four ways to be your best self this winter;

You would think, after 36 of them, I’d be above all that New Year, New Me nonsense.

And the truth is I am, but also… kinda not.

I’m a big believer that you can make a positive change, or kick off a new habit, any time that you want. But I also know that if I’m going to start doing something to better myself that I really don’t want to do (unless lying on the sofa under a blanket, reading Angry Men Shout About Doctor Who comments on Facebook until 2am and eating salted caramel sauce straight from the jar is now a means of bettering myself, in which case count me in) I’d better be getting a final few days of my favourite self-destructive behaviours in before you can make me.

So in that sense, with its hard deadline you can see 12 months off, New Year is perfect.

Be your best self: Gym and tonic water bottle
Be your best self: OMG Tea matcha, A Vogel nasal spray

I switched from making resolutions to “theming” my years a few years ago. The former feels too much like setting myself up to fail while the latter… well, I posted about my theme for 2018 a couple of days ago, so you already know it’s going to be a tonne more fun. That’s not to say that there aren’t positive things I want to do more of, and less positive things I want to do less of – but those go in my bullet journal, and are intended to be a quantifiable work in progress.

With that said, there are a few little things I’ve been doing to help myself while it’s cold and dark outside, and the sofa seems oh-so-tempting. I’m sharing them because they might help you, too.

1. Get realistic about the gym thing

I’ve been itching to go back to the gym for a while now, but have been struggling to come up with a way that is a) sustainable; and b) as fun as it gets when your body has consistently told you that endorphins are a myth. As much as I enjoyed boot camp, once the initial enthusiasm wore off I discovered plenty of things about it that were not sustainable. Things like Saturday mornings. 9pm Wednesday night dinners. And the sheer bloody expense of getting there when one neither drives, nor works full time.

In 2018, I’m being kind to myself and easing myself back into a routine in a realistic way. One fitness class a week by the end of January and two a week by the end of February. I’m typing this with my arms aching from a Body Combat class within walking distance of my house, on a Monday lunchtime – the day that I’m working from home anyway, and in need of a routine that isn’t staring into a fixed point in space just beyond my laptop screen. And, you know what? It actually was fun.

2. Look after your eyes

Does anybody else really struggle with dry eyes in winter? This might just be me, but there’s something about computer screens combined with the artificial light of your average office that makes me feel more tired, earlier in the day, when it’s dark outside. It’s something I’ve been trying to combat by keeping eye drops on my desk for when the need arises, along with as frequent screen breaks as is realistically possible when your job is effectively computer-based content creation.

Eye health is something that has been on my mind a lot lately, as I’m trying to transition back into being an (infrequent) contact lens wearer. While my astigmatism rules out daily wear – and I wouldn’t be keen for computer-based work anyway – there are now so many different varieties of daily disposable lenses available (I’ve always been an Acuvue girl) that dry eyes are all but a thing of the past.

Now, it’s been a few years, but I was taken aback to discover that they’re still warning people off things like sleeping with your lenses in, or cleaning them with water rather than a dedicated contact lens solution. At my final check-up on Saturday, I had to admit to having dropped my final trial lens in a tub of moisturiser – and I was amused when the optician tried to get me to admit to having rinsed it off under the tap rather than in the leftover solution. But recent research by Vision Direct reveals that over 70% of contact lens wearers have fallen asleep in their lenses, while 23% admit to rinsing lenses in water rather than solution – so it seems that there is a reason for it. Grim.

3. Self-soothe that cold

My poor dad has only recently returned to society, having spent his New Year in bed with that Australian flu. That aside, I think most people know by now the general wisdom that colds should for the most part be treated with bed rest, fluids and over-the-counter remedies rather than doctors’ visits and antibiotics – but it’s easier said than done when you’re in the middle of one and feeling proper sorry for yourself.

Ever since a nasty bout of sinusitis last year, my colds and seasonal allergy flare-ups have brought with them certain additional gifts: blocked sinuses, dry eyes, an itchy face. While most over-the-counter sprays warn against more than seven days of use, the Sinuforce nasal spray* by natural remedies brand A Vogel has been an absolute game-changer: its combination of natural menthol, peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil mean that it is safe to use for longer than the sprays you buy in chemists. I’ve also been using the A Vogel eye drops with euphrasia*, which come in a handy bottle that delivers a perfectly metered dose to avoid any mess at your desk.

Of course, sometimes the best way to self-soothe is to wrap up warmly and get out for some fresh air. My current favourite winter woolie combo? My fluffy cat paw fingerless gloves (the perfect Christmas present from my stepmum), a sparkly and stylish Crown and Glory beret and the super-soft, super-warm cashmere scarf* that was a Christmas gift from the St Enoch Centre.

Be your best self: cat paw mittens
Be your best self: OMG Tea matcha

4. Ditch the coffee

Takeaway coffee remains my greatest vice, and one that I’ve been trying to kick – with varying degrees of success – for a number of years now. It’s an incredibly expensive habit, something which I’m convinced gives me more of a psychological benefit than anything related to the caffeine content since I’m not much of a fan of filter or instant coffees – and, with this year being one in which I want to make a really conscious effort to cut down on wasteful single-use items such as cotton pads, straws and takeaway cups, there’s all the more reason to make a real go of it.

I’ve slowly been growing to enjoy antioxidant-rich matcha* from OMGTea, especially when drunk from a pretty little tea cup to add a sense of ceremony. The next step is to bring some into the office and find out whether the sustained energy release that’s supposed to leave you less jittery than caffeine is true. And when it’s too cold to comfortably drink my usual quantities of water, I’ve been substituting with cups of hot water spiked with fresh ginger and lemon for a zesty, warming drink.

Thanks to Vision Direct for supporting this post. Contains PR samples, but all views are my own and unbiased.