What a challenging year for many of us. As it has drawn to a close its time to look forward and also left to right. Although, it is hard to make long term goals due to the uncertainty and unpredictable nature of a global pandemic, we can commit ourselves to making small changes for improved mental and physical well-being. Take a look at our 5 tips that are good for the soul.
Declutter your space
As we are spending that extra time at home recently, it is more important for your living space to be as clear and straight forward to clean. You may find you have accumulated more items during the lockdown ie board games, baking goods etc that you need to make space for.
Start by breaking down your early spring cleaning into manageable chunks and make a plan so you remember spaces that are usually forgotten like the hallway or even the fridge and under the stairs. Use the golden rule of thumb to start clearing out all the junk- Does it have sentimental value or a use? If not its time to get rid.
Be responsible with your clearing. Don’t dump things outside your local charity shop as they will not be able to use it and will have to pay the council to remove it.Research timings of when they will be open or start selling/donating on online apps and websites eg Vinted, Ebay, Olia or Recycling for good causes UK.
Focus on mental health
One of the silver linings that has arisen from the pandemic is that society is kinder and has made it almost “normal” for the need to access mental healthcare. Getting a pet to combat loneliness and find some companionship or even accessing professional help would be great for every one right now and is something that should be considered no matter what you are going through. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a stranger at this moment start slow and use an app such as Headspace, Rewi or Silvercloud.
Less screen time and more me time is a must! Numerous studies have highlighted the link between social media and depression. Stop comparing yourself to others you see on social media who may be flaunting their great career or amazing relationships especially if you have just been made redundant or going through a break up. These pictures are just a snapshot of peoples lives and they may be facing a difficulty behind the lens same as yourself. Its ok to hit a few unexpected bumps along the road! Embrace your own life experience.
Most importantly- Be kind to yourself! Take some me time out of your busy week or day and do something important to you. At the end of the day/week, write down something you did that you are proud of, thankful for or achieved, or just jot something down that will relieve the burden in your head.
It sounds easy but most of us underestimate the power of breath work on our mental/physical state. When you feel anxious inhale deeply in through your nose and exhale out with your mouth using a long sigh, a shout or a hiss. You will be physically removing the anxiety from your body using sound!
Build up gradually, there are many beginner exercises to start off with and you can use them at various points throughout the day at peak stress levels or when you just want to wind down. Try it again every few days and then repeat.
Move your body more
The year of 2020 was the year of working from home and virtual meetings with your top half looking presentable and your bottom half in underpants and one sock on. Don’t let being chained to your makeshift dining table/desk be an excuse to be inactive. Try some desk exercise or simple stretches. For example, a simple hamstring stretch: Remaining seated, extend one leg outward. Reach toward your toes. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Make sure to get some fresh air and a change of environment for at least one hour of the day to boost productivity and mood.
Try not to let closure of gyms be a reason not to get fit! Equip yourself with some basics at home ie gym mat, resistance bands, light kettle bells/dumb bells so you are ready and raring to go with some online exercises using apps such as Fitness buddy and My Fitness Pal.Check out the Bob and Brad channel on YouTube for exercise for all ages including seniors and people prone to injuries.
Turn your housework into work outs- Plug your headphones in whilst hoovering to encourage more movement and turn your chore into a dance exercise. Do some lunges whilst taking the washing out and put your laundry basket upstairs to increase steps. Use your flour or sugar bags as weights and fit in some arm exercises whilst cooking. Be sure to record your weight or take weekly pictures so you can track your progress.
Eat and use clean
It is common for people to turn to veganism/ vegetarianism at this time of year as the aim to improve their personal health and adopt a more planet friendly diet. However, most feel it is hard to maintain after a month. Instead of making overnight drastic changes, try to incorporate more veggies and fruits into every meal- For example adding spinach to pasta, eggs, and sandwiches. Begin freezing fruit to increase shelf life so you can incorporate it into smoothies. Switch to an alternative milk in your tea/coffee. The key is to make smaller gradual changes that are easier to manage.
Remember to eat clean and whole foods rather than refined and overly processed foods. You may find your typical vegan snack to be sugar laden and higher in fats compared to a non vegan alternative. Following a vegan diet does not automatically make you healthy- If the ingredients are unrecognisable, try to make a suitable alternative. You can keep some healthier snacks nearby for when you get the munchies, for example some dry fruits or nuts in your glove compartment or in your desk drawer.
Slowly use more body and environmentally friendly products. Coconut oil is highly versatile and can be applied as a moisturiser for hair and skin and nails aswell as being a good fat for cooking too.