At the turn of the year, many of us set resolutions for better health and wellbeing. Revolting against the excesses of the holiday season, and spurred by discounted offers on diet plans and gym memberships, we launch a full-scale assault towards better diet, exercise and lifestyle habits. Drawn by the latest marketing fad, we stop sugar, cut carbs, start a new exercise regime or push ourselves to work out 5 times a week. By February, our bodies are exhausted, our enthusiasm and motivation have waned, we abandon our efforts and revert back to our previous form. Until the next new year.
Midwinter is a challenging period: our physical and mental energies are depleted by the reduced daylight and warmth, yet our activity levels usually remain high. Our experience of stress is intensified, our physical immunity and resistance reduces, and so we become more vulnerable to illness and injury.
I therefore advise clients that Spring is a better time to embark upon any deeper or more fundamental lifestyle and behavioural changes. January is a time for slowing down and taking stock, versus further stressing our bodies or minds with any dramatic or wholesale change. At this time, it is worthwhile taking time to pause and reflect on the year gone by. We can further harness the powers of our Focus and Intention to help create an attitude of enduring positivity around our wellbeing for the year ahead.
Focus on Wellbeing
By focusing our minds on a compasionate wish to nurture our own good health and wellbeing, we can gently orient ourselves towards that experience. You may wish to start by asking yourself these questions, perhaps noting down your answers, as you go:
How is my physical health at this time? Consider all aspects of physical health, such as being free from illness, ailment, or injury; cardiovascular/respiratory fitness, stamina/endurance, muscular strength, flexibility and agility.
How well rested am I? Am I getting sufficient rest and sleep?
What is my experience of stress? Am I handling stress well, on a routine, day to day basis?
What are the habits and behaviours I already practice that help me to cultivate good health? How might I best maintain these?
Do I have any habits and behaviours, which do not serve my physical or mental wellbeing? How could I gently adapt these? When would be the best time for me to address these changes? What help and support would I benefit from in doing so?
Setting Positive Intentions
We can help cultivate and develop our focus on wellbeing by expressing simple intentions, such as:
“May I be well. May I be free from bodily illness, injury or ailment. May I benefit from the rest I need.”
“My body and mind are deserving of my attention and focus. May I show myself care and acceptance in cultivating my own good health.”
I recommend setting and focusing on no more than 3 intentions per month. Here are a range of suggestions that you may wish to choose from:
- I will take 15-20 minutes of gentle exercise each day
- I will increase my muscular strength, to help protect my body against injury
- I will take some time outdoors every day, wrapping up warmly to protect myself from the elements
- I will protect myself against work-related stress and fatigue by taking regular, periodic rest breaks during my working day
- I will stand and sit straighter, to protect my lower back
- I will take 15-20 minutes each day to fully rest and relax my body and mind
- I will gently increase my stamina and vitality by steadily increasing my levels of physical fitness
- I will take a break from all screens and devices for at least an hour each day
- I will abstain from drinking alcohol for at least four days each week
- I will focus my eating habits around good nutrition, taking food and drink that are wholesome and nourishing, whilst allowing myself the occasional indulgence
- I will gently let go of those habits and behaviours, which no longer serve my wellbeing
- I will take warm, soothing liquids for good hydration
- I will protect my body against illness by increasing my intake of fresh, unprocessed foods, and gradually reducing my intake of refined, highly processed foods
- I will equip myself to deal with stress by learning effective techniques to recover from it
- I will work with Focus and positive Intention to cultivate an attitude of good physical and mental health