January 6th, 2021 by
If the past year has taught us anything it’s that what’s really important to us are things like friends, family, physical health, mental health, and safety. While we have some hope that 2021 offers light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel, it would be a shame and a wasted opportunity to not take these lessons from 2020. Self-care is so important so here are 5 tips to focusing on your physical and mental well-being in 2021:
1. Tidy home, tidy mind
Studies have shown close links between cluttered environments and stress. An untidy living space is often not the root cause of negative feelings on its own, but it can amplify the stress of the day when you just want to relax. Telling people to tidy up isn’t particularly helpful but there are a couple of methods that make it a manageable task and could work for you:
Timed tidying: focus on a particular section of your home (or car, or office etc). This could just be one corner of the room. Take a photo and then set a timer for 20 minutes. Use that 20 minutes to get rid of the rubbish, remove stuff that should be elsewhere, and tidy what remains. When the timer sounds, take another photo. Comparing ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos can give you a real sense of accomplishment and 20 minutes of tidying is not overwhelming.
The bag method: take a carrier bag into a room and walk around the room, picking up rubbish only and putting it in the bag. Put this in the bin. Then take a bag and only fill it with things that need removing from that room and taking to a different room. You should then only be left with items that belong in that room. The idea is that you focus on one thing at a time instead of trying to multi-task, which often just means doing lots of things badly. You can also take a break between bags to further demarcate the tasks.
2. Get better quality sleep
We all know that sleep is hugely important to both our physical and mental health. It may not be that we need more sleep, just better quality sleep.
Disrupted sleep can prevent you getting enough of the deep sleep your body needs. It can also lead to increased levels of ghrelin, the hormone that tells us we’re hungry, and reduced leptin, the ‘stop eating’ hormone. This can lead to overeating, or craving more high-carb, high-calorie foods so poor sleep can actually make us fat! Try the following to help you improve the quality of your sleep:
Avoid late activities: eating late, working late, late nights out, and late night TV can all make it harder to get to sleep or make sleep fitful. Start to unwind well in advance of going to bed. Reduce stimulation before bedtime so maybe swap the screen for a book and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Late nights out may have been few and far between this year but try not to get back into the habit of doing this regularly once things return to somewhere approaching normality.
Prepare your bed: prepare your bed an hour or so before you want to retire for the night. If you have an electric blanket, turn it on to allow it to warm the bed, light a scented candle or warm a scented wax melt, turn on a soft lamp and make sure all ‘housekeeping’ such as setting your alarm and even cleaning your teeth has been done. Then spend the next hour winding down. When you come to bed, you will have created the perfect environment for sleep.
3. Incorporate mindful exercise
Physical health and mental health are intrinsically linked. We all know that we should be incorporating both exercise and mindfulness into our lives, but this can be hard to do when we’re busy. There are, however, ways to tick both boxes. Activities like swimming and walking both keep us physically active but are gentle enough to allow us thinking time which can be incredibly useful to process things that are happening in our lives. Studies have shown that regular gentle exercise such as walking could regulate blood flow to the parts of the brain associated with memory, cognition, and language so a daily stroll can make you more intelligent!
4. Note a daily ‘yay’
We have all had to appreciate the small things in 2020 so take that into 2021. Buy a diary and note a ‘yay’ every day, ie write down something that you appreciated that day. This could be anything from getting a compliment from a colleague or having a nice sandwich at lunch. This helps you to find a positive every day and see the value in small things. It can also make you more mindful about injecting some ‘yay’ into other people’s days.
You can use a note app on your phone, however evidence suggests that physically writing something down can be cathartic and comforting, plus it gives you a break from a screen.
5. Make time for friends
We’re all feeling socially deprived this year and friendships are so important to our mental well-being. Whether it’s laughing, sharing problems, or participating in hobbies and activities, it’s often our friends who keep us sane. It can be easy to become self-absorbed in our busy lives so just take some time every week to touch base with friends, whether it be via a message or zoom, or in person (should such a thing be possible again!) and put the effort in. The time you put in will be reaped in spades with the support network that you build around you.
Leave a reply
Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required