Top Tips for Improving your Body and Mind this New Year

Wednesday 23 January, 2019 Mental Health

‘New Year, New Me’ or so we say… There is no denying that we are all guilty of over indulging, especially over the Christmas period and the January blues hit even harder when you find that your work trousers are a little bit more snug than they were before the holidays. We all tend to start the New Year with good intentions, to ‘lose weight’, ‘eat better’, ‘exercise more’. Often these turn out to be nothing more than a list of ambitious bullet points scrawled in our 2019 journal (nothing like a new journal to truly make us feel like we have our lives in check, eh?). Why not make 2019 the year that you stick with your resolutions? We have come up with some tips to help you feel better both physically and mentally this new year.

Dry January

Given the festive celebrations most of us are happy enough to take part in, this is an attempt to recover from the Christmas hangover and involves giving up alcohol for the month of January.

Giving up alcohol for one whole month comes with many benefits to your health and lifestyle including:

  • Better sleep
  • Your skin improves
  • You lose weight
  • More money in your pocket (the average person in the UK spends approximately £50,000 on alcohol in their lifetime) You can read more about the rising cost of alcohol here.

Alongside these benefits, there are also long-term benefits associated with ditching booze. Alcohol is the biggest cause of death in the UK for people aged 15-49, cutting back on alcohol can reduce the risk of developing many illnesses, such as liver disease, cancer, high blood pressure and depression.

Let's Get Physical

Exercise is one of the best ways to boost your mood and to help manage your weight. When you exercise your brain releases chemicals such as endorphins which improve your mood. Regular exercise can reduce stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

In addition to this, the physical health benefits related to regular exercise are substantial! The NHS state that adults should aim to be active every day and aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity over the period of a week. Physical activity can be anything that gets your blood pumping, a brisk walk, cycling, swimming, dancing, you name it! All of these things can reduce your risk of developing many diseases;

  • Up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Up to a 30% lower risk of dementia
  • Up to a 30% lower risk of depression

Let the New Year be your motivation to pick up a new hobby. To keep things exciting each new month you could try something new, Couch to 5K, gym instead of gin, let this be a lifestyle change as opposed to empty resolutions.

Eat Well

Healthy eating and exercise go hand in hand so use this time to slowly wean yourself off the boxes of biscuits and tins of sweets that pack your cupboards over Christmas and start experimenting with some healthy new recipes. Healthy foods and a balanced diet are key!

Base your meals on starchy carbs

These should make up over one third of what you eat and include foods such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals.

Eat plenty of fruit & veg

It is recommended that we eat five portions of fruit & veg every day

Eat more fish

Fish is a good source of protein and contains many vitamins and minerals. Aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week – haddock, cod, tuna, salmon, mackerel, trout.

Cut down on saturated fat

The average man should have no more than 30g of saturated fat a day, women no more than 20g and children less. Saturated fat is found in butter, cakes, hard cheese etc.

Cut down on sugar

Sugar should be consumed in small amounts, we should cut down on fizzy drinks, sweets and alcoholic drinks. Natural sugar found in fruit is much better.

Eat less salt

Adults should consume no more than 6g a day.

Don’t get thirsty

It is recommended that we consume 6-8 glasses of water every day.

Don’t skip breakfast

A healthy breakfast, such as a wholegrain, low sugar cereal with fruit is important for a balanced diet and provides some of the vitamins and minerals we need for good health.

Sleep Well

Zzz is so important, without it we literally couldn’t survive. Most people need on average around 8 hours a night, some people need more(me) and others need less. A lack of sleep leaves you feeling sluggish, irritable and longing for that moment you’ll reunite with your bed after that 9-5 graft…ah bliss.

There are many benefits that come from getting the recommended amount of sleep;

  • Sleep boosts your immune system meaning you are better able to fight off nasty colds and flus.
  • Sleep can help with weight loss, studies have shown that those who sleep less than 7 hours a day tend to gain more weight and have a higher risk of becoming obese.
  • Sleep boosts your mental well being - getting more sleep can help avoid chronic sleep debt which may lead to long-term mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
  • Sleep can even help to prevent heart disease and diabetes.

So basically, sleep is life and the moral of this story is that we shouldn’t be forced out of bed any time before 9am, you know, for all the health benefits and that…

Let this New Year be a time for positive change, do things that will benefit both your physical and mental wellbeing. Take time to relax and do things that you enjoy when you can, be kind to you.

Happy New Year!