5 steps to planning an intentional & healthy January, one day at a time
If you were one of the millions of people feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and quite frankly “over 2020” by the end of last year, then the recent Christmas holiday season was probably a welcome break which hopefully allowed you some time to switch off and relax.
Today is the first day back to work for many, which can present people with the fear of returning to a full inbox, endless zoom meetings, the same “office” environment where you have just spent Christmas and more unknown territory of what 2021 might look like.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Do you want to know how I will be navigating January? One day at a time. We don’t know what the next government restriction will be, we can’t yet plan holidays or fun social events and we don’t know when we can return to the office but there are many things within our control that can help us get through January.
- Control what you can control and accept what you can’t
If we didn’t learn anything else in 2020, we did learn that we have less control over our lives than perhaps we thought. Last year it was the pandemic and this year it could be something else. The truth is life is always going to throw curveballs and we need to develop our ability to have “ease” with this, because the pure nature of resisting what is, is what causes “dis-ease” and therefore ill health. The good news is that there are lots of things we can control, and the points below will hopefully give you some ideas.
My January commitment: To take each day as it comes this month and whatever happens, turn it to my advantage. For example, another lockdown will mean I enjoy more slow mornings, time to exercise, cooking from scratch and spending time with loved ones. Less restrictions? I will enjoy connecting with more friends and family, eating out and planning social events.
- Plan your time
Diarise your basic foundations of health, the ones which you know you need to look after to maintain your wellbeing and mental health.
My January commitment: For me sleep, diet and movement are deal breakers to how I feel, show up and perform. I am going to exercise 3 weekday mornings before work for 30 minutes each. I will batch cook a healthy soup on a Monday which I will eat every lunch time so it is just done and easy, and I will make sure I get 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Set boundaries
From the offset this month, set boundaries with work, and own them so you do not get a repeat of last year. For instance, what time are you going to log on and log off each day? When are you scheduling in breaks to rest and recover? Are you going to turn your phone off after a certain time each night to be present with your loved ones? When are you going to get outdoors? Are you going to clear away your workspace each night?
My January commitment: I am not going to log off later than 6pm every weeknight and stay offline at the weekends. Of course, there may be instances that I need to work late, and I will accept that and then revert to my boundaries.
What is the best-known way to change human behaviour? Incentives. You need to reward yourself for sticking to new habits and behaviours in order to motivate you and make something habitual. Find an incentive which is meaningful to you.
My January commitment: If I can log off at 6pm on a weeknight I will reward myself with a small homemade organic hot chocolate after dinner watching an episode of my favourite series on Netflix (currently Designated Survivor if anyone is interested… it is EXCELLENT!)
- Be kind
Ultimately, January is always a tough month in the northern hemisphere, with the excitement of the Christmas holidays being over and the long, cold, and dark nights. With an ongoing pandemic causing chaos in our lives, schools being closed, worrying about loved one’s health and workloads piling up again, we honestly need to be kind to ourselves and each other. Accept you and your colleagues will have some tough days ahead but know that nothing is permanent, this will pass, and brighter days are coming.
My January commitment: Reminding myself that this is the most exceptional of times but that it will start to fade away soon. Accepting that I will feel disappointed if plans are cancelled again but know that there are always so many things in my life to feel grateful for.