Perfect Ten

Poppy Cross shares her ten top tips to optimise your health and happiness through the winter

You may find that your motivation to move wains right alongside temperatures and daylight hours. It’s cold and dark; why on earth would you leave your cosy nest? Who hasn’t felt that way at some point? The key, then, is to keep these optimal survival tips in mind because winter is actually a great time to be more active than ever – even if it’s just to stay warm. Winter is stressful. Your mood can suffer from a lack of vitamin D and you’re more likely to feel depressed. Then there’s the run-up to Christmas; the pressure to buy perfect gifts; juggling your work/life balance; and fitting in the festivities. In short, it can leave you exhausted. Yet, all this means that it’s actually more important than ever to keep energy and spirits high to get through the season in the happiest healthiest way possible. Here’s how. Oh, and here’s wishing you a very merry Christmas!

  1. Set SMART goals
    SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time specific. These types of goals ensure you’re clear on exactly what you want to achieve and how and when you’re going to get there. Write these goals down and allocate time to complete them before your week starts. When you have a plan and you know the goal, you’re already half way there.
  2. Buddy up
    Find a friend or two, or even join a club, and make a regular commitment to show up and get sweaty. Remember, the more the merrier. You’ll have a laugh, meet new people and make deeper connections with friends at the same time.
  3. Be mindful in nature
    Stress levels can soar at the festive time of year. The number one way to combat stress? Step away from your smart phone and into the stillness of nature. Even if you only have time for a five-minute walk, the calming effects of being in natural surroundings and can be highly impactful. You could also download a mindfulness app such as Calm, and a meditation app such as Sam Harris’s Waking Up to help unlock your optimal mind and body potential. If you can escape the city for a weekend to soak up some country air, even better
  4. Go sober sometimes
    While it’s fine to have a tipple or two during the week, drinking too much is undoubtedly a festive hazard. Try going out and staying sober on some occasions to swerve hangovers and ensure that your hard work at the gym isn’t undermined. Seedlip’s mocktail combine teas, brines, salts and shrubs to create all-natural dry, sour and bitter savoury non-alcoholic healthy infusions.
  5. Get enough sleep
    In Professor Matthew Walker’s book, Why We Sleep he explores how closely our health and longevity are dependent on adequate sleep. Yet lack of proper restorative rest is increasingly neglected, despite deficient sleep being associated with life-threatening diseases, from Alzheimer’s to cancer, obesity to diabetes. Why We Sleep also explains how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep. Read it; it might just help you to steer you clear of too much festive cheer.
  6. Dress the part
    Look good, feel good! It may sound trivial but when you look the part, you act the part. Invest in some activewear that’s going to inspire you to move and smash your workouts. My current favourites are Ultracor, Carbon 38, Sweaty Betty and P.E. Nation.
  7. Take supplements
    Most of us who live in the U.K. are deficient in vitamin D in winter so it’s worth taking a supplement. To see what else you could be deficient in, book a blood test before splashing your cash on supplements you don’t need.
  8. Keep mindful about consumption
    Special occasions when you let your hair down and allow excessive consumption are all well and good – until your jeans don’t fit. There’ll be many occasions this season which qualify for that wild abandon but remember to choose nutritious options which aren’t a minefield for your health. Of course it’s all about balance so be a little bit naughty and a little bit nice.
  9. Get fresh
    Mix up your workouts and try something new. If you’re usually stuck on a treadmill, keep things fresh with a dance class, trampolining, a hike somewhere beautiful, HIIT class or hot yoga session. Get creative and keep your mind and body engaged at the same time.
  10. Set a challenge
    If you’ve ever dreamed of running a marathon, climbing a mountain or even learning something new that scares you, set yourself the challenge and work up to it. This will keep you motivated and once you’ve accomplished your challenge you will feel empowered to keep achieving. And that’s what it’s all about.

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