2023… A Year for You

By Charlie Smith-Knight


Boom. Just like that it’s 2023. We are officially living in the future. 8 years further into the future than Marty and the Doc travelled but still no self-tying shoes and the only dehydrated/rehydrating food exists on the Space station. Whilst some things in the future are awesome, like Netflix and ApplePay, some things aren’t like still having to adult and taking responsibility for our actions. No other time hits harder than January, the annual wet fart of the year. It follows on from Christmas like a dip in an ice bath after a month-long jacuzzi. The lights come down, the recycling bin is overflowing and worst of all, the seasonal TV guide ends. No more morning mimosas, afternoon cheese bingeing and the tea towels no longer encompass the small heads of nativity shepherds. The glitter dust settles and suddenly, the world turns ‘new year, new you’ crazy. Your overindulgence is no longer seasonally acceptable and now you’re just greedier than a Mogwai after midnight. Blurgh.

Some people are all about that healthy living lifestyle and some of us have always felt running should be reserved for emergency situations like an evacuation or the threat of imminent death. So what can you do if you fall into the latter? Less Mr Motivator, more Mr Procrastinator? Recently health issues have forced me into an unwanted detox and although there are some things you can’t phone in, there are ways to make it more palatable.

Water for the win

As someone who usually only drinks water if it is boiled and poured onto ground coffee, I have had to retrain myself to enjoy it in its purest form. For me, water has been important in my recovery and that’s because water is incredibly good for you.  Water has multiple benefits for the body including helping to keep your skin clear and youthful. Dehydration promotes the formation of wrinkles and collagen is around 60% water, so keeping up your water intake can help to keep this useful protein in check. Water can help regulate your weight too as it contains no calories and helps you to feel full. Water helps maintain kidney function, regulates your blood pressure and temperature, promotes joint health and digestive efficiency. It is literally essential, but equally, drinking enough can feel like effort. So treat it like a marathon, not a sprint. Start with some water, any amount and make a conscious effort to drink some water every day, then increase the amount incrementally. Drink some for a week, then drink 500ml everyday for 2 weeks, then drink a litre everyday for another 2 weeks and so on. You can buy a water bottle that has time check reminders on it and try to keep up with it. After a while it will stop tasting like TV static and you’ll find you like it. If you don’t, why not try sugar free cordials. They can make the difference between a silk purse and a sow’s ear. 

Mind your mental health 

The balance of your overall health must include your mental health. There’s no way to oversell it. How you feel mentally is just as important as you feel physically. It doesn’t matter how well frosted a cake is if the inside is sawdust. As with a lot of advice, this is easier said than done but when you feel overwhelmed, talk to someone. You might be surprised to find you share the same worries and even if solutions can’t be immediately offered, sharing the burden of your thoughts can still provide relief. Speak to a family member, partner, friend or a stranger. Call the Samaritans. It’s free from any phone at any time on 116 123. You don’t need to tell them your life story, you don’t even need to be an open book, but if your pages are starting to read like an Edgar Allan Poe spiral of despair, you do need to at least crack the spine and let some of it out. Bad thoughts are like bad smells- you don’t need them to hang around. Be more Elsa and let them go. Talking is a quid pro quo deal too. Once you start opening up, you’ll find that people are more inclined to reciprocate. Sharing creates trust and helps you learn more about others. Even Hannibal Lecter learned to share, so you can too. 

Music can also be a medium for helping to process your emotions and can calm anxiety. Make yourself a playlist and take yourself out for some fresh air. Personally, there is something empowering about blasting My Chemical Romance through your headphones whilst nodding as you pass old ladies on the street. 

Go to war on your wardrobe

I can not stress this enough but throw out those jeans that no longer fit you. There’s no shame in it. Stop torturing yourself that one day you’ll get back in them and make some space in your wardrobe. There’s no need to go the full Marie Kondo and throw out anything that doesn’t bring you joy – I don’t know about you but my toothbrush doesn’t bring me joy and yet, I’m keeping it- but do be honest with yourself about what actually serves you. Decluttering your space can help reduce anxiety and stress as being surrounded physically can add to feelings of being burdened. Maybe you used to be thinner but if you’re healthy now, just wear the jeans that fit. Bag up the excess and donate it to charity. Sell it on Vinted. Just get it out the house and give yourself the space to breathe; mentally and also in your right sized jeans.  

Goal setting for goal getting

‘If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time’. It is easy to achieve nothing. And you can do just that and remain at the same point until this time next year. Or you can embed some healthy habits now and make 2023 a year of growth. If you start with your water intake, you’ve got the jump on it already. Again, slow and steady wins the race. Set achievable goals. Compartmentalise and set yourself a healthy living goal, a mental health goal and a creativity goal for each week. Vow to cook healthy meals Monday-Friday and have the weekend off. Make regular plans with friends and family to stay connected, even if it’s just a phone call. Do something you’re good at- sports, knitting, writing, painting- to remind yourself that you have your own strengths. Kill two birds with one stone and ask a friend to start an exercise class with you. I tried boxercise once and although my useless sense of direction meant I nearly punched my friend in the face, we certainly burnt some calories through laughing. Exercise doesn’t need to be vigorous but regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight, strengthen bones and muscles, improve heart and lung function and help improve sleep. Plus, you know the saying, exercise means extra fries. 

So, decide what is it that you want to achieve this year and create some goals to see you get there. Setting incremental goals helps you focus, sustains momentum and highlights progress. Once you start seeing the progress you have made, it will be easier to visualise the end result. That rush of endorphins will make it worth it and as Elle Woods said, endorphins make you happy. Who couldn’t use more of that this year?  

So be the tortoise, it doesn’t matter if you’re moving slow, as long as you’re moving forward. Your life isn’t necessarily going to transform into Eat, Pray, Love but you may be surprised by the results of healthy new habits. I am sure that you will reap what you sow this year. So, make 2023 a year for you and get planting some beautiful things.