1. Read A Book
Turn off the television an hour before you go to bed and start reading instead. The act of reading not only opens your mind to new stories, letting you immerse yourself in an alternative reality that doesn't have the stresses and complexity of your daily life, but helps widen your vocabulary and helps with creativity - great if you're a blogger! Reading can also be incredibly relaxing, helping us switch off from the smartphones and tablets that are constantly in our hands. Digesting a few chapters while snuggled up in bed can also help your mind to shut down gradually, easing the process of falling asleep and ensuring you wake up the next morning feeling both refreshed and a little more worldly. I've never been without a book on the go for as long as I can remember and snuggling up really helps me to relax while providing tonnes of conversation material!
2. Experience Meditation
I'm no hippy or alternative therapist, but I've recently becoming interested in meditation as a way of taking ten minutes for myself and clearing my mind entirely. Sitting still and focusing on your breathing, closing off thoughts about work or relationships, helps to keep you balanced and calm. If you struggle with anxiety, find your mind is too wound to sleep effectively or simply struggle with time for yourself, then a few minutes at the start or end of the day could make the world of difference. There are loads of free apps available via the iTunes or Google Play store that help you 'get in the zone' and build up from the basics, but if you struggle a quick swim does the job equally as well - you can focus on nothing more other than staying afloat and swimming in a straight line.
3. Integrate Herbal Tea
There's no doubt whatsoever that I love a cup of coffee and a good old breakfast tea, but switching up a couple of your regular caffeine fixes for something more herbal can make a massive difference to your overall well-being. Caffeine is a psychological stimulant, which can be great at 3pm when you need to speed through 300 emails but not so much come bedtime when you can't switch off; reducing your dependency on coffee and integrating herbal teas into your routine not only helps you to consume and retain more water, but can also offer health benefits. Green tea is known to provide an injection of vitamins and antioxidants, chamomile and lavender help to calm the mind and jasmine is said to aid your metabolism while offering skincare benefits. It's well worth browsing the herbal tea section when you're next doing the weekly shop, sipping on something soothing while at your desk that will do you more good than a calorific grande latte with extra hazelnut.
4. Go For A Walk
We all lead incredibly busy lives and it's hard to fit in anything extra, let alone dedicating three sessions a week to the gym. However, did you know that a brisk ten minute walk every day can help strengthen your heart, lower cholesterol, tone your body, reduce the risk of dementia, boost your oxygen supply (and therefore energy levels,) provides you with a hit of Vitamin D (hello sunshine,) and even have a positive impact upon happiness levels? Studies have shown brisk walks to be as effective as antidepressants in cases of mild to moderate depression; getting active releases 'feel-good' endorphins into the bloodstream, reducing stress and anxiety. Instead of sitting at your desk reading a magazine during your lunch break, get out and enjoy your surroundings; get off the tube one stop earlier and grab the opportunity to boost your energy levels before a big meeting; start your weekend with a small adventure exploring local woodland or wandering around the park. It's so easy to do and doesn't even cost a penny.
5. Pamper Yourself
Regularly looking after your body, as well as your mind, will have a positive knock-on effect to everything else you do. Giving yourself an at-home manicure will help you feel polished and confident, while applying a face mask and slipping into a bath will help wash away the stresses of the day. I'm a firm believer in taking time out for yourself at least once a week, whether it's a thirty minute bathing session or a full on trip to the salon. Realising that your body is precious and should be thoroughly treasured and looked after is the first step to respecting the wondrous things it does. Moisturise your limbs, buff away dry skin, push back cuticles, apply a hair mask or soak your tired feet in something cooling - the little things make a big difference.
How will you ensure you're being good to yourself this year? Will you be trying any of my five favourite things out yourself?