Your alarm goes off at 6am, it is Monday morning, dark outside and you are faced with getting on a packed train and going back to work, for a whole year, after a fun festive break. Where did the time vanish? Where did all my money go?!! Why do my clothes feel tight?!
It is OK to feel like this, everyone does. Remember this feeling will pass. It is just part of your mind grabbing hold of the situation and generating dark thoughts, because it loves to create problems and scan your life and environment for “threats”. This is simply due to its negative bias, designed originally to protect you from real threats- not the 550 emails welcoming you on return to work! You are not your thoughts, remember that.
Nonetheless, January can be a tough month for many both mentally and physically so here are my top tips for a winter of wellbeing, great energy and a brilliant new start to the decade.
- Gratitude- Rather than being resentful about returning to work, be grateful that you even had a break from work and that you got to rest and spend quality time with family and friends. Remember the privileged position you are in to have a job to come back to and find joy in the small things which crop up throughout the day.
- Boundaries– Ease yourself back into the new year. Schedule your work and make sure you are taking short breaks throughout the day and finishing work on time. Set personal boundaries around your life, which includes learning to say “no”, and respect them for yourself.
- Sleep– This is your super-power and the most potent performance enhancing drug out there! Honour this and optimise your sleep. If you know you need 8 hours to feel good make this work. You must work backwards- often we can’t control what time we need to get up, but we have more control over the time we go to bed. If you have to be up a 6am then you need to be asleep by 10pm which likely means you need to be in bed by 9:30pm. Tip- getting ready for bed as soon as you get home i.e. taking off make up, changing into PJs or whatever you need to do, makes getting into bed so much easier when the time comes.
- Connect with your purpose- This is a very powerful one. When it comes to work, sometimes it doesn’t matter what we do, it matters why we are doing it. Having a sense of purpose, whether that is something manifested through work or outside of work, gives us an infinite amount of natural energy because we are driven by a higher purpose. Explore what this is for you, it will change your life.
- Vitamin D- I can guarantee if you stay in the office all day with artificial light and central heating you are going to start to feel terrible. Get some natural daylight every day, as a minimum go outside for your lunch break for at least 20-30 minutes, you will feel significantly better. To support the lack of daylight and sunlight in the winter I recommend a high-quality vitamin D supplement (I love Vitamin D3 Drops by Nutri Advanced), which I take daily from October-March.
- Set intentions (not resolutions) for life and goals for work- Sometimes new year’s resolutions just really set you up for failure. You say you are going to quit coffee and then a situation crops up and you have a coffee and then you feel like a failure. Rather than this, why not set yourself the intention to reduce your coffee intake slowly and then get to the point where you enjoy one once in a while. Be gentle with yourself. In terms of work, I suggest you sit down and define what you want to achieve professionally from the year and then what the mini steps are to ensure you get there.
- Eat real food- After a month of Christmas parties, entertaining and new year celebrations your body would have been exposed to a lot of highly processed foods that would have taken away from your health and energy processes, therefore your energy levels will be compromised. If you find it hard to take something completely OUT from your diet that is not doing you any good (e.g. sugar) focus more on what you are putting IN your diet, focusing on more whole, real food including plenty of plants.
- Exercise- An obvious one yes, but not to be forgotten. It is cold outside, and the gyms will be busy! If this puts you off, do consider incorporating more movement into your daily life. Things such as walking the flight of stairs instead of the lift or walking between meetings instead of taking the tube will add up and make a difference. Consider apps such as FIIT, they offer free 25 minute or 40-minute work outs which you can do at home with no equipment needed, with the luxury of knowing you can jump in the shower straight away without queuing for it!
- Socialise- You may feel like you are done with socialising after the festive break but bear in mind that social connection is imperative for good wellbeing. Going for a walk with a colleague at lunch time or going for coffee with a friend during the day will boost your sense of happiness. If you work remotely, do a video call to your team and ask each other how their holiday was and what their goals are for the new year.
- Nest your desk- As an accredited professional in the WELL Building Standard, I can wholeheartedly say the environment you work in makes a big difference to your wellbeing and your performance at work. Clear out your desk drawers and de-clutter the surface of your desk. Clean the surfaces and your keyboard. Ensure you have a good chair and that you are set up at the right height. Have plenty of water on your desk and at least one plant. Have some brain-boosting snacks available such as nuts, avocado and fruit.
I hope you can take away a few things from this blog. Wishing you a peaceful, fulfilling and healthy new year,
High Performance & Wellbeing Coach at The Conscious Coach
Workplace Wellbeing Consultant
BSc Sport & Exercise Science
WELL Accredited Professional
Mental Health First Aider