By Gabi James
01 Jan 19
Why not think about setting yourself some clear cut goals for the year ahead, and do some good while you're at it?
It seems like a lot of rules simply don't apply through the month of November and into the start of the new year. A lot of us are having celebrations and gatherings of sorts what seems like constantly, eating much richer food more often than we might be used to, spending larger amounts of money than in other months, and possibly letting all thoughts of responsibilities, training, and extra commitments fall to the wayside.
And that is no bad thing! It's important for everybody to feel they can have a good period of time to decompress, de-stress and lighten the pressure they put on themselves. Even balancing professional and personal lives can prove really tricky at the best of times, and especially during the festive period. Add in even more activities like volunteering or keeping up an exercise regime and many people feel they are pushing the bounds of their human capacities - and justifiably. Present shopping, mince-pie baking (and eating), work dos and family reunions require a lot of time and emotional energy, so it's normal for other things to peter out.
Return to normality
But just as it can be really psychologically healthy to indulge and let go of anxieties for a while, it's often just as beneficial to get back into a routine with a renewed sense of purpose and stamina. One really great way of doing this is setting yourself realistic targets to reach later on in the year, rather than expecting an immediate turn-around after a month of indulgence and relaxation.
For a lot of people, physical exercise isn't just great for a healthy body, but a key to keeping a healthy mind. If you like walking or running, hiking or biking, you can find a huge range of different organised events and races to sign up for now and give yourself a good few months of training.
Test out those shiny new trainers, bikes, swimming costumes...
While most of the places have now been filled, there are still a few charities taking applications for participants in the London Marathon which will take place on 28th April 2019, so you might be able to snag a charity place even if you missed out on the initial ballot. Organisations like Shelter and Parkinsons UK and Tommy's Team still have online forms which you can fill in and keep your fingers crossed!
But even if you don't get onto the London Marathon, there are plenty of other great events. You can apply to run in the Great North Run, a great race which takes place in the North East on 8th September 2019, and is a little less daunting than a full marathon as it's only a half. There's also the Great Manchester Run if you feel you might be ready a bit earlier - it happens on 19th May and also stretches a half marathon or 10k.
And there are also loads of cycling events to consider, if you prefer being on wheels. There genuinely is something for all abilities, locations and tastes, so in the name of one popular bike ride: no excuses!
Something to look forward to
Whatever activity floats your boat (maybe literally...), just getting yourself signed up can totally revolutionise your mindset and get you back into a really productive mode. Having that set date in your mind is a wonderful form of motivation and helps smash those excuses and evasions which seem so tempting in the dark, dull month of January. What we would say is the most wonderful option of all is to design your own challenge and targets while still taking place in an organised event and getting the buzz and team spirit that comes with it. And how can you do this? Well, you could take a little inspiration from our Wonderful Week.
Whether your training would mean one leisurely jog around the park on Sunday mornings, a cycling your daily commute, or a rigorous 6 day running plan complete with meticulously mapped out meals, sitting down and sketching out what you aim to do and what results you're hoping to see makes a world of difference. Think about what times you hope to meet and when, or how soon you want to be able to complete a certain distance.
It's also a really nice idea to try and get other people on board, too. It can be a fun way to keep up morale in the office, something that is often tricky just after the Christmas break. Getting everybody to take a quick jog around midday, or as a refreshing way to banish that foggy January morning mist can make for a more energised office. Or it might help you maintain the family bonds you forged over charades and selection boxes of chocolates. You might have a friend who's joining you in trying out Dry January and find that a bracing bike ride is the perfect way to blow off steam and forget about your evening glass of wine.
Giving is not just for Christmas
Keep up the generous spirit that accompanies the holiday season while you're getting yourself back into mental and physical shape. Not only will you be helping yourself, you could also be doing a world of good. It's as simple as setting up a Wonderful fundraising page and filling out your story. Tell the world what you'll be doing, and pick out a Wonderful charity - or your own chosen charity - to fundraise for, and you'll see the donations start rolling in!
The great thing about fundraising with Wonderful is that whichever cause you do choose to support, you can rest assured that they will be receiving every single penny that your efforts raise. Wonderful doesn't take anything for providing the fundraising service, nor does it deduct money to cover hard costs like card processing fees or running a website. And knowing that can really give you the extra boost to run that last mile or keep the pedals turning even on the cold wintery evenings before the weather turns!
So set yourself some goals for the year ahead: it will work wonders for your mind, your professional life, your body, and your community.