As we move into 2020, you might still be thinking of some goals or resolutions you want to set yourself for the year ahead. You honestly can’t go wrong with a dedication to your own wellbeing - I set myself one resolution to meditate daily back at the start of 2018, and one to do yoga 2-3 times a week back at the start of 2019, and they are both things that I am continuing to do going forwards because of the amazing benefits I’ve felt as a result of doing them. I feel calmer, more content and generally more vigorous in myself, and I wanted to share some ideas with you that are super achievable and maintainable for a healthier, happier 2020.
This is something I do most nights before bed, but you can also do it as soon as you wake up, or at any time of the day when you might feel the need to unwind, refocus or stay calm. I use the Headspace app to do ten minute meditations before bed - they have a whole range of courses you can use that focus on specific areas of your life - from starting a new job to dealing with illness - which are really useful.
If you don’t want to pay to use the app, you can use the free version that has quite a lot of simple, follow-along meditations for beginners. Apps like Calm and Aura also offer this kind of thing, as well as special sleep stories to help you drift off on a night, which I find really helpful when I have a lot on my mind. Even if you don’t think it’s something you can get into, try doing ten minutes each day for a week and see how you feel - you might be surprised!
It’s a very well-known fact that sleep is essential to human health. You need a minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night in order for your body and mind to perform essential processes that are crucial for mental and physical health. There are a substantial amount of studies to prove the benefits of a good night’s sleep, and the worrying health problems connected to under-sleeping on a regular basis. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you are increasing your chances of diabetes, weight-gain and heart disease, among many other things.
I can’t stress enough the importance of sleep - it’s vital to our brain’s neural processing functions, the recovery of cells and the regulation of hormones. I could write multiple blog posts about it, but if you are interested in learning more then I’ve linked some great resources at the bottom of the post for you.
So maybe set yourself the goal of getting a minimum of 8 hours each night, even if it’s just Monday-Friday [the minimum should be 7 hours]. You might have to be strict with yourself on your evening routine to ensure you get the 8 hours, but it will be a huge benefit to your wellbeing. I usually try and get into bed by 9pm to read and unwind for an hour before turning off the light and doing my meditation. I’m then up at 6am most mornings so that gives me a good 8 hours of rest each night.
Try and do two or three 20-minute yoga sessions each week - either before or after work - to help with joint and muscle pain, flexibility and overall mindfulness. Yoga can be very meditative, especially if you do the slower Vinyasa style. I follow Sarah Beth Yoga, as she has a really good variety of sessions that are super easy to follow, even for beginners. You don’t necessarily need a mat either, but you can get them pretty cheap these days if you do want to take it up more regularly. I usually squeeze a session in as soon as I get home from work so that I’m nice and relaxed for the rest of the night.
I LOVE my skincare routine. It’s nowhere near as vigorous as it could be, but keeping it simple makes it more manageable and enjoyable for me - whatever works best for you and your routine. Looking after your skin is essential in the ageing process: even if you just moisturise daily, that’s going to be better for you than nothing at all. Our faces get put through a lot, both through severe weather and the application and removal of make-up, so it’s so important to make sure we are protecting them as much as possible.
I only use three things in my facial skincare routine: cleanser, serum and moisturiser. I try and use only natural products where I can, to make sure I’m not putting too many harsh chemicals on my skin. These are the products I use [in order]:
Morning Cleanser - Lush’s Angels on Bare Skin This is a lovely exfoliating cleanser, using ground almonds to remove dead skin with rose, chamomile and lavender soothing and smoothening. I use this every morning to give my face a fresh, bright look to start the day.
Evening Cleanser - Trilogy Makeup Be Gone Cleansing Balm I use this cleanser to remove my makeup at the end of the day. I love that it comes with a little organic facecloth, which can be washed and reused to save on cotton pads. Rosehip and coconut oils help to nourish and protect my skin, while the Mango Butter melts away makeup really easily.
Serum - Pai Instant Calm Redness Serum My nose and cheeks are always red, especially in the winter, so this Serum really helps to calm that redness down and balance out my skin-tone a little more evenly. Sea Aster reduces the redness by strengthening the surface blood vessels, while Wild Oat extract protects the skin against any irritants.
Moisturiser - Evolve Multi Peptide 360 Cream This face cream is suuuuuuuper thick and creamy, and leaves my face feeling hydrated and soft. It’s a natural, organic cream packed with superfood ingredients like Coconut Peptides, Cupuacu Butter and Prickly Pear to help support collagen and elasticity, calm any irritations and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles.
For the rest of my body, I keep it pretty simple with Dr Bronner’s Pure Castile soap for washing, a homemade coffee scrub every other day to exfoliate, and then Dr Bronner’s organic hand and body lotion to moisturise. As I said before, even if you just choose to moisturise every day, your skin will thank you for it, and you’ll feel much better for it too.
Try and cut out refined sugars and processed foods in 2020 - even if it’s not all the time [you can still indulge on holidays and special occasions, for instance]. By choosing fresh, whole foods, you will notice a significant improvement to your overall health and wellbeing, and you might even lose excess weight in the process! It could be just as simple as picking wholewheat pasta and bread over white initially, or choosing to use a spoonful of honey to sweeten your hot drinks as opposed to refined sugar or artificial sweeteners.
I’m a huge advocate of dedicating time to yourself as much as possible - taking care of your health and wellbeing can only ever be a good thing, and will most likely benefit other aspects of your life too. Even if you just take 10 minutes of each day doing something for yourself, you’ll notice a big difference, and can make it a part of your routine quite easily.
For this year, I’m making more of an effort to keep a set number of weekends free each month so that I can have time to myself and avoid feeling burnt out - I’ll still make time for friends and family of course, but will be a bit more strategic when making plans.
Try and make 2020 the year to start focusing more on you, implementing resolutions that last a lifetime and reap the benefits of a content body & mind for many years to come.
Article - Why 8 hours a night isn’t enough Great interview with Daniel Gartenberg [PhD in Human Factors and Applied Cognition], discussing some of the myths around sleeping, and a basic overview of the importance of sleep.
Mind-blowing podcast delving into the intricacies of sleep with Matthew Walker, who is a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology and the University of California. He also wrote the book I’ve listed below about sleep.
Book - Why we Sleep by Matthew Walker I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book, though I haven’t had chance to read it yet.