Belated Happy New Year! I hope that you are settling into 2018 and the dark January days are not getting you down too much. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reflecting on 2017 rather than setting any New Year’s resolutions. It's been a worthwhile experience looking back at what I have achieved, focusing on the positives rather than what I didn’t do or didn’t get done. Try it, I’ll bet you’ve had a much better year than perhaps you thought!
I hear too many people feeling bad about themselves at this time of year. Either they feel they ate and drank too much over the festive period or they feel they haven’t done enough exercise. The answer seems to be to hit the gym to push themselves at a time when really we need to rest a bit more. It’s OK to do less in winter but yet we need to keep moving, our bodies need us to keep moving, they require movement.
Movement can be small, as in moving more of your parts, and doesn’t have to be intense. It doesn’t require you to put on exercise clothes but it will be helpful if the clothes you wear allow you to move.
Some tips to keep you moving:
If you feel deskbound, you can sit differently, sit on the edge of your chair, change your position, stand up, kneel in a lunge position while you work at your computer. Reach your arms over your head at your desk or as you walk through a doorway. Pepper these throughout the day.
At home, don’t plonk yourself into the sofa or armchair because you will only stay there for extended periods of time and will have to overcome a lot of inertia to get out of it! Mix it up, sit on different chairs. If you are able, sit on the floor. If sitting on the floor is difficult, bolster your hips up using cushions, yoga bolsters or blankets. Something firm is even better but at a lower height than you normally sit. This will put your hips at a lower position than normal and just getting in and out of these positions gets you more movement. It takes work, work your body needs, to hold yourself up and work that is usually outsourced to your furniture if you tend to slouch back into it and who doesn’t!
Go outside. Being cooped up at home or at work for hours a day means we rarely get to experience varied temperatures. Having to keep warm is in itself work for your body. If going outside is not possible and you work at a screen or spend hours on a smartphone, sit near a window and rest your eyes by looking at distances further away.
Take walk breaks, at the office or in the house but preferably outside, every day. Walk to places you can walk to rather than driving or using public transport. If possible, go to a park or a green space where there are lots of trees. Shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing” as it’s known in Japan, has been heavily researched and spending time in green spaces has been shown to promote lower cortisol levels, lower blood pressure and make us feel calmer. We spend less and less time outside today than ever before but especially in winter. You will feel better for it, no matter what the weather is like.
Take your shoes off at home (or at the office!). Spend time barefoot. If your feet get cold, it’s a sign that you need to move your feet more! If you must wear socks and you have hard floors in your house, then wear anti-slip socks otherwise you will end up gripping with your toes to stop yourself slipping, a bad habit you really don’t want to develop.