Somewhere between carol singers, turkey, opening presents and a cheese board, I took many a moment to be grateful this festive season and to remember that Christmas and New Year can be terribly sad times for many.
We see this on a large scale when we think about the increase in those sleeping on the streets or indeed in the remembrance of lost loved ones that we miss around our Christmas dinner table.
Maybe an illness has visited your home or maybe you simply feel that another year has passed and you feel like your life hasn't moved forward in the way you had hoped. Many of us, despite the NYE hoopla, can actually feel quite low as the countdown starts tonight.
This time of year can bring up hidden emotion, stuff you weren't even aware that you had hidden beneath the surface.
We're starting to understand the absolute importance of mental health in this country but we still have a way to go. It's ok to feel low, it's ok to feel down, and it's important to talk, to have that one person to confide in and to visit the GP if the darkness really starts to take hold and of course my tips below are not meant to take the place of professional advice.
I've thought about those of us who are approaching 2017 with a just little trepidation or anxiety, those of us who need to schedule in 'me time' to help keep ourselves balanced. You see, for me, it's important that I start off the New Year on the right foot and I thought I would share my favourite tips with you.
A very good old friend of mine, (actually we grew up together so she is my oldest and most wise friend of all) once said to me, "Aisling, you need to start the new year as you intend to finish it." And since that year, it's something that I have tried to do.
The older I get, the faster the years seem to go, and I've always found that if you put your heart and soul in to January with a strong focus on 'you', then you will feel all the better from it.
So here are a few of my favourite things to do in January to start this New Year well.
- Get a massage or facial.
Yes, I am aware you have spent all your hard earned cash money over Christmas, but with January being the quietest month of the year for many small businesses, you can be sure to get amazing deals on voucher sites.
- Indulge yourself in a hot bath.
Get some epsom salts if you don't already have some. These are amazing to draw any toxins out of the body which will help you to feel better. Light a scented candle, put a treatment in your hair, a masque on your face, grab a glass of wine and turn on some soothing music. After the hustle and bustle of December, it's important to spent QT on yourself.
- Go for a walk in nature with someone who makes you laugh.
If you have a dog, bring him or her with you and most importantly, someone who makes you laugh. There is nothing better for the soul than spending time laughing.
Set out on an adventure up the mountains or down the sea front. Being in the elements, with fresh air surrounding you, can do more for you than you realise. Make sure to take deep long breaths when your out, surprisingly our bodies can get stressed due to lack of air because we have gotten in to a bad habit of not breathing well. And laughing will force you to breathe deeply (well at least the way I laugh anyway).
- Drink green tea.
Don't overwhelm yourself with New Years Resolutions; you are only setting yourself up to fail if you promise too many things. Instead, try taking up drinking one cup of green tea every morning (even better add a slice of lemon to it).
Green tea has a huge amount of antioxidants in it and you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better you feel and even more so how amazing your skin will look. Trust me, I recommend this tip to all my brides in the run up to their weddings and they all have seen huge improvements.
- Get yourself a diary.
Being organised and on top of things will help you feel more in control, and more importantly will help you feel like you can schedule time for all the priorities in your coming year. Statistics prove that when we write things down we are more likely to achieve them.
- Set five Goals for yourself this year.
They can be big or small things, but make sure they are achievable. So while flying to the moon may not be that achievable, doing a baking class is. Write your chosen five in your diary along with the dates you wish to have achieved them. People feel better when they have achieved something.
Giving yourself small achievable goals and rewarding yourself when you have achieved them will make your year one to remember.
- Clean and Organise.
I know they say "Spring Cleaning" is the time to do it, but I always think starting the New Year well is the right way forward so go through all your belongings, give to charity what you haven't used in a year, box up the stuff worth sentimental value that you want to keep for your future children, and throw out the study you have been meaning to.
You need to make room for new and exciting things in your life, you can only do this by removing the clutter.
- Eat Well.
I know, its easier said than done! But if you are a junk-food-aholic like me, and you really find it difficult to eat well, set aside time to learn how to make a healthy version of junk food you love.
Pinterest is one of my favourite things to do. It's amazing for setting up new board full of healthy recipes among other things. But if you are pizza lover, try substituting it with healthy mini zucchini pizzas or sweet potato chips instead of deep fried chips. If you're not big in to fruit and veg, it might be worth investing in a juicer; that way you can get your five a day in to your breakfast, in one glass full of juice.
Even if you have never tried it before, meditation doesn't have to be a 'hippy dippy' pastime. Make time at night just before bed to spend even ten minutes meditating.
It takes 21 days to created or break a habit. Download a meditation app on your phone and switch off the telly at night. Spend January 'Healing your inner Child' and the rest of your year will thank you.
- Be grateful and do something nice for someone.
It's so important to realise how lucky we are. Sometimes it's hard when live throws you lemons, but really look around you and be ultimately grateful that you are learning great life lessons, you have inspirational people in your life, you have family and friends who support you, amazing pets who make you laugh daily.
Make a note in your diary of one thing you are grateful for each day. Paying it forward is the second part of this tip, find someone either you know or don't and set aside to do something nice for them. Send them a card, a poem, give them a lift, bring them flowers. Whatever it is, go out of your way to help someone this 2016.
These are my tips for a happier New Year. Do you have anything you do to ensure your New Year is always good?