keep our lives on track. Scientists debate how long it takes to make or break habits but they agree that consistency is key, so start simple. Write a list of achievable tasks for the week every Sunday evening to make those dreary Mondays more manageable. Ticking these things off will keep you optimistic about your ongoing goals.
More specifically, making your bed and opening the curtains every morning is an easy task that ensures a brighter start to the day. Reading for 20 minutes before bed instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media will help you get those eight hours of sleep. This and keeping a consistent bedtime will help you to get in-sync with your natural circadian rhythm, fundamental for a refreshed and sharp mind. Matthew Walker’s eye-opening book on this topic, ‘Why We Sleep’, is one to read this year.
Meditation is a spiritual experience that not only helps your focus but has scientifically proven positive effects on your mental health. If you unfailingly take a short period of time out of your day to practice meditation and pay attention to the natural flow of your breath, you will notice a difference in your quality of life. We suggest adding this onto the end of a morning yoga session having released all that tension in your body. Lots of mindfulness-based programs are modelled on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s study but to start simple the ‘Headspace’ app provides you with a variety of techniques to investigate for yourself.
3. Get Outside
You have probably seen the hundreds of people who descend on the park to exercise on the first of January. Fear not! Most of their enthusiasm will wane by February. We are not telling you to suddenly become a fitness guru but getting some fresh air is the best way to de-stress.
Setting a daily step goal for yourself, 10000 being the suggested number, is an admirable way to start. However, when you’re feeling bolder running is a fantastic way to clear your head and help you sleep. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner, programs such as ‘Couch to 5k’ (easily downloadable on the App Store) progressively build up not only your stamina but also your confidence. You should whack on your favourite podcast or playlist; trust us it always helps with motivation.
4. Healthy Choices
We all have those friends who will get to the end of the month and boast about how they have completed both Veganuary and Dry January. Whilst this is a great achievement for them, some of us are not as good at making such momentous changes.
Instead of Veganuary, try gradually swapping out some of your usual foods for a healthier alternative. Rather than eating meat 5 days a week, why not reduce this to 1? An enjoyable, and covid-friendly, way to incorporate these changes into your diet is to cook exciting new recipes. Substitute scrambled eggs with scrambled tofu or if this isn’t quite your breakfast of dreams there are some great recipes for vegan protein pancakes. These undaunting swaps and increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables will fuel your body and provide you with indispensable vitamins and minerals.
We’re firm believers in everything in moderation. Instead of cutting out alcohol altogether, drink less and better. Pale Fox is 100% plant-based, low sugar and the low levels of sulphites prevent you from such a bad headache the next day.
5. Enjoy Yourself
In current times working from the kitchen table can make your job seem like your entire life. Remember to have fun and relax – everyone has unproductive days. Whilst right now this might not involve heading down to a bar with your friends, facetime them regularly. As we enter our third nationwide lockdown maybe avoid yet another zoom quiz but you could all have a catchup over the same drink. If you dread that we recommend taking up something creative, an adult paint-by-numbers is fun but calming. Besides activities, nobody is going to judge if you buy yourself the occasional treat online.