As we start the New Year, I’ve considered some habits, some old some new, that I want to introduce to 2019 to make it a healthy and prosperous new year.
Destress and Practice Mindfulness
The first one is to de-stress. This one is inspired by a podcast I listened to this by the Food Medic with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee. Chatterjee talks about plenty of interesting distressing tactics, one was to introduce a healthy morning routine with the 3 M’s- Meditation, Movement, Mindset. He suggests putting your phone on airplane mode, and playing a meditation app on your phone (I use an app called Zenfie) for around 10 mins. Then either doing some yoga stretches, maybe just a simple downward dog, or even just touching your toes in the morning. Then, read a small exert of a positive book, if youre not reading anything you can do some affirmations. Try ‘I am calm, I am happy, I am stress free’. Chatterjee says that as futile as it sounds, you can expect to see a change in your stress levels throughout the day.
Cut the Sugar
As a lot of you already know, a couple of months ago back in August I was pointed towards a dairy, yeast and sugar free diet. It completely changed the way I think about food. Chatterjee suggested that you think of food as information, as the gut and the brain are directly linked with each other. There is research that links anxiety and depression with excess sugar intake. My mood was so much more stable and consistent when I cut the sugar. To put it plainly sugar is just awful. It causes weight gain and can lead to diabetes, it also causes acne, heart disease, high blood pressure, poor joint health. I won’t turn this into a rant but if you’re having more then 30g of sugar a day then you have a higher chance of developing any of those problems. When you put it like that its pretty simple right? That being said it’s so difficult to cut out sugar because we crave it so much. My advice this year is to stock up on really yummy treats that aren’t full of sugar, my favourite is Lindt 85% Dark Chocolate that has something like 11g of sugar in the entire bar. You can also get Lizi’s Organic Granola that has 12.9g of sugar per 100g with some mixed frozen berries which makes a devious breakfast or snack. These healthy alternative can be saved as emergency reserves when that sugar craving creeps in and you just have to cave. That is much better then having a craving and running to the shops for a bar of Cadburys that has a STAGGERING 56g of sugar per 100g. You will not believe yourself after 2 weeks of a low sugar diet. After letting myself go over the Christmas time (and let me tell you I feel crap for it) I cant wait to get back to my low sugar diet in 2019.
Cut the Dairy
There is literally no excuse not to have nut milk alternatives to dairy these days. There are soo many tasty options, I’ve recently been LOVING coconut milk with my porridge and in coffee. It’s so delicious. The lady who I saw, who suggested the particular diet I went on, said that pretty much every single patient she sees can improve symptoms (that range from low mood, asthma, eczema, migraines, IBS and any sort of stomach problem) by going on a sugar and dairy free diet. Those of you thinking about all the health benefits of dairy, I hear you. Calcium is good for you, dairy not so much. Cows milk is literally made FOR calfs who have four stomachs and NEED to gain a hell of a lot of weight to grow into an adult cow. I will trying to cut dairy where possible this year, even if thats just one day a week.
Go Vegan One Day A Week
Speaking of which, another thing I will try to achieve this year is to go vegan one day a week. I really enjoy veggie alternatives and considering I cut most dairy out anyway, so I don’t think it’ll be that much of a challenge. My favourite vegan recipes involve chickpea curry, and black bean mince. The vegan community is growing everyday so you may as well hop on board.
Cut the Screen Time
This one is so important to me. Ever since Apple released the Screen Time feature on iPhones I’ve been meaning to do something about the 5+ hours I spend on my phone. A lot of that time is taken up by texting my boyfriend Andy as we are in a long distance relationship and find communication KEY to making us working. Ironically most of our worst arguments happen over text and therefore have decided to cut down on texting and set aside time to FaceTime every 2 or 3 nights instead. By cutting down on texting someone everyday you have less small talk but more important face to face conversations.
I will also be cutting down on social media, because my mood is so influenced when I have spent a long time scrolling through my apps. On my worst days I used to spend almost 3 hours in total over the day just picking up my phone and scrolling through instagram alone. Completely pointless. I just don’t need to focus on other peoples appearances and lives that much. I’ve set myself a limit of 1 hour a day on social media which means my apps lock after I’ve used that up. The Screen Time app has lots of different features like this: like setting Downtime hours where all your apps lock after 10pm (for example) to encourage you to use your phone less before bed.
Even if you don’t do any of this, I would encourage you to look at how much time you’re spending on your phone a day and even a week. Ask yourself, could I be spending this time doing something more productive than playing Candy Crush? For example, I’ve downloaded a language learning app and am going to try (very hard) to learn some basic Japanese. Therefore, if I am using my phone its going to be for something productive.
Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day
A pretty basic one but we could all drink a bit more water. See if you can drink 8 glasses a day, its challenge but everything in your body will thank you for it.
Bed before 10pm
And finally, something I learnt from 2018. Go to bed EARLY!! Obviously your sense of ‘early’ will depend on factors such as work or homework or family but if you can get to bed by 10pm you are going to feel so much better when the alarm goes off at 7am the next day. If you don’t have that alarm set for 7am then you should still live by the 9 hour sleep rule (10 hours if possible). There are clearly lots of sleep study some even saying the opposite of me (that 6 hours sleep is actually better for you). I’m in full time dance training and if I don’t get to sleep by 9:30pm each night I struggle to get through classes that next day. The NHS recommend 7-9 hours a night and because I’m doing a lot of exercise I tend to stick to the top of that. If you’re not doing a lot of exercise then 8-9 is perfect. By getting into the habit of being in bed by 9:45pm and sleeping around 10pm you really give yourself the best shot at waking up at 7/8am feeling refreshed and ready for your day.