It’s clear that by the end of 2020 we were all glad to see the back of it with new hopes that 2021 would be a little gentler, a little more promising and a little busier. Oh how naive we were! After the year we’ve had there’s no real space to give ourselves strict resolutions for 2021. This year is about taking each day as it comes dealing with the uncertainty that lies ahead. If like me, you started 2020 thinking it was THE YEAR and you were sorely mistaken then read on for a few healthy and realistic goals, intentions and habits that will ease you in to 2021 without setting yourself up for any disappointment.
1. BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET!
If 2020 taught us anything it was that the future is uncertain, job security is out the window and there is no guarantee of a pay cheque. 2020 was the year I finally realised overspending and spending beyond my means were no longer feasible. If you feel like your finances are out of control it’s time to write down every expense you have – rent, bills, food, transport etc. on a spreadsheet and work out what you have left over for the month. If the task of writing out your finances and working out a budget is overwhelming there are plenty of apps that can help you out. Mint is a free app that lets you track all your finances, budget easily and keeps everything in one place to make the process feel less overwhelming.
2. START SAVING $
Once a budget has been set it’s time to start considering saving part of that disposable income, even if it’s a tiny amount. There will always be reasons not to save money – not earning enough, bills to pay etc etc I’ve used them all in the past. One of the easiest ways to start saving without really realising is portioning off a small percentage immediately after getting paid. Make it the first thing to come out your bank before any bills, food etc.. Even if you go overdrawn (get yourself a bank with an interest free overdraft) you’ll start to begin to realise that this money was never yours to spend in your bank account and you’ll start tailoring your spends to accommodate the deduction at the start of the month. I look at the 10% I put in savings at the start of the month the same way I look at tax – it’s not mine to spend. Also see if your bank has a “round up” option on your spends which go straight into the savings account. For any purchase made the rest of the pennies up to the next pound go into the separate account. It’s a slow and steady option but it’s adding coin to your rainy day fund without you even noticing.
3. READ MORE
For those in lockdown or isolating with a bit of time on their hands, stop scrolling the internet and escape with a good read for a few hours. It’s said that reading fiction is healthy for our minds. The escapism from any grim realities we are facing is one factor but also there’s evidence that it builds empathy, which is something we all need a bit more of navigating through these last turbulent months. And of course reading non-fiction books are educational where you gain knowledge and understanding of situations you may not come across in your own world.
4. CHOOSE A WORKOUT YOU LOVE
There is no point in punishing yourself with gruelling workouts you resent for rapid results. Its a surefire way to fall of the exercise wagon and go back to square 1. Instead pick a workout you love getting out of bed for and one you know you’ll commit to because you actually want to do it. It can be anything from walking an hour in the park and getting fresh air to a boxing session and everything in between. My all time favourite workout is pilates. Stretching and gentle moving which over time I’ve seen great results not only physically but emotionally too. Exercise is so much more than toning up. If you start by exercising for your mental health and see the physical results as a bonus then I promise you’ll have a much healthier relationship with it.
5. MEAL PLANNING
If you plan on sticking to number 1 on this list then it’s time to stop indulging so regularly on takeaways and start sticking to a realistic and affordable meal plan each week. Planning meals in advance takes the stress off opening up the fridge hungry and tired after a days work and starting at ingredients with no inspiration of what to make. To get inspiration for recipes check out Pinterest, the recipe section of this blog, your favourite cook books and write out the plan when you aren’t hungry and have the energy to feel inspired. My favourite time to meal plan for the week ahead is Sunday morning after breakfast and nursing my second coffee.
Declutter your mind, declutter your home, declutter your to-do list, declutter your toxic friendship group. Decluttering every aspect of your life will bring you so much peace and joy you’ll question why it took you so long to get round to it. We live in a society that is so busy and always so productive. It causes burnout and it can creates a feeling of lacking for those struggling to keep up with being productive. Instead of having 25 things on your daily to-do list, pick 5 important and manageable tasks each day of the week. It’s way more likely you’ll get to the end of the week and have achieved way more giving real focus to each task. We’ve all spent enough time at home this year to realise what we severely dislike about our abodes and by decluttering some of the junk around you it’ll feel like a more tranquil and calm space to get focused. Same goes for your mind and your toxic friendship groups. Block out the noise from every angle and focus on whats best for you, if people are bringing you down, creating negativity or making you feel small then they have no space if your life. Remove them!
7. CREATE A GREAT MORNING ROUTINE
Having a good routine to start the day makes it a heck of a lot easier to get up in the morning – especially during these cold and dark winter months. By doing what gives you energy and joy in the morning you begin to create purpose for your day. For me it’s ten minutes of meditation followed by reading a chapter of my book, setting out my to-do list for the day over coffee and walking my dog. By the time I sit down to work I feel at peace in my mind, I feel energised from the movement of getting outside and in the fresh air and I feel motivated to get on with my day.
8. CREATE A GREAT BEDTIME ROUTINE
Just as important as the morning routine, winding down for a good night’s sleep is vital for setting yourself up for success with your morning routine. This cycle is never ending so get used to it and get a good bedtime routine in place ASAP. For me it’s less screen time before bed, wash and cleanse my face followed by my nightimte skincare routine, reading a chapter or two of my book and aim to have lights out by 10.30pm. I’ll also write in my wellness journal 3 times a week noting what has gone well, what I’m working on and general thoughts and feelings. Expressing gratitude helps you have more positive emotions more regularly which is one more step in the right direction to feeling good.
9. TAKE EACH DAY AS IT COMES
Taking each day as it comes makes the great unknown of this year much easier to deal with. By booking holidays or making plans with friends far in advance in the hope that lockdown rules will have eased is setting yourself up for disappointment. If you can handle the sudden changes, risk of losing money and reorganising events then go ahead and book, but if each time grand plans are cancelled and it feels like the end of the world then it’s time to just take each day at a time. See today as one tiny part of your whole life which you will give your full attention, tomorrow do the exact same and keep going and going. Don’t think about whether we’ll still be in this situation in ten months time. That worry does nothing for anyone’s mental health. Instead give yourself a reasonable amount of tasks, designate time to relax and do something you enjoy. And whatever you’re doing give it your full presence and attention in the moment.
10. ACCEPT THAT YOU CANNOT CONTROL EVERYTHING
It’s a tough one, but once you accept that you cannot control everything life becomes a bit easier and simpler. Focus on what you can control in your surrounding environment (all of the above) and just let the rest be what it is. It’s tough to let go but once you do you’ll give yourself so much more peace in your own life.