5 Habits to Make This January
Making habits that you can actually stick to can be hard enough, but making them in January, traditionally the toughest month of the year for many of us, can be near on impossible. This year though, instead of making lofty resolutions that you’re unlikely to keep to, why not start by making small but realistic goals instead that will not only improve your health and wellbeing in the short-term, but can have big consequences on your physical and mental health in the long-term too. If you’re serious about changing a pattern of behaviour and giving yourself a fighting chance, the first step is to decide you’re going to make it and figure out any steps you may need to take before you fully commit. If one of your goals is to start prioritising your sleep for example, which incidentally it should be, then it may be that you want to upgrade your pillow before you start committing to an earlier, more regular bedtime; in other words, whatever it is, ensure you know what you need to do before you actually take action and put your new plan into place. To make a habit stick long-term, checking in with yourself in small increments is a good idea, whether it’s being accountable to a friend or writing down your daily achievements in a calendar. Once you can visualise your progression, you are more likely to want to stay with it and see it through. Here are 5 new habits to try this month and beyond.
Improve the health of your gut
If you’ve never paid much attention to your gut health before but suffer from any digestive issues including discomfort, bloating, gas or constipation, then chances are it could do with a bit of a reboot. It’s not just physical symptoms which could indicate a compromised gut either, poor sleep habits and even low moods may be signs that you need to improve your gut health, such is the impact that it can have on the body as a whole. Interestingly, the gut manufactures many more neurotransmitters than the brain does. Around 80-90% of our serotonin is made in our guts, while every class of brain neurotransmitter has been found to exist there as well. When our digestion is sub-optimal, we can under-produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is linked to anxiety, depression and myriad other mental health issues. Stress, both temporary and long-term, can also hugely impact the health of the gut. When we’re stressed, our sympathetic nervous system gets triggered and our bodies divert energy away from the digestive system in order to deal with what it perceives to be the present threat. As a result, digestion slows right down and becomes sluggish. Food stays in our stomach longer which leads to gas, indigestion and bloating and even a disruption of the balance of gut bacteria. If you want to make your gut health a priority then why not add a dedicated supplement into your daily routine. Workshop’s Gut Cleansing Formula contains a blend of 12 soluble and insoluble fibres which promotes good digestion, optimum gut health and healthy, regular bowel movements.
Encourage a ‘move more’ approach
If you find yourself sitting at a desk all day, perhaps without a daily commute anymore, it can become all too easy to be more sedentary than you used to. To get yourself feeling your best again, make 2022 the year you aim to move more, whatever that looks like for you. Even walking up the stairs more than you do now, taking your calls while walking round the house or adding a post lunch walk into your routine can be positive additions – it doesn’t mean you need to do a HIIT workout every day or sign up for new gym classes. Not only can moving more keep you in good physical shape and reduce the likelihood of getting ill, but it can also significantly improve your mental health too.
Practise proper self-care
Although you might think you’ve got a handle on what self-care means, chances are what you consider to be a break away from stress – managing to take a shower in between looking after a baby or taking a break from WFH to tick those chores off your mental to-do list – aren’t really self-care practises at all. To understand what it really means, take the time to find out what nourishes you and makes you feel happy, calm and more relaxed. And while you might think of self-care as taking a bath or practising meditation, it can include nutrition, exercise or any forms of stress reduction that keep you feeling happy, healthy, and resilient. If you are able to identify what really makes your soul sing, the next challenge is to try and make it a regular thing; easier said than done when we often put ourselves right down the list of priorities or feel guilty about what we perceive to be an indulgence. To make it a habit that’s more likely to stick, schedule whatever it is into your day as you would a work call then don’t be apologetic about committing to it.
Clean up your diet
You might think your diet is pretty good but according to some research, one in five people in the UK eat a diet that consists of 80% processed foods. As well as being full of hidden calories, fats and sugars, processed foods can lead to a number of health problems as well as unwanted weight gain. If you’re eating more processed food than you’d like, rather than go cold turkey, reduce the amount you do eat slowly which is a more manageable and realistic approach. When it comes to cutting down on the amount of sugar in your diet, it’s trickier than you might think. Apart from the obvious sources like fizzy drinks, juices and cakes, sugar is also found in unexpected places like dairy products and sauces. And even thought you might think of bad sugar as being white, unrefined sugar, it comes in all guises, including so-called healthier sugars such as maple syrup and agave syrup. To get into the habit of cutting down, or back altogether, it’s worth studying your food labels more closely and eating whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. One way to fill yourself up and steer clear of the temptation to snack on sugary foods is by adding more protein to your diet. Most adults need around 0.75g of protein per kilo of body weight per day (for the average woman, this is 45g, or 55g for men), which is roughly about two portions of meat, fish, nuts or tofu per day. As well as being vital for supporting the immune system and producing collagen and keratin which contribute to stronger hair, skin and nails, protein reduces your level of the hunger hormone ghrelin, helping you feel fuller for longer. Workshop’s Organic Vanilla Pea Protein Formula is a great addition to have on hand to add quickly to smoothies, shakes and a variety of other healthy snacks. To make this habit stick, consider planning your meals in advance. Not only will it help you stay on track with eating better, but it’ll also probably save you money too as you’re only buying what you need.
Reduce your screen time
Easier said than done when more of us than ever are working from home and the lines between work and play are increasingly blurred, but reducing your screen time and your exposure to blue light from your various devices is important for many reasons. As well as improving your sleep (blue light inhibits the production of melatonin which we need for a healthy sleep cycle), limiting screen time is good news for the health of your eyes and your skin. Depending on how you use your devices, it could also help to improve any tension you may be carrying, including neck pain and muscular stiffness. If you find it hard to get into the habit of stepping away from your screen, start small by taking sight breaks every 20 minutes or so. For best effect you also want to switch up your field of vision, so as well as moving your focus away from a narrow field of vision ie. your screen, you should also move to panoramic vision. The easiest way to do this is look outside to the horizon and take in as much of a view as you can. Not only is it good for your eyesight, but it’ll also help stave off any fogginess that you often get after spending too long in front of a screen.