Jump Start January
Can we really jump-start January and make changes that will last for the rest of the year? This is the time of year when many of us think about improving our health and wellbeing. In a time, where we’re all very conscious of our health, courtesy of the long-lasting Coronavirus pandemic, it’s never been more important to look after ourselves both mentally and physically. But where do you start? We’re bombarded with health advice in the news and on social media; eat meat, don’t eat meat, run, don’t run, exercise is good for you, but don’t overdo it. It’s easy to see why many so-called ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ have faded by the middle of January.
Our team is also trying to navigate this minefield, so we’ve asked them for some ideas about how to ‘Jump Start January’ this year. One trend we’ve noticed is the focus on not putting yourself under too much pressure to make huge changes. Making our lives more difficult is something all of us can do without. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the changes made by team FI, as well as some in which you can participate in.
Changing the way we eat
In previous years, David and Kelley, two of our Chelmsford Directors, successfully completed Veganuary. In fact, David was so successful that he maintained his vegan lifestyle for several months. With this success under their belts and knowing how good they both felt the last time, Kelley and Dave are aiming to complete Veganuary this January too and will be sharing some tips and recipes with the team.
Move more to Jump Start your January
Our team is a fairly active bunch, so it came as no surprise that January has seen a wave of new commitments. This January, a number of members from FI Chelmsford are participating in an exercise challenge to raise money for Food Cycle. Between the team, they are running or walking the distance between Sansepolcro, Italy (the birthplace of double entry bookkeeping) and Chelmsford, Essex (its new home), which is 1017 miles!
Tutor Ian has always been a committed runner but has decided to mix things up this year by introducing daily yoga. He has successfully taken on yoga in January before and found it very beneficial. He found a wealth of useful videos on the Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel, which allows him to practise for as little as 7 to 15 minutes. Enough time to feel the benefits but in a way that’s easy to fit into your day.
Also returning to an old favourite, our Marketing Manager, Shelly took up netball in 2021 and plays with a back to netball group. Realising that she’s probably one of the oldest on the court and maybe not the fittest, her goal was to improve her all-round fitness, and she continues to play netball with the group to achieve this.
If you need the structure and atmosphere of a gym, a few team members recommend joining one of the council-owned gyms that are reasonably priced and frequently offer student discounts. You’ll not only have access to your local centre, but also others in the area. This opens up the opportunity to try a range of activities, including ice skating and swimming, and also means you’ll always have somewhere to train.
Taking time for ourselves
While exercise can give us some much-needed time away from the daily grind, we don’t have to pound the pavement to get a break. A recommended activity to get away and relax is spending more time reading. Setting yourself a challenge can help if you’re not someone who would usually pick up a book in their free time. Our Associate Director, Emma, had previously set herself the challenge of reading four library books a month. Reading has so many benefits that many of us are not aware of. It’s the perfect way to wind down before sleep, improves our brain connectivity, and reduces stress, heart rate, blood pressure, and the symptoms of depression.
From a student’s perspective, reading also widens your vocabulary, sharpens your memory, strengthens your writing skills, and makes you more aware of grammar and spelling. In previous years, Emma focused on fiction, but if you’d prefer something that might help you with your motivation and commitment to your goals, there are some great recommendations later in this article.
Jump Start January with Self-care
In this busy world, with work, study, and family commitments filling our time, it can be difficult to commit to a new diet, exercise regime, or hobby. However, looking after ourselves, even by making small changes and personal promises, can help us feel better about our chaotic lives.
In 2022, our Apprenticeship Manager, Rebecca, decided to do just that. She started her day with a 5-minute meditation and positive affirmations. To begin, she reminded herself that she isn’t perfect and that’s OK, that her happiness isn’t dependent on how others perceive her, and that she should look for the bright side in every situation. She also set herself the goal of complimenting another person at least once a day. At the end of each day, she reflected on what went well, what she had learned, and how she could grow.
Those who engage in positive thinking often see a reduction in common colds, improve their cardiovascular health, and have a longer lifespan. Alongside this, thinking positively can help to improve coping skills in stressful situations, reduce the risk of depression, and also helps to achieve other goals such as improving fitness or changing your diet. In some ways, this can be considered the cornerstone of wellbeing.
Think before you drink
Amongst our team, there were no pledges to try ‘Dry January’. This could be due to our tendency to avoid putting ourselves under too much stress. However, it may also be because there are a few birthdays amongst the team this month, but we know that this is the time that many people try to ban the booze. There are many benefits to giving up alcohol. These include feeling healthier and less jaded, saving money, lowering cholesterol, and reducing the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
If you’re not ready to forgo alcohol, then why not try moderation instead? Drinking less can have similar benefits to giving up completely, although these may be subtler but more sustainable. Sleeping better, having more energy, and improvements to your overall health are just a few of these. It may also help you commit to other goals, such as diet and exercise modifications.
We’ve also seen an increase in the availability of non-alcoholic beverages these days. This means that you can still socialise and feel very smug the next day when you’re not suffering from the effects of a boozy night out.
Over the years, we’ve collected tips and recommendations from the team for embarking on and sustaining changes.
Books we are reading
Atomic Habits by James Clear – This book aims to demonstrate ways to build good habits and break bad ones.
Books by Dr. Ranjan Chatterjee – Dr. Chaterjee is a Doctor with over 20 years of experience who believes that by looking at our health as a whole and making small, manageable adjustments we can all improve our wellbeing. He has written a number of books about stress, losing weight and mental health.
Good Life, Good Vibes by Vex King – A mind coach whose book aims to help us all to empower our minds and embrace positive thinking.
Happy by Fearne Cotton – Aims to help you release what’s going on inside your head and keep moving towards the good things in life.
Think like a Monk by Jay Shetty – In his book, Jay focuses on what he believes are the roadblocks to our potential and power, helping you develop the skills and tools to break through negativity, anxiety, overthinking, and peoples expectations.
Podcasts we love
We love a good podcast and when we’re not listening to our FI podcast (which incidentally has lots of episodes on wellbeing, motivation, and mental health), here are some of the others we like:
Once again, Dr. Rajan Chatterjee features highly and his podcast has over 200 episodes offering easy ways to make improvements to your health, expert advice, and also dispels some common myths.
The Power Hour with Adrienne Herbert – what could you achieve if you dedicated an hour a day to improving yourself? This podcast speaks to leading coaches to find out their tips.
Open Mind with Frankie Bridge – In her podcast, Frankie hopes to inspire others to be more open about their mental health by chatting to her guests.
The Doctor’s Kitchen with Dr. Rupy Aujla – Dr. Rupy and his expert guests explore the multiple ways in which diet and lifestyle can help you achieve your healthiest and most fulfilling life.
Our tips to achieving your goals
Setting, sticking to, and achieving your goals is similar whether you’re at work, studying, or trying to make healthier choices. Here are some top tips from our team.
- Visualise what you want and what it will feel like to achieve it.
- Concentrate on 2-3 goals at a time. Too many and you’re less likely to achieve them.
- Break each goal into manageable chunks.
- Find people to support and encourage you.
- Reward yourself and try to tie this to your goal. For example, if your aim is to work out more frequently and after a few weeks you’ve managed it, then you could reward yourself with something that compliments this goal such as a new workout outfit or a massage.
“The journey IS the reward”
Gareth John – FI CEO