It’s the time of year we start to think about making some life changes, whether we end up sticking to them or not.
But with only 12% of Brits planning to make any new year resolutions for 2021, according to a YouGov poll, we wanted to write about something which would be helpful to people all year round.
Life and careers coach Joanne Mallon has a new book out, Change Your Life in 5 Minutes a Day, which focuses on tiny things you can do to live a happier life.
Here, she reveals her favourite tips from the book (there are 66 in there!) and how we can all enjoy a better year in 2021.
1. Make a tiny change
Personally I think that tiny changes are going to be a big trend for 2021. Most of us know by now that traditional New Year resolutions don’t really work, plus 2020 has been so wearing that who really has the energy for a major lifestyle change?
Tiny changes, on the other hand, are small, practical things that we can implement in our day, but which will make a big difference. You didn’t become the person you are today overnight, so it’s unrealistic to expect to change everything at once and for those changes to stick.
So if you’re having a lifestyle overhaul in January 2021, start with one easy thing, such as drinking more water. This has so many benefits, from supporting your joints, to keeping your kidneys healthy and improving concentration. Plus it’s free and easy to do. You could even use an app to track your daily water consumption.
2. Enjoy the research phase
Sometimes people are too quick to jump into a New Year exercise routine without really thinking about what they want to do, so it all becomes a bit of a chore and eventually gets discarded. This is why gyms are so full in January and empty by March.
Instead, I would encourage people to spend January exploring their options for activity and exercise. Try new things, including stuff that sounds a bit scary or you’re not sure about. Try everything at least once. Then when you hit on something you enjoy, do it again. But keep trying the new stuff too.
The truth is it’s easier to stick to an exercise programme if you enjoy the activity you’re doing. But you won’t know what you enjoy until you give it a go. Maybe you’re a weightlifter, not a runner. Maybe you’ll enjoy Pilates more than Peloton.
Make a big list of all the exercise that’s available to you, including YouTube, Instagram and Zoom options, and work through it, starting with whatever appeals to you most. If you do join a gym, go to all the classes and all the instructors at least once. Be open minded and allow your body to find its path.
3. Turn off app notifications
One of the most useful things we can all do in under a minute is go through our phones and turn off as many notifications as possible.
Notifications interrupt the flow of your day and suck up your attention by dragging you back into the online world.
If you’re cutting down on screen activity, wearing a watch will also help by stopping you picking up your phone to check the time.
3. Add new habits on to existing ones
The trick to making a new habit stick is to add it on to something you already do frequently, such as brushing your teeth, walking into the kitchen or putting your feet on the floor in the morning.
These habits are already well-embedded in your life, and you can use that momentum to fold it into a new healthy habit you want to start. This makes the new habit more likely to stick, because it has an anchor.
For example, you could do 10 press ups when you go into your bedroom, write three things in a gratitude journal after brushing your teeth at night, or do 10 minutes meditation as soon as you get up in the morning.
4. Breathe in confidence
This is a trick used by professional speakers to help them feel calm and confident. I think it’s quite a useful tool to have. One thing we know about anxiety is that it can pop up at any time, so this is something you can do whenever you need to.
Place your dominant hand on your stomach, on the area that goes in and out most noticeably when you breathe. Take relaxed, full breaths, feeling the abdomen pull in then out again.
Deep breathing like this slows the heart rate, making you feel centred and ready to face the world. Practise this a few times when you’re already feeling calm, so you’ll know how to do it anytime you need to reconnect with your most confident self.
5. Stop saving things for best
Increasingly throughout 2020, I thought that instead of saving things for best, if we’re going to save them at all, then it should be for worst. When things are at their best and everything is going well, you don’t really need a pick me up so much. But when things are at their worst, that’s when we could do with a treat.
What could you add to your morning routine to make it more of a pleasure? What have you been saving for best that you could use to treat yourself with today? The aim here is to spend five minutes being physically kind to yourself.
You could use a body lotion, a beautiful perfume, or the fancy shower gel you got for Christmas but haven’t opened yet. Treat yourself with kindness and generosity.
Today is all the special occasion you need. No more saving things for best – your best starts now.