The Global Wellness Institute suggests our lifestyle habits are changing as a result of the pandemic, and the good news is, they’re changing for the better. Top of the list is the focus on strengthening our immune systems, whether through fitness, food or positive thinking.
Louise Chunn is the founder and CEO of welldoing.org, the UK’s leading therapist matching platform, and she’s noticed that many people are altering their lifestyle habits for the better, from taking up a new fitness challenge like Couch to 5K to the choices they make. “There’s a renewed interest in food and nutrition. They were often at odds before the pandemic but there are promising signs that people are going the extra mile to find quality food and making time to cook it well,” she says, noting that moderation is key. “It’s much healthier to improve a little bit of a whole lot of things. Don’t put all the emphasis on perfecting one thing.”
We’re also changing our approach to our leisure time. Slow, human-powered travel – we’re talking biking, walking, even paddle boarding – is replacing adrenaline fuelled pursuits, and a profound value on spending time in nature has replaced our need to hop on a plane for a change of scene. And our homes are becoming hubs of wellness – from simply improving the air quality by throwing open windows whatever the temperature outside, to creating specific areas for exercise and relaxation. Even our bath time has been upgraded. The bathing experience is now a ritual of peace and privacy.
With so many positives emerging from the hardest of years, here are Louise’s top tips for starting 2021 afresh:
- Remind yourself daily that there are certain things you have no control over. People who cope best with change and challenge are the ones who don’t allow anxiety to fill their waking thoughts.
- Find something to look forward to – it might be the anticipation of your garden in spring, the promise of Easter with less restrictions or a weekend away in the summer.
- Moderate the vino – it might feel good in the moment but therapists are seeing more and more people struggling with bad habits developed in lockdown.
- Take a regular walk – away from traffic and other people. A little solitude is good for the soul.
- Get out to a forest – I’m a huge believer that being among trees can help you feel better.
- Seek some talking help if you need it. You might want a therapist who can look at past behaviour to unravel current decisions or a life coach who will help you plot your future after a big life change.
- Commit to calling an old friend once a week. Not a family member or friend who you’re in regular contact with, but set aside half an hour to catch up with a former colleague or distant friend.
- Listen to music – loud. And dance in the kitchen. No one is looking.
- For a few days a month dress, up as if you had important dates or meetings to attend, even if you’re staying home. Putting on smart clothes and doing your hair and make-up has a big psychological effect on well-being.
- As we head into spring, set in motion a deep clean of the house. It’s important to feel you’re living in a well-kept, well-cared for home, even if visitors might have to wait a while longer to see it.