The new year is in full swing, but it doesn’t have to be a period of misery and restraint. In 2022 we’ve done away with restrictive New Year’s resolutions and instead embraced taking things at our own pace, practising mindfulness and being kind to ourselves.
This year, instead of cutting out food groups or committing to an unrealistic work out routine, practise small acts of self-care like the ones below as part of a balanced and fulfilling life.
You can thank us later.
CHECK OUT: Be kind to yourself - 11 easy ideas for self care
Be kind to yourself - nine easy ideas for self care
Too long have we thought of exercise as purely a weight loss tool, or even a punishment for eating our favourite foods. Finding an exercise or sport you truly enjoy (it is possible, trust us!) is a great form of 'me time' where you can switch off and celebrate the ability of your body to move and make you feel good. Stuck for ideas? Here's why you should give boxing a go this year.
If you're queasy around needles and don't want to splash out on a salon acupuncture session, a purse friendly acupressure mat is a great alternative to treat aches and pains and get that all important chi (life energy) flowing. Used for thousands of years in China, this type of treatment is said to create equilibrium within the body, balancing out the positive and negative energy which, if unbalanced, can cause physical illness and emotional issues, too. A sure fire mood booster at your finger (or toe) tips.
Your evenings might be busy but swapping out an episode of your fave TV show for a relaxing bath is a great way to get some screen-free time, clear your sinuses and, with a luxurious bath bomb, smell fab, too! [Some studies have even shown](https://www.theguardian.com/society/shortcuts/2018/oct/23/why-a-daily-bath-helps-beat-depression-and-how-to-have-a-good-one here) that a daily bath can help to consistently lift your mood, so switch off the telly and turn those taps on.
Food is the ultimate indulgence, and while it's important to maintain a balanced diet for good overall physical and mental health, there's not much that can beat tucking into a comforting bowl of spag bol or a luxury chocolate bar when you're in desperate need of some R&R. These low calorie options mean you can have the best of both worlds.
At the pricier-but-worth-it end of the spectrum, a weekend spent at one of the country's many hotel and spa sites will work wonders for your mood. In the UK we are lucky to have loads of spa towns, where the water is naturally hot and enriched with feel good minerals, which means we're spoiled rotten when it comes to choice. Got with a partner, a friend, or – and we can't recommend this enough – on your own, for the ultimate me-time. Check out our picks of the best here.
Long gone are the days when meditation was strictly the domain of hippy-dippy earth types, adding it into your day can make a real difference to how you cope with challenges thrown your way. It takes practice, but there are plenty of apps and YouTube videos to fill you in on the basics. Once you've got the hang of it, try experimenting with sound baths, yoga nidra and manifestation exercises. Learning how to empty your mind can have lifelong benefits and help with anxiety and depression.
When we're feeling low and frazzled, often our grooming is the first thing to go out the window. But looking good can be a fast-track to feeling good, and when we've been running on empty and putting everyone else's needs before our own, even just an hour spent under the care of someone tending to us can elevate our moods. Because, hun, you're worth it.
Studies have shown that loneliness can have as big an impact on our health as smoking or obesity. According to charity Campaign to End Loneliness, as many as 45% percent of UK adults reported feeling lonely, and this was only exacerbated during the pandemic and successive lockdowns. The good news is that we're free to see our friends whenever we want now, and you don't have to head to a busy pub or restaurant to do it. However cautious you're feeling about socialising now, sometimes the best quality time with a friend can be had taking a leisurely stroll through the park, or having a cuppa at home. The power of friendship is not to be underestimated.
If it's available to you, regularly seeing a trained professional to help go through issues or disconnect the link between feelings, thoughts and behaviours can be the ultimate form of self-care. There are loads of talking therapies out there, from traditional counselling to CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), and it's always worth speaking to your doctor if you think you could benefit from this kind of support. Therapy has shed much of its stigma in recent years as opening up about our mental health has become more mainstream, and long may it continue.
If you're lucky enough to have a weekend off (or a day off in the week), follow many positive social media influencers by trying your hardest to stay away from posting on your favourite social media platforms and enjoy the moment. Still take photos, of course, but focus on being present in the moment instead. Honestly, you'll have SO much more free time and notice the small things more, instead of getting stuck down a comparison hole.
Having a task to focus on does wonders for your mental health, and gives you something else to think about for a while. As well as giving you a boost, you can use your craft time to make something for someone you love or transform something that you haven't seen in a while. Are you a fan of Stacey Solomon? Her hacks are AMAZING and there's so many to choose from, from her Instagram page to her organisation TV show Sort Your Life Out. Get some more inspiration here.
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Last year, TOWIE’s Yazmin Oukhellou, who’s currently living in Dubai, opened up to heat about her wellness habits – and she would know what works, given she’s recently founded her own Wellness Retreats business.
"Every morning, I try to put on a morning meditation before I get out of bed just to start my day off positive[ly]," she said. "I think for me, self-love and also gratitude is a really, really big thing. So I try to do that every single morning and also before I go to sleep, I put on a sleep meditation to unblock my chakras and I think that really, really does help.
"I've also got my wellness retreat in Marrakesh and that's all about self-care, self-love and building yourself up as a person and just being the best version of yourself. So self-care is definitely very, very important to me."