As the busy holiday period approaches you might find yourself more stressed out than usual and with even less time on your hands.  However, it’s vital that you still take time to look after yourself now and into the new year if you want to put yourself in the best position to make 2019 a great one for achieving your goals.

Focusing on ‘me’ time doesn’t need to negatively impact on your family, on the contrary it will give you more energy to focus on what really matters.

Let’s look at six ways to put yourself first so you can enjoy a happy and healthy year ahead.

1.Reduce Stress

It’s surprising how much of a detrimental effect stress has on our bodies and on our health. It is also one of those things that can become habitual as we get wound up about the smallest things in our day, from someone else’s bad driving to the coffee barista not serving us quickly enough.

Of course stress can be caused by much bigger issues too, but if we let the small things affect us so badly, imagine what the loss of a relationship or job, house moving or an illness of someone we love, will have on us.

2.Mindfulness

First off, slow down. Rushing on the roads, getting impatient in queues or shouting at the kids to hurry up, isn’t going to get you to your destination any faster. Try and focus on what you are doing in that moment and don’t let your mind rush ahead to the six other things you need to get done that day.

Mindfulness is one of the best ways to quieten the chatter in our minds, whether you are driving or washing up, notice what is under your hands, if there is any tension in your body whilst you are sitting or standing try and let it go, and above all focus on just what you need to do right now in this moment.

3.Meditation

There are many guides on meditation and many paths to achieve the end result of a calm and clear mind. There are also numerous studies that have been done on how meditation can improve our health, by lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels and allowing us to sleep better.

However, even if you aren’t ready to pursue meditation fully, you can make a start by putting five or ten minutes a day aside just to relax. Sit comfortably, or even lie in bed just before you fall asleep and let the tension seep out of each area of your body. Focus only on your breathing, slowly in and out, and as your mind wanders, don’t get frustrated with yourself, but just try and bring your focus back to your breath.

4.Eat Well

Whether you want to lose weight or whether you just want to improve your diet, one of the best ways of going about this is to eat more natural products and less things that have a list of ingredients and chemicals on the packet as long as your arm. If you are looking to reduce your body fat then read my recent blog post on increasing your metabolism naturally. You could also try some of my recipes for healthy but tasty snacks, such as my Low Carb Peanut Butter Protein Cookies.

Of course this is going to take some time and effort, so don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t perfect 100% of the time. Even small changes can have a big effect cumulatively, and who knows, you may even enjoy your time in the kitchen, especially if you slow down and are mindful as you chop the vegetables or mix the ingredients for those delicious cookies you are making.

5.Take Time for Exercise

You know my focus is on fitness but if you are just starting out even walking can be a great first step. Walking is one of the best things you can do because firstly you can go at your own pace, secondly you don’t need any special equipment and thirdly you are outside in the fresh air. Also walking can be squeezed into anyone’s day, take a walk instead of a cab, get off a stop early from the bus, or just walk around the park at lunchtime. I promise that you will feel better after just a few days and you might even have saved yourself some money as an added bonus. After that you may want to step your fitness level up a bit and head to the gym or take up a sport you are going to enjoy.

6.Pamper Yourself

Finally, don’t forget that all important step of pampering yourself. This might just be a Sunday afternoon spent reading a favourite novel or it might be a trip to a local spa where you can indulge in a few rejuvenating treatments and truly relax.

It’s also important to get enough sleep and making a ritual of going to bed early after a long bath and with fresh sheets to dive between can even turn bedtime into something special.

If you get into the routine of working on these six areas of your life now there will be no need for New Year resolutions, you will be more than ready to get 2017 off to a flying start.