Happy New Year!
Fancy a change of pace this year? A spring in your step and a smile on your face? There’s a bunch of things you can experiment with to improve your health and wellbeing for the year ahead. Here are the things we recommend - some small steps to health and success in 2019.
Want to burn calories and have more energy? The gym isn’t always the answer.
There’s a wave of new thinking about movement and exercise that suggests we should move more frequently through the day. Our musculoskeletal health, it’s thought, suffers if we simply work out at the gym for an hour then spend 7 sitting in a chair. Health experts like Katy Bowman suggest dynamic, micro movements through the day, such as standing, squatting, wiggling your feet and arms, and even dancing. You can even set alarms or reminders on your devices to give you a little nudge, and you can become that weirdo in the office who never sits still. If Santa’s given you a fitness tracker for Christmas, now’s your chance to use it. If you’ve already got one, you’ll know how addictive it is to squeeze those extra steps in before the counter resets at midnight!
If you do a lot of work on the computer, it’s also worth looking at your setup to make sure your posture is correct. A standing desk can work wonders for your wellbeing if you’ve got the space for one. Cognitively speaking, standing desks tend to be great for repetitive tasks, and sitting is best for creative ideation (so maybe sit down to think and stand up to type!)
Healthy eating is something close to our hearts. A new year is an opportunity to rethink those food habits to give your body and mind the fuel it really needs. Whether it’s a big change like going paleo, veggie or vegan, or small tweaks like swapping the chocolate bars in your cupboard for cashews and almonds, there’s loads of ways to eat a bit better.
Not that you should completely ditch the occasional pizza. Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables is always a great goal to aim for. An easy way to get your needs taken care of is through fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi - some of the world’s healthiest foods, full of probiotic goodness.
Cutting down on sugar is one of the best ways to feel better. Instead of a sweet chocolatey mocha, you could try a cold brew coffee (which has almost no calories). You might also think about swapping the fizzy pop for a Jun or Kombucha, both of which are low in sugar and packed full of tangy goodness. You can find a range of flavours in our online shop.
And speaking of drinks…
We would never tell anyone to tone down their celebrations. Many of us love a tipple, especially in the chilly winter months. But for an extra spring in your step, why not consider reducing your alcohol intake? It is Dry January, after all.
Now’s a great time to do it. Not only is it becoming more acceptable to go alcohol-free on a night out every now and then, but there are also loads of options now for the non-drinker. You can get alcohol-free beers, wines and even gin & tonics. Some bars even serve kombucha these days, which we reckon is an excellent idea (if you’re staying home, you could order in a case of our organic kombucha for family and friends).
You might want to cut out booze for a set amount of time - a month maybe, or even the whole year. You could also decide to have a minimum number of drink-free days per week, or you could set geographical rules - no drinking in the house, only when you’re out, that kind of thing. It’s up to you.
Not only are people thinking more about the health of their bodies these days, but also their minds. With the world seemingly getting more manic and complicated, it’s pretty much a necessity to make time to recharge and give our brains the treatment they deserve.
Firstly, meditation is a must. Everyone’s doing it these days, and if you haven’t tried it, maybe now’s the time. It can do wonders for reducing anxiety, increasing your attention span and clearing up mental clutter, and it’s supported by hard science. Regular meditation is like weightlifting for the mind, and a process called neuroplasticity means your brain makes new connections the more you do it. We’d recommend getting an app like Calm, Waking Up or Headspace, and doing the intro sessions - only a few minutes each. Simple.
You can also treat your second brain (the microbiome in your gut) to a dose of healthy probiotics. Fermented foods are a super source of these friendly bacteria, and the emerging field of enteric neuroscience is showing more links between treating your gut right, and having better mental health. This great write-up at Men’s Health explores the latest research into the 'gut-brain axis’, and how you can feed it what it needs to feel good. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi are on the list of recommendations, and we couldn’t be happier - have a look at our range on the online shop.
So simple, you can do it in your sleep. But learning how to breathe properly can be a big upgrade in the quality of your daily life.
Patrick McKeown, author of The Oxygen Advantage, recommends you get oxygen moving around your body and up to your brain by consciously breathing through your nose. It calms you down and helps you get your thoughts together more easily. Do it slowly, through your abdomen, as quietly as possible, for the best results.
In Patrick’s words, "We can live without food for weeks and water for days, but air for just a few brief minutes. While we spend a great deal of time and attention on what we eat and drink, we pay practically no attention to the air we breathe.” It’s certainly worth thinking about.
So there you have it. Some simple ways to help you become a new person for the new year. It’s worth planning how you’re going to stick to your new routines after January, though. Thankfully there’s a load of apps that help you track your habits, such as the Way of Life app and Streaks. James Clear’s new book Atomic Habits has been doing the rounds recently and includes some great habit-changing mindset shifts. And you can go mad buying stationery and productivity journals to note down how you’re doing.
Finally, some other things to consider are:
- Reading more books - it’ll make you cleverer.
- Taking cold showers - raises your heart rate and gets you ready for the day!
- Write a gratitude journal - flips your mindset and helps you live more in the moment.
- Start your day with a shot of kimchi juice - vitamins, minerals and enzymes make for a happy and healthy tummy!