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New Year, New Habits

It's hard to believe we're already five weeks strong into 2021, isn't it? While the day-to-day in lockdown can drag at times, it really feels like NYE was just yesterday.

January, for me, was the toughest month yet. I rarely get affected so heavily by the blues but I felt like a grey cloud was following me everywhere. I love being outdoors but the dull weather and constant rain just added to the sour mood - you couldn't step outside without getting drenched! I'm usually quite a peppy person so I decided to adopt some new habits into my routine with hopes that they would lift my spirits.

I used to be a New Year resolutions kind of gal but since my 2020 goals failed epically - thanks, Pandemic! - I decided to be a little looser with my aspirations so that I wouldn't beat myself up for not meeting them. Instead, I drew up a list of things I'd like to work on for the month of January and did my best to meet them on the daily. It was nothing revolutionary but it really helped.

I thought I'd share some of those things with you in case you too are looking for a little pick-me-up.

1- I made a promise to myself to move every day. Previously, I'd set unrealistic targets for exercise and feel guilty for not meeting them so the goal for January was simply to move in some way every single day. Taking off the pressure really allowed me to be proud of myself at the end of each day as I could genuinely celebrate those 6,000 steps on my lunch break instead of berating myself for not doing 100 squats before noon! Making my goal more realistic was so effective, I found myself outside almost every day for at least an hour and my total steps for the month were well over 350,000! My Apple watch has been a great motivator but the step count of my phone spurred me on on days when I forgot to charge it.

2- I have forever been terrible at moisturising my skin. In 2020 I finally got serious about using all sorts of gorgeous products on my face in a desperate attempt to maintain a youthful glow (I'm 32, it was about time!) but I was always much too lazy to bother with the rest. Putting on moisturiser after a shower felt like an ordeal and I hated the sticky feeling when I popped on my PJ's after. In Jan I bought a body lotion and made it my mission to spend a few minutes lathering it on in the evenings. My skin has thanked me hugely for it! I've since switched to CeraVe since and I find it's really working for me. I had always dismissed their products before because of the bland packaging but lesson learned - this stuff works a treat.

3- I love reading but sometimes get so consumed with work and life, I don't make enough time for it. I downloaded lots of feel-good books on my Kindle at the start of the month and whiled away the evenings reading contemporary romantic novels set in dreamy locations. I love to travel so it really helped feed my wanderlust somewhat! If you're looking for a recommendation, I really enjoyed The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren.

4- Journalling. I'll admit I only ever wrote in my diary sporadically until last month. Lately, though, I've been jotting my thoughts down almost daily and it's so lovely to get it all down on paper. Sometimes I'm surprised by what I read back as I'm not always aware of the weight of the worries/stresses I'm carrying. For the most part, I try to swat those niggling feelings away but it's been great to confront them and challenge them by writing them down. Sometimes I write just a few words, other times it's pages and pages, often its lists and sometimes it's just feelings. Give it a go. There are no set rules! Just put pen to paper and see what comes out.

5- I have a yoga app on my phone called Down Dog which I used a lot in 2020. I even purchased a year subscription I loved it so much! It's brilliant because you can customise your own yoga session from the style to the length of time to which parts of your body you want to focus most on. I used to do it three or four times a week and I felt great for my efforts but again, I had fallen off the bandwagon. I decided to embrace it again, this time focusing on restorative yoga before going to bed and I love, love, love it! The practice is so calming and I love sinking into the yummy poses. I usually do about 20 mins but I'm working on increasing the time to 30.

6- Lately, I've been feeling like there's a lot of unnecessary noise around me. Between never-ending Covid headlines, constant notifications and endless social media feeds, I felt like I was getting consumed by a sea of.... stuff. I found setting a timer on all my apps a really effective way to manage that feeling. At first I considered deleting my social media apps for a few weeks but that was never going to be a realistic option as I use them for work. I settled instead on a screen time setting and I've loved the peace it has brought to my world. If I really need to take a peek at a specific app, I can unblock it for a burst of one minute, 15 minutes or choose to unlock it for the day. I wouldn't say I was addicted to my phone - I can normally go hours without taking a peek at it - but lockdown amplified my need for connection with the world and I found myself reaching out for it every few minutes. Managing the amount of time I consume tech has worked wonders. Give it a go if you too are feeling a little bogged down!

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