First work week of the year and I am intent on not giving myself a hard time about anything! So often we begin our years with a health overhaul on the horizon. We want to change our weight, fitness, how we manage stress, how we eat, how much time we spend on screens – the list is endless. Working on the healthier self is utterly fantastic. And I will continue to have something in mind that I wish to pursue every year. But this year my ‘healthier self’ is looking to a most important healthy lifestyle goal – Be Kind To Yourself.
I worked on this during 2020 too, and with a goal of embedding more regular yoga sessions into my work day, I feel I did quite well. I took weekends off. When on holidays I didn’t ‘have to do my yoga’. Across Christmas, the tree is taking up the space of my yoga mat in the living room. This year, as we all continue to struggle and cope with the on-costs of Covid-19 and get through our days, I feel that being kind is the most important healthy lifestyle goal for 2021. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Phone your parents more often. Get the newspaper or some flowers for your neighbour. These small acts are filled with care and attention which we are all craving. Many of us don’t get enough hugs these days, so make them virtual with your small attentions. And when slippage happens with a health goal, be kind to yourself and let it go. We begin again.
Goal Setting During The Pandemic
I always encourage setting targets and goals with time frames when trying to improve your healthy self. And this year is no different. But it doesn’t matter if it’s January or June, just set targets and work towards them. If you e.g. want to lose weight then set an achievable target on a weekly or monthly basis. If you hit the target, well done you. If you don’t quite manage it, that’s okay you just keep going. And if you gain weight (accidentally), then maybe you need some extra support. Remember: be kind to yourself.
Goal Setting and Questions to Ask Yourself
Use this year of being kind to learn about yourself and what works for you.
- Does a meal plan work? What are my favourite foods without which I feel utterly deprived?
- Do I need to count calories or does it make me obsessive?
- Can I have a beer or glass of wine on the weekend or does it always turn into more? Should I do dry-January?
- Will I log on for zoom personal training, or any kind of class?
- Am I better off walking in the park with a friend or should I go running alone?
- Am I better at exercising before or after work? Or should I thread the exercise into my work day and week?
- What makes me feel good when I am beginning to feel down?
- What friends can I buddy up with virtually or otherwise to support me?
- What can I put into my day to enjoy when I have finished work?
- What time do I need to go to bed to wake feeling refreshed?
- Do I really need to have my mobile in my bed-room?
- What can I do to help me sleep better?
Above are just some of the questions you can ask yourself when setting goals and figuring how you respond to life generally. There are many questions and areas we can focus on, when working on a healthy lifestyle. Try to not set too many goals. If you are struggling with your mental health, perhaps focus on one area of your life, and perhaps just one goal to achieve each day.
Goal Setting and Ageing
I find that as I age I am so much nicer to myself than I was in my 20s or 30s, especially in the realm of achievement and where I ought to be with ‘stuff’. Whether that is in terms of work, life goals or indeed health, I think it just gets easier as you age. You are not so hard set about being perfect. You have learned that it is human to lapse, to not quite be able to hit the gym, or go for the run, or stick to the kcal count. And that is absolutely okay. Achieving goals involves learning about yourself. What works for you? What gets in the way? What is more likely to work or less likely. We are all different and our health goals are all different too.
Above all this year, focus on being kind to yourself. I suspect in the grand scheme of things it is the goal which is more likely to drive achievement of your other healthy lifestyle goals than you might suspect.