GO IN SEARCH OF ME TIME

WANT TO TAP INTO THAT BACK-TO-SCHOOL FEEL­ING AND FOS­TER A FRESH START? LIZ CON­NOR OF­FERS SOME SIM­PLE STEPS TO HELP GET YOU STARTED

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - HEALTH & LIFESTYLE -

SEPTEM­BER al­ways feels like a fresh start. Even if it’s been decades since you last wore a uni­form, there’s an un­mis­tak­able ‘back-toschool’ vibe that makes this month feel like the ideal time to give those failed New Year res­o­lu­tions an­other crack.

There’s some­thing about a bit of mid-year self-im­prove­ment that feels so much less daunt­ing than mak­ing ma­jor life­style changes at the start of the year – and it helps that you’re not bat­tling against a mam­moth party sea­son hang­over, sift­ing through hun­dreds of un­read work emails, and feel­ing the lows of the Jan­uary blues too.

Ac­cord­ing to the mood-board plat­form Pin­ter­est, we’re chas­ing more ‘me time’ than ever, with the site re­port­ing a 140% rise in searches for ‘self-care rou­tines’. And Septem­ber is the busiest month of the year for site users seek­ing out new ex­pe­ri­ences.

Whether it’s a new fit­ness regime or hobby, eat­ing health­ier or mak­ing changes to home decor, the end of sum­mer can be an ideal time to in­vest in a bit more time to our­selves and com­mit to life­style changes.

Of course, re­form is eas­ier said than done, but there are plenty of ways that you can cap­i­talise on the mo­men­tum of the new school cal­en­dar and carve out some space to get things done. Here are a few ideas to get you started... FOS­TER A REG­U­LAR SELF-CARE ROU­TINE BE­TWEEN work, re­la­tion­ships, chil­dren and life ad­min, it can be re­ally easy to put your needs at the bot­tom of the to-do list and for­get to take care of your­self, be­yond the base needs of show­er­ing, sleep­ing and eat­ing. But as a re­cent study found Brits spend an av­er­age nine days each month bat­tling stress, it’s never been more im­por­tant to pri­ori­tise your well­be­ing.

“Self-care is very much about be­ing mind­ful of what you need and then tak­ing ac­tion to make sure you get it,” says Jayne Hardy, au­thor of The Self-Care Pro­ject (£8.99, Orion Spring).

Jayne sug­gests block­ing off an evening per week to take a long soak in an Ep­som salt bub­ble bath, los­ing your­self in a Net­flix doc­u­men­tary or go­ing for a wood­land walk – any­thing that gives you per­mis­sion to slow down, space to re­flect, and time to re­plen­ish your men­tal health. WAKE UP 10 MIN­UTES EAR­LIER TO MEDITATE YOU’RE prob­a­bly fa­mil­iar with the con­cept of med­i­ta­tion, but have you ac­tu­ally tried it? Stud­ies have found that a reg­u­lar prac­tice can boost con­cen­tra­tion, re­duce stress, and in­crease pos­i­tive emo­tions, among other health ben­e­fits.

Thanks to smart­phones, it’s eas­ier to tap into the skill. Apps like Calm (calm.com), Headspace (headspace. com) and Bud­dhify (bud­dhify.com) have easy-to-fol­low guides that can ease you into the con­cept of mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion.

Just like stream­ing an ex­er­cise class, think of med­i­tat­ing as a work­out for the mind – just make sure you switch off your no­ti­fi­ca­tions so you’re not be­ing dis­tracted by in­com­ing What­sApp mes­sages. JOIN A BOOK CLUB STUD­IES have shown that get­ting stuck into a good book has some amaz­ing health ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing nix­ing stress, boost­ing men­tal stim­u­la­tion and even pos­si­bly re­duc­ing the chances of de­vel­op­ing Alzheimer’s later in life.

If you strug­gle to keep your­self mo­ti­vated, set your­self a read­ing goal for the year or start up a book club with friends – your read­ing list can be as fun, quirky or se­ri­ous as you want it to be.

While no­body likes the idea of yet more dead­lines, a reg­u­lar meet-up gives you an ex­cuse to take your full lunch break at work and switch off dig­i­tal de­vices for an hour. MEAL PREP ON SUNDAYS ONE of the eas­i­est ways to free up your evenings is to prep your meals for the week ahead on a Sun­day af­ter­noon.

The idea is to cre­ate a few healthy dishes and por­tion them through­out the week, so you’re not cook­ing from scratch ev­ery night (plus, that Sun­day evening cook­ing ses­sion could be­come a re­lax­ing habit in it­self ).

Opt for easy cook­ing meth­ods, keep in­gre­di­ents sim­ple and think about do­ing your food shop on­line so you don’t spend hours search­ing for items in the su­per­mar­ket. Once you’ve fin­ished cook­ing, store ev­ery­thing in con­tain­ers and pack them into your fridge or freezer.

As well as sav­ing you time, it’ll put some ex­tra cash back into your pocket and en­sure that you stick to a healthy diet through­out the week. SCHED­ULE A CLUTTER DETOX THERE’S noth­ing more re­ward­ing than start­ing the month with a clean, clutter-free space and, as we all know, own­ing too many things can be a huge drain on your time – think about how much less fold­ing and hang­ing you’d have to do if you owned 50% less clothes? “Feng shui teaches that your en­vi­ron­ment can im­pact mood too,” says Alexan­dra Lees, founder of Wu Wei Wis­dom (wuwei­wis­dom. com). “Sim­ple changes in the de­sign and ar­range­ment your home will shift the sub­tle en­ergy of your sur­round­ings and help you de-stress and boost your in­ner­calm, cre­ativ­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity. “I ad­vise clients to sys­tem­at­i­cally de­clut­ter their desks, ta­bles and shelves, tidy un­der beds, and ruth­lessly clear out any cup­boards – even if you can’t see the stuff, it will still be stag­nat­ing your en­ergy flow.”

Apps like Calm, Headspace and Bud­dhify have easyto-fol­low guides that can ease you into the con­cept of mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion...

TAKE UP A NEW EX­ER­CISE CLASS

AC­CORD­ING to Pin­ter­est, Brits are con­stantly on the look­out for the best ways to keep their body in good con­di­tion, with more than 63 mil­lion searches on the site for ex­er­cise over the past year.

Box­ing is still a huge trend thanks to its mood-boost­ing ben­e­fits, and Pin­ter­est re­ports Buti Yoga (a fun form of in­tense car­dio yoga that in­cor­po­rates tribal dance) is set to be a big news this sea­son, with searches up by 55%.

If you’re look­ing for some­thing that’s low-im­pact and re­lax­ing, it could even be as sim­ple as go­ing for a swim at your lo­cal pool once a week. Im­prov­ing your fit­ness level doesn’t have to be a gru­elling or un­pleas­ant chore – it’s all about find­ing the right ex­er­cise for you. FOR peo­ple with men­tal health prob­lems, life can be re­ally tough.

Stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion can make things even worse; ex­ac­er­bat­ing symp­toms and in some cases, block­ing the road to re­cov­ery.

It’s es­ti­mated that one-in-four peo­ple will ex­pe­ri­ence a men­tal health prob­lem in any given year, yet sadly, so­cial stigma re­mains rife.

A re­cent sur­vey found that nine out of 10 peo­ple with a men­tal health prob­lem re­ported that the stigma they ex­pe­ri­enced made them feel worse.

Stigma around men­tal ill­ness takes many dif­fer­ent forms. We know that peo­ple with men­tal health dif­fi­cul­ties are among the least likely peo­ple in so­ci­ety to be in em­ploy­ment, have a long-term re­la­tion­ship and live in ad­e­quate hous­ing. It’s likely that stig­ma­tised views about men­tal health prob­lems and their symp­toms con­tribute to this in­equal­ity.

At an in­di­vid­ual level, peo­ple might ex­pe­ri­ence stigma from their friends, rel­a­tives, em­ploy­ers, col­leagues or strangers. It might take the form of be­ing called names, be­ing told that you’re lazy or that you need to pull your­self to­gether and get over your prob­lems.

It might be be­ing treated dif­fer­ently when some­one finds out you have a men­tal health prob­lem or ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­culty ac­cess­ing the same op­por­tu­ni­ties as oth­ers.

Set aside time for an Ep­som salt bub­ble bath

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