07 January 2018

The To-Do List to Make 2018 Your Best Year Yet

Where the heck did 2017 even go? At the beginning of the year I was packing up my tiny country life and moving sticks to the big city of London and the next I'm shuffling onto the tube amongst the rest of the world heading back to work on January 2, 2018.

All I can really remember from 2017 is a big mashup of Brexit, Trump, Weinstein and golden girl, Meghan Markle! 

The one thing I haven't forgotten however is the traditional influx of January gaol-setting and tactically trying to dodge all the 'New Year, New Me' emotional posts broadcasted everywhere. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for trying to better oneself and find it incredibly admirable when I see people trying to do better, be better and ultimately feel better.

What does get my knickers in a twist however, is the global unspoken expectation that everyone must embrace these new year resolutions of radical change - be it your diet, fitness, social life, personality -when quite honestly, we're all pretty great as it is. It does get tiring every morning when I jog up the Chancery Lane tube stairs to come face to face with a poster sporting a scantily clad beach babe enjoying her 'Must-have January gym discount' at Gymbox and a mystery voice telling me to sign up today. Not only did I not ask for his opinion that I should get to the gym but I tend to find my daily trek up and down those tube stairs enough of a workout for my 5ft 1" self, thanks.

Instead of focusing so much on the physical things we have to change because society tells us we should, why not be radical and choose to just tune-up the areas of our lives that will give us a happier and more fulfilling life. Eating a clean and lean diet and getting limber at a hot yoga class are all important for good health but having a peachy ass isn't what will squeeze the overall goodness into your life.

Your lifestyle habits outside of the mirror are what will inject the vitality back into your life, from spending time on a hobby, getting adequate sleep, nurturing relationships and managing stress. 

Resolutions work for some but for most, it can wind up making us feel worse off as we fail to stick to what we preach. The fatal flaw is jumping in too deep with endless radical changes that are unrealistic.

Instead, I've decided to rename January as a month not known for damaging resolutions but positive intentions. I've put together some simple ideas that we can all put into practise as little or often as we like so that continual progress can lead to transformational habits. Whilst I can't guarantee that these will change your life, I can advocate that adding a few of these intentions into your daily routine will leave your 2018 feeling lighter, brighter, calmer and stronger. 

Let's make 2018 a year to flourish with a happier life, healthier mentality and rewarding memories...

Make your water bottle your new BFF

Keeping yourself sipping and hydrated is something a lot of people struggle with as with most house chores, it tends to fall into 'out of sight, out of mind'. Being hydrated not only keeps you alert, focused and awake but it does wonders to all the bits and bobs going on inside your body. A little trick that's helping me is placing my water bottle next to my bag and keys so that every morning as I'm getting ready to go, I fill up my bottle ready for the day - even if I'm not feeling thirsty in the moment. 

Go to bed earlier

Year after year we are told that we all fall short on getting the optimum amount of shut eye for good health and wellbeing. Running on lack of sleep not only makes you look a bit peaky but will leave you feeling run-down, anxious, impulsive and forgetful. Clocking the recommended 7-8 hours a night builds your foundations for digestive restoration, rebuilding your immune system leaving you in a better mood with increased productivity. Set yourself a goal of being in bed ready to turn out the lights by 10 0'clock for a week and see what difference it makes to your wellbeing. One week can turn into a month to several years until it becomes a lifelong habit. 

Keep a gratitude journal

With the hustle and bustle of life, daily struggles of managing wages, tax, rent and a social life, it's no wonder that many of us end up viewing life with the glass half full. Research continuously demonstrates how simply taking just 5 minutes a day to reflect on all the positive things that you're thankful for can help lower your stress levels, enhance your happiness and boost your sleep. Try keeping a small notebook and pen on your bedside table and jotting down the things you were grateful for that day. No matter how big or small, they all add up to make a big difference. 

Take more time to meditate

Now I'd love to say that I'm methodical in keeping up with my meditation practise but consistency is something I fall short on. There was a time that meditation was a daily habit of mine and it's no lie to say that at that time in my life, I was feeling the most calm, collected and motivated than I ever have. Mediation is often met with caution as being some spiritual claptrap but if like me, you strive to feel better equipped at tackling the day ahead, then try downloading a guided meditation app which you can work through at your own time and pace. 

Focus on the word digestion; not diet

Now I know it won't give you the pins of Beyonce and isn't as sexy as Davina's abs but digestion is the buzz word to feeling great and looking great. Although underrated, gut health has a lot to answer for in how you manage day-to-day in terms of your mood, how you feel and what you do. Bloated? Bunged up? Temperamental skin and cranky moods? Instead of jumping on the next diet bandwagon promising you to lose 2 stone by summer, take a look at your diet and aim to get a mix of colour - veggies, protein, healthy fats and carbs. Alongside this, try experimenting with adding in supplements to your diet like magnesium calcite and a live active probiotic. 

Talk to someone you care about every week

Checking in with family, seeing how your best friend is faring in her new place and going for drinks with the girls on Fridays can all get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list when your diary gets booked and busy. Try resifting your list of priorities and ensure you schedule in some time each week for someone you care about. It amongst these busy and stressful moments that we need all the support, love and laughter to keep balanced. Friendship and family need to be watered in order to flourish and keep nourished so each week, set aside a time for a coffee catchup with a friend or make that call to your mum that you've been meaning to make for a while now. 

Have technology detox everyday 

With a world that seems to exist on social media, I'm sure I'm not the only one that yearns to 'unplug' sometimes and just exist in the  here and now; the real world. Scrolling through your instagram feed, checking your emails from colleagues and updating your LinkedIn page  can become all-consuming and draining. Why not try scheduling a cut-off point in your day, like 7pm where all technology is put away and switched off so that the evening becomes what it would be - yours. Having a detox from media is not only restorative for your mental wellbeing but gives you the opportunity to reconnect with all the other things that make your life happy - whether that's curling up and reading a thriller, playing a board-game with your partner, whipping up a culinary masterpiece or simply soaking away your aches in a bubblebath - it's time to do more of it.  

Learn the basics

It's only when you stand on your own two feet and become an adult that you realise the importance of knowing how to actually live. Instead of rolling your eyes when you dad is trying to talk taxes with you, grab a pen and write down everything you need to know as when it comes to paying your first tax bill, you'll know what to look out for. Listening and learning how to build credit, how to sew on that button and how to cook your mum's famous cottage pie will be golden goods when you're older. How to get the perfect Instagram filter for your selfie or even how to get this season's eyebrow shape can be left to logging into the social media world.

What you love won't always be 'cool' and that's okay

The answer? Do it anyway. Do it even if your friends don't like it. Do it if your parents mutter and moan and do it even if your partner  mocks you for doing it. You're at your most authentic self when you're doing something that you love, something that makes you happy. The greatest gift in life is knowing what makes you tick and makes you smile and doing it despite adversity. It's time you do you for a change. 

Love, Sarah

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[Image credits: Pinterest, health, camillestyles]

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