What if you started now?
It’s that time of year when many of us go to extremes. We overindulge in the run up to and over the festive season, then as the partying and excess begin to take their toll we look to the New Year as the cut off. We imagine that from the last peel of Big Ben at midnight we will start the resolutions, detox, hit the gym, sign up for a marathon.
But what if we didn’t have to go from one extreme to the other? Is there a way to both party hard and make a lifestyle change at the same time? Bring that start date forward a month and kick start your transformation! Soften the edges of the transition and make this time of year more fun and less stressful on your mind and body.
Imagine if you hit January 1st with some new routines already established. Here’s 6 reasons why starting early might be just the ticket…
1) You can find the time! Most of us have a busy schedule at this time of year. But let’s face it we’re all busy, all the time. If you really want to make a change you will find the time. If you intentionally make the time, there will be time to be had. Why not take the bull by the horns and make an early morning start part of your advent routine, try a week of getting up 30 mins earlier and getting out of the door for some fresh air and a jog, or stay in and do some yoga.
Oddly by taking time out you’ll actually make more time by coming back more productive and focused. And here’s a bonus; by starting early you can avoid the crowds. You’ll find something amazing at this time of year – the pool and gym are much less crowded. Get into the routine before the rush on 2nd January. It’s an amazing feeling getting into an empty swimming pool and it’s a great time to get over any nerves about trying something new or going back to it.
2) You could avoid the bugs and stay well. A bit of exercise can be a great antidote to the toxins we accumulate at this time of year. It’s a well-known fact that although we might enjoy a mince pie and the odd alcoholic beverage that these kind of food and drinks take their toll on our bodies, both in the long term and short term. The late nights and bad diet can lower our immunity levels and leave us vulnerable to winter bugs and illness. Moderate and fun exercise on the other hand boosts the immune system, fires up the metabolism and leaves you with that endorphin rush. You’ll feel better in mind and body.
3) Try something different, you may find that you like it! Beat the winter blues by joining in a Boxing Day open water swim! The positive effect of swimming in cold water has recently been widely publicised. Or, if breaking the ice isn’t your thing, then just do something a bit unusual to break out of the winter doldrums, a hike round the local woods on a dark evening, listening for owls and looking out for animals, will give you and the kids a whole new perspective. Search for local “geocaches” – a fun kind of orienteering, sometimes with a little prize at the end. Or even simpler, a Christmas parkrun can be fun and a great way to kick off the big day
4) Avoid seasonal stress and arguments. Exercise is the ultimate stress buster. We all know that Christmas is a time of year when tensions sometimes run high. Meeting up with family can be great but for some this can also be stressful. Christmas can be a lonely time for some or a reminder of missed loved ones. Maybe you’re just fretting about whether you got the right presents? Destress and improve your mood by getting some exercise and return as a zen master to restore the sense of love, peace and wellbeing more rightly associated with this season. Going on an active journey or pilgrimage to a place of shared significance could be a fitting way to remember someone who we loved who is no longer with us.
5) Breath some fresh air! Starting your new routines early is a great excuse to get out of the house. Over the festive season it’s possible to spend hour after hour indoors. Get out of the stuffy, overheated comfort zone and wake your body up. Take the kids to follow the Gruffalo trail at the nearest forestry commission park or head off to the rec for a game of frisbee or a kick about with Grandparents. Or if the others won’t shift from the couch or their new smart phone, break out and go solo for a bit of active reflection time, be a positive role model! The repetitive actions of walking, running, swimming or cycling are a great way to meditate, to either intentionally think things through or even better to ‘let go’ and immerse yourself deeply in your activity. Don’t rush to ‘get it done’, instead embrace the process and appreciate the moment, breathe deeply, notice the sound of your feet on the ground or feel the sensation of your fingertips moving through the water.
6) Finally, just do it! There really is no time like the present. If you want to start changing your life then don’t put it off, do it now! Don’t overthink it, just make a start. If you are even thinking about doing something new then now is the best time. Almost everything that gets put off ‘til tomorrow never happens. Today is the best day you’ll ever have to make that change.