What’s Your New Year Going To Look Like?
A new year signals a fresh start for many people. A time to reflect on the past 12 months, to look at where you’ve been and where you’re going. To take a deep breath before jumping into another year. How do you want your New Year to look? What might help you to get there and make it a little easier, a little more productive, a little healthier, a little more fun, a little brighter? Forget resolutions, forget pressures. Just general ideas, goals and wishes. Here’s a look at a few product types that might help you kick start your New Year.
Stretch & Exercise Tools
Let’s ditch the “get fit”, “join the gym” and “lose weight” resolutions that too often aren’t realistic or enjoyable. Let’s instead make it simply about getting a little more movement in our days whenever possible, to whatever degree you personally can. Exercise doesn’t have to cost anything, so a little walking around the neighbourhood, stretches on your bed or dancing around in the living room all count. Doing squats while the kettle boils or push-ups on against the kitchen counter while waiting for the toaster to work its magic are two I like to do. You may find online exercise tutorial videos or yoga step-by-step diagrams for free online, too.
Some people may benefit from home exercise equipment and accessories to target specific needs, provide a little motivation and give you something to do indoors in unappealing weather. Home gym equipment like treadmills can be fantastic for cardio if you have the space and money for it. If not, you could consider smaller versions like fold-away exercise bikes and slimline elliptical machines. Or you can pare it back to the basics: small step machines, under-desk pedal exercisers, plastic steps, hand weights, exercise mat, yoga ball, resistance bands, etc.
The smaller items and accessories can be pretty versatile, not to mention cheaper and more suitable to those with limited space. You can build in small exercises in the day, just picking something up when you can and designing a mini workout that suits you.
Again, it’s not about olympic efforts. If you’re chronically ill, fatigued or disabled, “exercise” as is often advertised in the media may not be appealing or even possible. But any small movements count and they all add up to support your joints, cardiovascular system, your bones and muscles, your mental health and just about everything else in between.
Dental & Skincare
Looking after our skin and oral health is so important, but investing the time and effort can be tricky when we’re not well or we’re overwhelmed with other things that need doing.
With oral health, it’s more than just brushing twice a day. It’s about getting good brushing action, giving the tongue a quick clean, ensuring you have a good toothbrush, using mouthwash and doing a little of the dreaded flossing when possible.
With skincare, it’s our face and our body that should be tended to. I don’t get to moisturising my arms and legs in the colder months because I can’t bear the lack of clothing, but it’s a good idea to do a little here and there. Look after your feet, file and moisturise on occasion. Keep your hands happy with nourishing hand cream. Cleanse and moisturise your face, and use more specialised products to tackle any concerns.
Getting into a stronger routine with our skin and our teeth can keep us motivated to do it, especially when sticking to it long enough to see some results. If we make these self-care routines a priority on the to-do list, we’re more likely to find the time to do them, too. It doesn’t have to take long, so make sure you have suitable tools first off and then do a little when time allows because it’s better than nothing.
Products To Keep You Warm & Well
Winter warmers are often needed well into the New Year, especially in the UK. Many people with chronic conditions painfully feel the cold and it’s important to stay warm, especially if there’s extra vulnerability involved such as having a heart condition or being elderly.
If you’re heading out, think thermal socks, layering clothing, hats, scarves and gloves. If you’re indoors, think slipper socks, arm warmers, snuggly jumpers. There are also gadgets to help you stay warm. For instance, rechargeable hand warmers for cold paws. I use an OCOOPA hand warmer and find it pretty awesome, especially as I live with Raynaud’s and erythromelalgia.
Blankets to lounge on the sofa are great, but for when you need something to warm you up from the inside out, a heated throw may be just the thing. I’ve only just started using one and I absolutely love it as it’s large enough to wrap around me when propped up in bed and it has various heat levels. Electric throws, as well as under blankets for beds, are usually very cheap to run. It’s estimated (in 2022) that they can cost on average 3p an hour, which is a bargain compared to the extortionate cost of central heating, even if you only use the blanket instead of the heating for an hour or two a day.
What’s also becoming quite popular are blanket hoodies, which look like oversize hoodies with a kangaroo pocket on the front. Not the most fashionable things but actually pretty awesome. They’re large and thus very comfortable to wrap yourself up in, but the quality, price and thickness does vary. Go for one with a sherpa-style inner if you want more warmth.
Supplements can be good for anyone wanting to boost their wellbeing and generally support their overall health, top-up lower levels of certain elements, or target particular health concerns. There are so many brands and variants on the market now that it can be hard to know what’s effective, so do your research first, compare prices by taking into account the pack size and ingredient strength, and take a look at reviews. It might also be a good idea to get an updated blood test done to check for any deficiencies, especially for the basics like iron, B12, Vitamin D.
For basic supplementation, things like multivitamins, probiotics, Omega 3, Vitamin C and Vitamin D are popular, especially the latter as lack of ongoing exposure to the sun year-round leaves many people deficient in the so-called sunshine vitamin to some degree.
For targeting certain concerns are things like Magnesium (muscles, sleep), Glucosamine & Chondroitin (joints, arthritis), Biotin & Zinc (hair, skin), turmeric & curcumin (pain, joints), pre & pro-biotics (gut health), B Vitamins (fatigue), iron (fatigue & deficiency symptoms), collagen (skin), ginseng & ginkgo biloba (cognition, memory), Ashwagandha (stress, anxiety, sexual function, blood pressure, memory), CBD, and lots more.
Always speak to your GP or pharmacist before starting a new supplement, especially if you take other prescription medications or supplements, and ask a professional if you have any queries or concerns.
Always keep your eye out for deals and discounts. Sometimes it can be better value for money to stock up on things you know you’ll be using when they’re available on a 3 for 2 offer, such as most supplements at Boots (UK).
★ Beauty Gummies @ Boots (Selenium, Biotin, Zinc)
★ Feroglobin Liquid Gentle Iron (Plus Vit D, Ginseng, Co-Q10)
★ Glucose & Chondroitin Capsules (with rosehip, turmeric & ginger)
Remember Your Supplements / Meds
How can you strengthen your supplement habit and stay on top of your medications? If you take various things, it can be hard to remember to take them as regularly as you should. Or you can be left scratching your head unable to remember whether you’ve just swallowed them or not.
There are a few ways to help you get organised and remember your meds or supplements. For instance, you could draft up a basic weekly tick-chart. You can write them out by hand but it’ll be more time-intensive. The more convenient way is to do one on the computer, say via Excel / Numbers, and print copies for each week. You can more easily adjust as required whenever you add or drop a particular product.
Another option is a reminder app on your phone. There are various options, paid and free, for setting reminders and alarms to repeat at set times on set days. It depends on your requirements but I have one to remember my mum’s evening meds, which she now uses on her own phone. I went for the basic “Reminder” app on the Apple App Store, which is really easy to use and offers good versatility for reminder presets and sounds. It makes the process of taking meds a little less rubbish when you hear a cat meowing or a baby giggling as your reminder.
What can help speed the process up in the mornings and evenings is a pill organiser. I’ve personally used AUVON pill boxes before and would recommend them. The ones I’ve bought on Amazon have been reasonably priced, good quality, easy to use, more comfortable for people with arthritis or problematic joints, colourful, and with clear text marking the days on the lids.
Again, it depends on how many meds you have and whether they’re split in the day as to what may suit. For instance, you can get a 7 day pill box organiser with one compartment per day, or a 7 day organiser with two compartments for AM/PM pill-taking. You an also get small boxes for taking your meds out with you, which I think are great to have to hand just in case.
Stress-Relief & Management Tools
Do you find that stress is a problem for you? It is for most people, to some degree. In small amounts, it can be helpful and motivating, but chronic stress can take a toll mentally and physically. There are various tools and techniques to lower stress or help manage it, whether it’s through providing a little joy or providing a distraction.
A few examples: adult colouring, crosswords or sudoku, acupressure mat, Tisserand aromatherapy rollerballs, CBD, walking and getting out into nature, breathing exercises,
Clean, Organise & Minimise
There can be something very cathartic about decluttering and tidying up your space. Some people find busy-ness and stuff all around them to be comforting and energising, whereas for others it can be anxiety-inducing and frustrating. If you fall into the latter group, getting your home (or work) space tidied up and organised can be a big step to bringing some calm into your life. Then again, I feel like decluttering and organising in our house in a constant work-in-progress that’s never finished because we simply don’t have enough space, but it’s far better than before I started (I think).
If you have health or mobility issues, take your time and pace yourself. Put some music on. There’s no rush. Break down what can seem like a mammoth goal into teeny tiny pieces and celebrate each step of the way for a job well done.
If you’re wracked with indecision when decluttering, stop. Breathe. Think about whatever it is you’re unsure of keeping and what purpose it serves, or how you’d feel if it was no longer there. If you can’t decide and you’re getting antsy, take a break and come back when you feel more motivated and decisive. Again, little steps. Collate things along the way for recycling, perhaps selling online for earn a few pennies back, or donating to charity.
If you don’t need to declutter, how about deep cleaning? What about the places that barely get a look in, like the utensil and cutlery drawer? Scrub things down, attack the things you’ve been putting off, unblock the drains, clean the blinds, get broken things fixed and you’ll feel much better for it.
Cleaning up for a fresh new year isn’t just about the physical space around you, either. Is there anything else that might need decluttering, minimising and organising? Your relationships, your computer desktop full of documents, the countless blog post drafts you never finished, your email inbox, the thousands of photos on your phone. Put a list together and work through it, taking breaks as you go. It doesn’t all have to be done in one day, week or month. If you really want to get something done but it takes ages because you can only do a little at a time, so be it.
Maybe it’s time to kick start your new with a bit of a spring clean and a refresh with better organisation. In terms of products, I’ve found these simple white plastic boxes, no lids, to be brilliant as they come in various sizes for organising cupboards and drawers. I also like larger boxes with lids for larger items to go on top of wardrobes or for big storage in the garage.
What tools might you need? For organisation: Plastic tubs and fabric storage baskets. Funky desktop organisers. Cupboard stand inserts to organise your kitchenware, mugs and plates. Jars and labels for smaller items. For deep cleaning: Arm yourself with sponges, a bowl, clothes or paper towels, specialised cleaning products or natural ingredients (like bicarb of soda, water and vinegar).
For Example :
Bookish Inspiration For A Helping Hand
Self-help style books can be great for making us think and reflect, giving us the kick up the bum when it’s most needed, or providing us with a little inspiration. These are also good options for dipping in and out of whenever you have a moment, which is ideal when your concentration is shot. There are books – also available as Kindle or audiobooks – on just about every topic you could possibly want a helping hand with, from decluttering and organising, to boosting your confidence or managing anxiety.
Are you an over-thinker and over-stresser? Learning to give less f*cks about things, without turning to apathy, can be a good thing for the over thinkers among us. This ties into the desire for lower stress levels because worrying and overthinking the small things throughout the days is exhausting and can cause a lot of perpetual stress.
Part of dealing with this is about working out priorities and what matters to you. Another part of it is letting go of what other people think, as well as letting go of the pressures we put on ourselves.
Life is a funny thing. At the end of the day, it’s your life and – cheesy cliche incoming – you only live once. What matters, what really matters when all is said and done? What worry and anxiety is useful or warranted, and what only causes you hurt?
To get you in the frame of mind for less overthinking and over-stressing, there are books that may just give you the perspective shift you need and the motivation you need to put it into practice.
Do you already have a hobby that you can enjoy and lose yourself in? If so, great! If not, would you like to find one? It’s hard when unwell and when you don’t have the time or energy to spare to even consider a hobby, but perhaps there’s something you can do that gives you a little pleasure, helps you express yourself, or gives you a sense of achievement.
Think big and small hobbies depending on your situation. For instance: Creative writing, exercise, hiking, walking, yoga, reading, blogging, online courses, painting, drawing and sketching, diamond art, photography, jewellery-making, stone painting, knitting, collecting, digital art, sewing, puzzles, scrapbooking, flower pressing, writing a book, poetry, gardening. Let’s make your new year about finding what works for you and making time to indulge in the things you enjoy.
What do you need to start your hobby? Are there online tips and resources you can use for free? Are there any products you need to research and buy?
★ Hobbycraft (UK) has a brilliant range of arts and crafts goodies for countless interests and hobbies.
★ Diamond Art Kit under £10 – Various Designs
BPA-Free Reusable Water Bottles
Keeping hydrated is important, and reusable water bottles can be a versatile solution that benefits both you and the environment. Water intake needs aren’t the same for everyone so it might be worth calculating your average intake to see if it’s optimal for your needs. Remember too that there are dangers of drinking too much.
At home and out of home, I tend to just use my BPA-free reusable plastic water bottles. With painful joints in my hands and a new degree of clumsiness, carrying a bottle and using the wrist strap means no more accidents going up and down the stairs. When out and about, I need water on hand because of dry mouth and for taking medications.
Water tastes gorgeous out of these bottles, too. They’re easy to clean, so you can just wash it out before refilling and give it a proper washing-liquid clean once or twice a week. The only problem is leaving them can lead to them smelling funky, so you might need to add some bicarb and do a good wash out if it hasn’t been used in a little while, even if it’s just a few days.
When looking for a water bottle, check that it’s BPA-free because it’s better for your health. Then think about what you need. What size is suitable? I have a 500ml one I use at home, and a smaller 350ml one for taking in my bag. How do you want to drink out of it? My main at-home bottle has a flip-top lid and small spout, which I find easier than a screw-lid and larger hole, and easier to clean than one with a straw. However, if I can’t sit up properly then a straw is ideal. It depends what you prefer.
Maybe you want to make one of your New Year goals to help your health with good fluid and nutrition intake. You can get your fluid intake through water or squash in your reusable bottle, and boost your nutrition through juice or smoothies.
There are various brands and designs available but most of mine have been Super Sparrow that I’ve bought on Amazon. Reusable bottles aren’t usually cheap but I’ve found them to be a great investment.
★ Super Sparrow Titan Sports Bottle (various colours & sizes)
★ Super Sparrow Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated (hot or cold use)
Monitor Your Health
Modern day manufacturing and technological advances have brought us a plethora of new devices and gadgets to help us monitor our health. Whether you want something relevant to a specific health concern or you just want to keep an eye on things generally, there are different ways to do it.
A few examples: Blood pressure monitors. Glucose monitors (not just for diabetes but those with concerns over high or low glucose levels throughout the day). Smart watches and fitness trackers. Finger pulse oximeter (which usually measure heart rate as well as oxygen levels). Home blood testing and health check kits. Bathroom scales (basic or advanced for calculating BMI and transferring data to your mobile).
★ OxiPro2 Finger Oximeter (NHS Supplied)
Calendar or Diary
If you’re anything like me and can’t figure out what day it is or remember when certain appointments are, a calendar or diary is pretty vital. It’s personal preference as to how you do it, but we have a calendar in the kitchen so everyone can see what’s what, quickly and easily. For the last couple of years I’ve also kept a calendar on my computer with a little more information, where it’s easier to search back for certain events by keyword when required.
If you’re going for a calendar, pick something you really like and you’ll want to use. We have a memo calendar in the kitchen, which is usually pretty cheap and gives you a space for writing with dry-wipe pens at the top. If you’re going for a digital calendar, you might already have the app you need built in to your device, such as the Calendar on iPhone, iPad and MacBook. This way is really helpful as they can be linked on the Cloud, allowing you to view your calendar anywhere on any linked device. If not, there are free and paid-for apps that give you flexibility over your calendar input so you can make it work for you.
Fan of journalling or curious about giving it a go? A journal or diary isn’t just for teenage girls, as recent years have helped to prove. More people are finding the value in journalling, of all ages and genders and lifestyles. It’s totally yours and you decide what goes in there, how much detail you go into and how often you write.
You could set a goal to write each day, or just write when the mood takes you. The main thing is you find some benefit from it. Perhaps it’s a sense of relief to get your emotions and thoughts down onto paper. Maybe it helps you sleep better if you write it all out before bed. Maybe it keeps your thoughts in order, or helps you to express yourself rather than having all that rumination building up with nowhere to go.
Choose a journal you like the look of and that best suits your preferences, like whether it’s wire bound or not, whether it’s lined or not. Get yourself a nice pen and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s your journal, your choice as to how you use it.
How Will You Kick-Start Your New Year?