At the start of a New Year, many of us long for and embark on positive change in our lives, using January as the ‘fresh start’ effect to motivate us.

What do you want to add more of to your life this year? What do you want to achieve? More importantly, how do you want to feel?

A New Year can often feel overwhelming when we have so many goals, and so much we want to achieve that sometimes people end up not achieving anything at all by giving up, resorting to say, ‘oh well… there’s always next year’.

A goal for many of us is to improve our mental and physical wellbeing, and this year adding more ‘self-care’ in to our daily lives is a relevant priority for many. It seems self-care is one of the key words of the year. Here’s how you can add more self-care in to your routine to achieve your wellbeing intentions, stop that feeling of overwhelm and boost your wellbeing to sustain you through 2019.

Setting Intentions and Habits, Not Resolutions…

The best way to achieve all that we want is not by making resolutions, but by creating habits. When we want to do something, success lies in the ‘doing’ and taking action. When we consistently practice a habit, this becomes second nature and something that we just do without really thinking about it. On the other hand, when we set a resolution, we create all this pressure around it, and kick ourselves when we don’t follow through.

Creating new habits still takes a lot of discipline but setting intentions and committing to them is more sustainable than putting all your bets on one or even several resolutions that have no clear strategy for achievement.

First of all, it’s best to choose one intention at a time. Many of us get so inspired on January 1st that we make a long list of things we want to change in the year. We look at the whole list and may be able to sustain a few of them for a while, but tends to be short-lived. It soon gets too much.

Choosing just one intention per month is a more sustainable, long-lasting way to achieve what we want. Forming habits takes a tremendous amount of discipline, so we want to use all our energy so that at the end of the day we can say, ‘yes, we achieved this!’ If we can focus on practising that one habit every single day, by the end of the month we’re much more likely to keep this up. If we’re happy with our progress, a new intention can be set for the new month ahead.

Self-care Rituals for 2019

You may want to choose one of these intentions for the new month. Here are some of the wellbeing rituals you can adopt this month to become healthier and less frazzled month by month for sustainable, long-term health.

1. Increase The Length And Quality Of Your Sleep

Sleep is essential for our mood, productivity, focus and for both mental and physical health. Without it, the world can feel like its ending and it can be hard to make it through the day without feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Falling asleep on the toilet at work is not ideal, right?

Set getting better sleep as one of your intentions to cultivate each day. You can do this by firstly improving your sleep hygiene. This means limiting screen time as much as possible in the hours leading up to bed, reducing caffeine intake in the latter part of the day and practising a calming bed time routine such as gentle yoga, meditation or a hot bath with relaxing essential oils.

Going to bed at the same time each night also helps as this keeps your brain in tune with your circadian rhythm to naturally fall asleep faster. You might want to take ashwagandha, a herbal remedy known to have a sedative-like quality and promote deeper, better quality sleep.

2. Practice Acts Of Solitude To Regain And Regather Your Mental Fitness

Incorporating an act of solitude into your daily routine that allows you to recharge and unwind from any daily stressors will make you better able to deal with life’s inevitable challenges. This can include relaxing baths, yoga routines, self-massage, meditation or even napping. Make self-care a priority by doing something like this for yourself every day, and you will feel a lot more calmer, productive and at peace with life. You can mix and match it up or commit to practising one of these every day.

3. Find Time To Fit In Exercise That Inspires And Motivates You

Starting is always the most difficult part, especially with exercise. It’s important to pick a type of exercise you truly love to be able to keep it up, as then you will be desperate to do it, and that’s the kind of effortless motivation you need to reach fitness goals. If pumping it up at the gym pushes you to work out and fills you with excitement, then do that!

But if a dance class gets you moving to JLo or Beyonce and inspires you to move and dance whenever you can, then find one to attend or find all the free, fun dance fitness videos on YouTube. There are so many options when it comes to exercise. Even a brisk ten-minute walk each day can get your heart and lungs working whilst toning the muscles, boosting focus and strengthening clarity of mind.

4. Embrace Sobriety

Many people partake in ‘Dry January’, a month of no alcohol consumption, however, some experts suggest that this gives people an excuse to continue drinking heavily for the remaining 11 months of the year. Cutting back or ditching altogether your alcohol can drastically improve your health for the long term. This includes no hang-overs so less recovery time and more productivity and clear thinking. Another benefit of setting this intention is cutting down on sugar intake, as alcohol is full of this, and this can help support sustainable weight loss. Less alcohol can improve mental and physical health with many people reporting that they feel less irritable and depressed, and more energised and clear-headed.

5. Plan Events and Retreats to Look Forward to

Having things to look forward to always improves our mental wellbeing. It means that when stress occurs, we know for sure that there will be a relief sometime soon. Think of things you would love to do and put them in your diary. This could be a holiday, or a concert, or whatever floats your boat really! If you’re passionate about your exercise and you know this brings you peace and happiness, schedule in a couple of days of doing your favourite workouts and taking care of your body for your own at-home, affordable retreat.

6. Disconnect from All-Consuming Technology

If you’re on all social media channels and you’re addicted to your phone (which many of us are), it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, unproductive or controlled by how much time we spend staring into screens every day. Making a conscious effort to switch our screens off and step away from technology for a while can really help us to feel less frazzled and more at peace. If it’s hard to do this because you need to be connected for work, try to have a break for at least 24 hours if possible. And see how good you feel afterwards, because 2019 is all about feeling great!

Will you be setting any of these intentions to develop long-term habits? Feel free to get in touch with us and let us know what you want to get out of 2019! We would love to hear from you!

Written by Jess Burman

Well-being writer

BA (Honours) in Writing