Soothe your soul with small life changes and plenty of sleep

Harper's Bazaar (UK) - - Beauty Bazaar -

The cosy con­cept of hygge is never more nec­es­sary than dur­ing those bleak, tra­di­tion­ally self-deny­ing weeks af­ter the Christ­mas festivities, when we vainly pur­sue that elu­sive ‘New Year, New You’. Dr Ilona Boni­well, a lead­ing spe­cial­ist in pos­i­tive psy­chol­ogy, says that over­am­bi­tious New Year’s res­o­lu­tions will al­most al­ways end in dis­ap­point­ment. ‘The vast ma­jor­ity of big changes you try to make in your life are not very suc­cess­ful,’ says Boni­well. ‘Be­ing kinder to your­self means be­ing re­al­is­tic and al­low­ing your­self to make tiny changes.’

For ex­am­ple, if you want to ex­er­cise more this year, set­ting a tar­get of gym ses­sions ev­ery day is prob­a­bly doomed straight­away. In­stead, says Boni­well, choose an ac­tiv­ity that is plea­sur­able, and tell your­self you will start do­ing it once a week, then in­crease it from there. Like­wise, if you are look­ing to lower your al­co­hol con­sump­tion, hav­ing a glass or two once or twice a week is more eas­ily ad­hered to than leap­ing head first into ‘dry Jan­uary’.

‘It’s a lot less scary and a lot more re­al­is­tic.

Try­ing to make too big changes can lead to dra­mat­i­cally mis­er­able con­se­quences – when we fail, we be­gin to en­gage in neg­a­tive be­hav­iour,’

Boni­well says.

Jan­uary can also be a time of strug­gling with in­som­nia. Anx­i­ety about re­turn­ing to work is of­ten to blame, but win­ter it­self can be a cul­prit, ac­cord­ing to Dr Guy Mead­ows, a sleep ex­pert and the clin­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Sleep School. ‘Not so long ago, we were in­cred­i­bly in tune with the sea­sons,’ he says. ‘It’s only since the ar­rival of the light bulb that we have started ig­nor­ing our nat­u­ral sleep­ing drives. In­stead of adapt­ing our be­hav­iour to the change in sea­sons, we keep it the same all year round.’

En­sur­ing a good night’s rest means tak­ing a con­scious de­ci­sion to switch off. That means putting down the phone or tablet and get­ting a tra­di­tional, Wi-Fi-free alarm clock. ‘If you spend time on an iPad or tablet be­fore bed, as op­posed to read­ing a book, there is a re­duc­tion in mela­tonin and a de­lay in sleep on­set. Gad­gets emit blue light that af­fects the sen­si­tive cells in our eyes, which have clev­erly evolved to de­tect the amount of light in our en­vi­ron­ment,’ he ex­plains. ‘Putting a phone in front of your face be­fore bed is like putting a mini sun in front of it.’

If, con­versely, you are strug­gling with a lack of day­light, Kodobio Sen­sory Ther­apy at Michaeljohn’s Bel­gravia Medispa in­cor­po­rates the same light stim­u­la­tion used in the treat­ment of sea­sonal af­fec­tive dis­or­der, com­bined with dif­fer­ent aro­mas to im­prove mood and re­duce anx­i­ety. Pro­fes­sor Tim Ja­cob, who de­vel­oped the treat­ment, says it is ‘like mind­ful­ness or med­i­ta­tion, but with­out the need for tech­nique or train­ing’. sr

Win­ter Clar­i­fy­ing Bath and Shower Oil, £34 Lola’s Apothe­cary

Re­store Aura Spray, £28 Ro­ques

Oneil Ther­a­pie

Pure Calm Well­ness Oil, £60 Uma at

Cult Beauty

Per­fect Peace scented can­dle, £30 Neom

Pil­low­case, £62 Slip at Net-A-Porter

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