Many people force themselves into making changes at the start of a new year, but is it the right time for you?
From my clinical experience and research evidence, success comes from being ready to make change. This may be right now at the start of a calendar year, or as my yoga teacher Cath @LittleYogaHut says, it may be better suited to the Spring (a time for new beginnings).
So when you feel that the time is right for you to consider ways to improve your health and well-being, this may involve changes to diet, becoming more active, making time for relaxation each day, and/or getting better sleep. Depending on how you are feeling right now, one of these areas may take priority and benefit from more changes.
Clients have shown that often the relaxation part is most forgotten and stress is the underlying reason for their ill health. If this resonates with you and you have been feeling better over the Holidays, consider factoring in 15 minutes each day of “Me time” for your return to work.
Relaxation comes in varying guises, from mindfulness to meditation, yoga to walking in the park; like diet there’s no “one size fits all” approach to suit everyone as we are all individuals, and it takes time to learn how to relax.
My top tip is try a form of relaxation that appeals to you and give yourself a chance to learn this new skill.
If you think that diet is your main area of focus, I’d suggest setting small achievable goals that are sustainable for the long-term. For example, try to make simple changes such as substituting sugary or caffeinated drinks for water or herbal tea, or gradually eating more portions of veg by having a vegetable soup with lunch and a side of salad/steamed veg with dinner.
My top tip is to change your eating behaviours for long enough that it becomes a habit (this may take a couple of months).
If you think lack of activity is undermining your health, start by trying to walk more each day, for example by parking further away or taking the stairs.
My top tip is to engage in a type of exercise that you find enjoyable and make it part of your weekly routine.
If sleep is the issue, try to improve your ‘sleep hygiene’ by switching off electronic devices an hour before bed or at least changes the screens to a night setting. Aim for 7-9 hours of rest.
My top tip is to establish a regular sleep-wake cycle by going to bed and getting up at a similar time every day.
So if you are feeling ready to change, work out where you would get the greatest reward (relaxation, diet, sleep, or activity), set a few simple achievable goals, give yourself time to create new habits and skills, check your progress at regular intervals (eg. every 6 weeks), and enjoy a new healthier you!
Joanne Jackson is a Cardiff-based nutritional therapist who has seen in clinic how diet and lifestyle directly impact upon energy, concentration, mood, and ability to handle day to day stress, and has developed nutrition programmes which gives people the knowledge and tools they need to look after their own health and wellbeing. She addresses common every day health concerns and offer simple and practical meal and snack suggestions to beat energy slumps, feel clear headed & focused, lose weight, boost mood and concentration, and safeguard your health.