Life & Living

Your health 2022

Health, wealth and happiness… let’s get ready for the year ahead.

2022… it’s time for you.

by Andrew Hirst

January 2022… crikey last year went quick. It only seemed like last week we were celebrating 2021 via Zoom. The past twelve months have seen double jabs, boosters and new variants. What the next twelve will bring who knows, so let’s all get prepped ready to go with a little health check.

January is a great time to change anything in your life you are not happy with. From changing your body shape and getting fitter to changing your career or achieving a life goal, January is the time to plan and get things started.

Just like Michael Caine said in the Italian Job “hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea”, you probably have several great plans you have come up with in the past. But did they work? Chances are they didn’t. Each year approximately 50% of people make new year’s resolutions and 80% of those fail to stick to their promises to themselves. Well that just sobered everyone up and brought us all back down to earth. What we need to start with here is a negative, a bit like what we all hope for when waiting for our PCR test results. Sometimes it’s not about having the answers but about asking the right questions. Why do most people fail?

The majority of people fail to maintain their new year’s resolutions because they go too big too soon. I am certainly not saying that you shouldn’t shoot for the stars, but baby steps are the way to build a sustainable approach. Go too big too soon and you might just find that whatever you have planned doesn’t stick. Get to know yourself and then plan achievable goals to give change the best chance of success. And that is the ultimate goal for us all. Change. Generally people do not like change. So to be able to embrace the change, start small.

Health & fitness

Most of us need to get a little fitter and shed a couple of pounds. Jumping on the fitness train doesn’t mean you have to remove all of the joys of life. It’s ok to have martini or a sausage roll… just not at the same time, that would be wrong. A dry January might be a little extreme for some of us, but January is a good time to review our alcohol intake. The odd cheeky glass of wine or a G&T after a stressful day at work can soon mount up. Not to mention the calories. We all know that there are a lot of calories in our alcoholic beverage of choice but it is worth reminding ourselves that the average large glass of wine has a whopping 228. Swap it for water. I know it is massively different but the cleanse of your system will do you the world of good. Drinking more water can help you feel better and even make your skin look fresher.

Another thing to help with fitness and the waistline is to up your step count. The cold weather may not feel like the best time to start a couch to 5k, but your summer self will thank you for it. For more fitness inspiration head to page 61 where Chantel Heath talks about the 2022 fitness trends.

Whilst you are increasing your fitness you need to eat healthier. Up the veggies, go vegan if you want, and increase the amount of fruits in your diet. If you are lacking in certain vitamins increasing them can make all the difference to your wellbeing. Pick a good balanced diet rather than going on a diet. Most nutritionists will agree that trendy diets are not the answer. Lowering the calories and movement are the only true answers to weight loss.

Financial health

When we think of the new year and making plans we immediately think about our physical health, however a financial health check is always a good idea at any time of the year; so why not make a bullish start in January.

Make the most of what you have by looking through your banking app. Most of them these days give you some great features which can show you spending trends. You can use this to make some informed decisions on changes you need to make.

Another needless spend is on subscriptions we don’t really use. Do you really watch the streaming services you are subscribed to? Are you really using that app which costs £2.99 per month? All of these little expenses mount up and are so easily overlooked. Be ruthless… you can always resubscribe if you want to catch the new season of that must-watch show.

Upgrades are another pitfall. Having that latest handset for example is a nice luxury, but will cost a bundle. If you normally have the latest phone you could be saving up to 75% on your monthly bill just by keeping what you have. Leave the upgrade for every four years instead of two, this way you will get the most out of your handset if you look after it.

One of the things we all struggle with is saving. Apps like Plum can help make saving easy by automating the decisions for you. Plum links to your current account and then small amounts are automatically saved without leaving you short for what matters.

If you want to look at the bigger picture – remortgaging, pensions and investing – and don’t know where to start then it is best to speak to an expert. Independent financial advisors (IFA) can help you with these more complex financial matters. Make sure you are using a qualified and accredited IFA. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requires all IFAs to pass what they call ‘Level 4 qualifications’, so you should be looking for a diploma-level certificate, such as the Diploma in Financial Planning (DipFP) (formerly the Advanced Financial Planning Certificate), or even better, the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning (ADFP).

Normally your first appointment is free so this is the time to find out if you are comfortable with the IFA. Don’t feel embarrassed about asking questions if you do not understand anything, you are potentially going to be transacting large sums of money via this person, so you have every right to ask questions and make sure you’re confident in your decision. Remember you are under no pressure after your first meeting to use this particular IFA, if you are not impressed, you can always find someone else.

Mental health

Striking a good balance in life is key. Work life balance is key and reducing your stress levels can improve not only your mental health but also your physical health. Failing to look after your mental health will always lead to disaster. There are many areas of your life which probably need attention, but remember you don’t have to eat the whole elephant at the same time. As Martin Luther King Jr said “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” And that is definitely the most important thing… taking the first step.

For some of us it is a challenge to see the way through. For some the fear of the monster under the bed can seem too great, paralysing you and leading to inaction. If you have a problem, no matter how big or small, it is always best to face it; unless it is a monster with a big stick then it is best advised to wait for the cavalry. Most of our problems don’t have a stick and big teeth. You can’t avoid them forever so it is best to confront them head-on. If you are feeling overwhelmed and not sure what to do then you must talk to someone; a friend, colleague, relative or, if you need, a professional. It’s OK to ask for help. Asking for help shows that you are a strong individual ready to take control of the situation. Professional help can come in many different guises depending on the problem. Financial stress for example has many different organisations you can talk to: National Debtline, StepChange Debt Charity or Citizens Advice for example are great places to start. The main thing to remember is whatever problems you are experiencing you aren’t alone, you just need to talk.

To aid your overall mental health, exercise does help. Weather it be yoga or running, pick something that works for you and makes you happy. If you find you are having trouble sleeping this should help. Everything feels better in the morning when you have had a good night’s sleep.

2022… it’s time for you.

This year make the time for you. One of the big reasons why our life doesn’t feel fulfilled or why the new year’s resolution falls flat is the lack of time. We have to make sure we allow the time to succeed. Time is one of the biggest and rarest commodities of all. Scheduling in the time for you to achieve your life goals is the best way to get them… well, you know… achieved. If you are not a little selfish with your time then you will always be pulled in to something else. We all have commitments and responsibilities, but you also have a responsibility to yourself. Be a bit selfish… you’re worth it.

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