Is the pressure we put upon ourselves to change during January causing us problems? Alice Wright considers whether unrealistic New Year’s resolutions could be doing more harm than good, and discusses some gentler, alternative options to ease customers stress-free into 2020
After the excess and indulgence of Christmas, making New Year’s resolutions seems like the obvious next step. It feels natural in the first month of the year to be making a new start. And it’s traditional – as familiar as taking down the decorations.
It’s commonly believed that January has the power to support new ideas – a mystical month in which we will go to the gym, lose weight, stop smoking, get a new job, write a novel, start a business and change our lives for the better.
But what if we don’t live up to our shiny new ideals? At least 80% of us give up on our resolutions before the end of January, with data gathered by sports site Strava pinpointing the second Friday of the year as the most likely day for quitting.
January, after all, is just a month like any other, and probably not the best one in which to make stringent changes. A survey carried out by iReach in 2017 discovered that over 50% of us believe it to already be the most depressing month of the year, citing financial worries (thanks to Christmas credit card bills), bad weather, long nights and having to return to the daily grind after a break. Oh, and this year you can throw in the extended news nightmare that is Brexit, too. Depressing indeed.
So, taking that into account, is January really the ideal four weeks in which to stick to a tough new resolution? Are you really more likely to wake up for an early run when the mornings are dark and freezing? Are you more likely to give up that bad habit when you have less cash to treat yourself to something else? Probably not.
The problem with choosing January’s short, pressurized time frame for these extreme changes is that quitting is more likely – which can induce feelings of failure and anxiety, and quite possibly throw you further into the bad habits you were trying to break.
When stress hormones are elevated, the body is depleted of its natural energy, making plans to run a few miles after work even more unlikely – thus, piling on the guilt. If you’re low on energy and inspiration, you’re more likely to reach for the sugar and carbs, again hindering your diet plans. It’s an endless cycle.
Sarah Orecchia, founder of Unbeelievable Health, agrees: “I think the pressure of New Year’s resolutions sets you up for failure. And they can be so boring.
New Year is a good time to begin, but it’s better to recalibrate throughout the year. I think crafting resolutions into bite-sized morsels which you’ll enjoy makes a lot more sense. You can stick to them longer and there is less stress involved. I think the best new changes should incorporate body, lifestyle and mind.”
For consumers dead set on using January as a time to reflect on lifestyle, there are ways they can make a difference without setting themselves up for failure. When your next
customer enters the store, tense at not completing their 100 crunches, there are some ways you can help alleviate their stress. Encourage them to reward themselves and change their perspective on resolutions, favouring nourishment over deprivation or punishment – this small shift could provide a boost of wellbeing and limit the stress brought about by ill-timed, unrealistic resolutions. Certain beneficial, yet gentler, resolutions could still make January a month for positive, stress-free changes:
Time: carve some out some me-time. Dr Chris Etheridge, natural health specialist and advisor to Red Kooga, has found a link in his research between those who have less time for themselves and those who are stressed. Etheridge reveals: “Astonishingly, four in five Brits don’t set out any time for themselves. This self-perpetuating cycle of being too busy to take time out feeds stress levels, sending the body … into heightened alert, which is your body’s way of protecting itself and is similar to the reaction you feel when threatened. So, the more stress you encounter, the more likely you’re going to encounter a slump in energy levels and health problems such as high blood pressure.”
Light: make the most of the short daylight hours by getting outside at least once a day, or consider a supplement. The ‘sunshine vitamin’ – vitamin D – has now replaced vitamin C as the UK’s favourite supplement because of its ‘health benefits in winter months’, according to Mintel research analyst Anita Winther. Vitamin D is naturally created in our bodies by sunlight, and a lack of it can lead to fatigue, anxiety and recurring infections.
Movement: gentle, regular walks, wrapped up against the cold, will keep blood moving and bring a smile to your customers’ faces. Exercise releases endorphins that reduce stress and pain and bring about joy. And you don’t need to go to the gym; even walking the dog will suffice.
“The more stress you encounter the more likely you’re going to encounter a slump in energy levels and health problems such as high blood pressure”
Sleep: simple changes to routine might encourage more useful and plentiful sleep, automatically improving wellbeing. Adding some luxury to bedtime rituals – such as a gorgeous smelling lavender pillow spray – can improve slumber. Nutritionist Shona Wilkinson suggests finding a supplement containing griffonia seed extract as it contains 5-HTP that converts to melatonin – the hormone which helps us sleep. Along with hops, Montmorency cherry and royal jelly, this important extract can be found in the Unbeelievable Health Bee Rested supplements.
Warmth: keep colds at bay with regular warm drinks – maybe a fortified cacao or smoothie blend. Rude Health has released a dairy-free range of drinks perfect for the winter, like Turmeric Latte and Hot Chocolate, while the spicy Relax blend by Africa-inspired health food brand Aduna is a cinnamon-
and cacao-infused brew guaranteed to generate warmth on the coldest of days. There shouldn’t be any guilt associated with sitting on the sofa with a cuppa.
Laughter: it’s not just exercise which releases endorphins; laughter does too.
Patience: September is often considered the best month for lifestyle changes and is now widely considered the ‘new January’. We’re far better equipped to make changes when the days are lighter and warmer, we’re fresh from a summer break and in the grip of a ‘new school term’ mentality.
So, for this January try advocating an ‘I’m giving up giving up’ attitude and challenge your customers to reward themselves instead.
Don’t let 2020 be the year of the burnout
One of the more worrying developments to greet us in the new year is the focus on the condition ‘burnout’: a syndrome linked to prolonged and chronic stress, usually resulting from the workplace. Now so common, burnout has been added to the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases, making it one of the newest globally recognized medical conditions.
WHO lists three characters of burnout: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased
mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.
“You can reach burnout when your nervous system is in overdrive for too long, often due to stress. A lack of rest or downtime is like depriving your body of good food – eventually your energy and mental resources start to run out. The results can include fatigue or exhaustion, so that even the smallest things become an effort. You might feel emotional or short-tempered, find it hard to concentrate or make decisions, and find that even little things upset you,” explains nutritionist Cassandra Barns.
The new ThinkWell LiveWell mindfulness toolkit has some suggestions on combatting the stress of being constantly ‘on’ by learning to prioritize and being more mindful.
In addition, supplements such as the new HempCeutix capsules
from Natures Plus help harmonize the mind and body, while the proven aromatherapeutic benefits of lavender essential oil
can also help.
The retailer view of January
Dan O’Toole, co-owner of Glossop Wholefoods, finds January is a busy month. “Lots of people want to get back into the health game after over-indulging at Christmas. We have a wholefood approach … and find that it’s the time of year when people most want to get on board.”
But O’Toole isn’t sure January is the best month to make big changes. “I understand why people choose January – everyone else is doing it and you can benefit from the support of others – but you can set those intentions at any time of the year,” he says. “The thought process is good, but the problem is people can set themselves unrealistic expectations. Resolutions have to be manageable and personal, not set around a specific month.”
For customers looking to address anxiety, CBD oil has helped many customers with their symptoms. O’Toole explains: “CBD oil is a great seller for us, with lots of return customers, because it works for them. It reduces inflammation throughout the body, lifts mood and has an overall impact on stress.”
The store’s bestseller is The Original Alternative.
O’Toole has given up on New Year’s resolutions himself, suggesting it’s important to be happy instead. But for anyone wishing to make a positive change he has a suggestion: “Try Veganuary!”
Veganuary is growing in popularity, with plenty of new foods to try. For anyone giving it a go O’Toole suggests an accompanying supplement: “The Vegan Health Daily Oral Spray by BetterYou is a great vitamin spray and very popular. I recommend that one for January (and all year round). Going vegan for a month helps the environment and gives you a chance to look after yourself and animals.Now that’s a positive change.”
AQUA Carpatica Natural Sparkling Mineral Water
One glass of water is sometimes all it takes to unwind and beat anxiety symptoms: stress leads to dehydration and dehydration to stress! Break this vicious circle in the simplest possible way, by rehydrating with quality water, rich in magnesium. This dietary mineral is essential in regulating neuronal function, inducing a state of relaxation, quelling anxiety and keeping your brain healthy.
AQUA Carpatica Natural Sparkling Mineral Water provides 26% of the NHS’s recommended daily amount of magnesium for adults per litre and almost 40% of the daily amount of Calcium. Quench your thirst and beat anxiety with Nature’s Most Perfect Water!
FSC Vitamin B Supreme High Potency
A high potency combination of essential B Vitamins and Vitamin C necessary to maintaining a healthy nervous system and adrenal gland, which is part of the stress mechanism. As with all FSC supplements, Vitamin B Supreme High Potency is made in the UK with the finest ingredients and based on widely recognised scientific evidence of their health qualities. Recommended to take one a day with food and available in 30 and 60 tablets.
NeuroForte®. Healthy brain and cognitive function. The brain, the most vital organ in the body, it requires nutrients to support its function. The stress and pressure associated with modern lifestyles may reduce the brain’s ability to function optimally, resulting in reduced concentration and alertness. With this in mind, HealthAid® have developed Neuroforte® contains essential nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins, minerals and herbs, which help support a healthy brain and nervous system, provide a sense of balance and wellbeing. Beneficial for cognitive function and good blood flow to and from the brain. Neuroforte® retails at £9.49 for 30 vegan tablets. Contact HealthAid Ltd on
020 8426 3400 for purchase and stockist information or visit www.healthaid.co.uk
Bio-Kult Advanced Multi-strain formulation
Stress is a growing epidemic, with 74% of people reporting that in the past year they have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.* In addition, 51% of adults who felt stressed also reported feeling depressed, and 61% reported feeling anxious.*
The importance of the gut–brain axis (and in particular the gut microbiota) in regulating stress-related responses is becoming increasingly apparent. The routes of communication between the microbiota and brain are slowly being unraveled, and include the vagus nerve, gut hormone signaling, the immune system, tryptophan metabolism, and microbial metabolites such as short chain fatty acids.* Our gut bacteria can become easily unbalanced from factors such as poor diet and lifestyle choices and antibiotic use.* Such changes to the gut microbiota have been implicated in a variety of stress-related conditions including anxiety, depression and irritable bowel syndrome.* Stress itself can also negatively impact our gut bacteria by triggering the release of inflammatory cytokines, shown to reduce the abundance of a number of bacterial species in the gut.*
In light of the growing prevalence of mood and stress related disorders “psychobiotics” (live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a beneficial psychological effect on the host’)* are an exciting new area of research, with researchers particularly interested in identifying bacterial strains which may improve mood, reduce anxiety and alleviate stress. Human clinical studies have shown significant improvements in reducing feelings of stress through probiotic supplementation. For example, a 2011 study found live bacteria-treated participants showed significant declines in self-reported negative mood and distress and a decrease in urinary free cortisol (the stress hormone), compared to placebo.*
Bio-Kult is a unique multi-strain formulation with 14 strains of live bacteria and was used as the active in a recent double-blind randomised controlled trial in 400 IBS-diarrhoea type patients.Those in the active groupnot only reported significantly improved overall symptom severity but was also detailed improvement in all aspects of quality of life including psychological issues such as anxiety about health, depression, lack of enjoyment of life and feelings of having to avoid stressful situations.*
Stay Stress Free with Helios
Award winning Stress Relief forms part of an exciting range of homeopathic combination remedies from Helios. Stress Relief contains three remedies Aconite, Arg Nit and Arsencium and has a long history of traditional use to relieve mild stress and anxiety naturally. The remedy comes in lactose free, sucrose pill form, in our easy to use single dose dispenser. Other award winning products in the range cover Childhood teething, fevers and earache; Hay Fever; Injuries and Sleep.
Garden of Life mykind Organics B-Complex
Garden of Life mykind Organics B-Complex is a once daily formula that provides 100% daily value and more of all the B vitamins to help support healthy energy levels, support metabolism and stress response. Contains 300mcg of biotin for healthy hair, skin and nails. Supports a healthy heart with 400mcg (100% daily value) of folate. Made from real organic powdered fruits, vegetables and herbs and made from over 25 real, nutritious foods. Tablets are uniquely made using Clean Tablet Technology, made only with food, no fillers, binders or excipients. Certified USDA Organic, gluten free, kosher and Non-GMO Project Verified.
Kanabia CBD+ Oil
Kanabia CBD+ Oil is made with premium Golden Harvest™ Full-Spectrum Hemp, which features CBD, CBDV, CBG and THCV for a complete range of cannabinoids with 0% THC. Presented in a liquid tincture with high quality MCT oil for a purer taste, plus cognitive and digestive health benefits. Available in three different strengths (250mg, 500mg, 1000mg) and also available infused with Supercritical C02 Turmeric Extract and Rosemary for more anti-inflammatory benefits. Kanabia was founded to bring healthy living to everyone through natural foods and supplements combined with our unique full spectrum cannabinoid complex to restore the mind and body’s natural balance.
Nature’s Answer Ashwagandha Liquid Herbal Extract
Nature’s Answer Ashwagandha is unbeatable on purity and potency, with a super-concentrated dose of 2000mg per serving, not to be confused with less potent tinctures. The extract is alcohol and gluten free, and in liquid form for fast absorption into the body, whilst utilising the whole herbal extract offers maximum synergy. Ashwagandha is what is known as an adaptogen, a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress. There are over 200 documented clinical studies on the subject of Ashwagandha. Considered one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing, it has been used since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions.
OM Organic Mushroom Nutrition Reishi
Reishi, known as the “Mushroom of Immortality” is an adaptogen which helps provide body balance and manage stress. Studies have also shown reishi to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, as well as promoting a strong immune and cardiovascular system. Om Organic Mushroom Nutrition is a leading producer of pure, fresh, certified 100% organic medicinal mushroom powders that contribute to optimise your health. Having travelled the world to discover unique mushroom varieties, Om have combined the perfect balance of ancient wisdom with modern growing methodology to grow these miraculous mushrooms in their state-of-the-art facility in California.
Lamberts® Theanine & Lemon Balm Complex With pantothenic acid for normal mental performance
L-Theanine is a fascinating amino acid that is present in normal tea and is believed to be responsible for that unique ‘nice cup of tea’ feeling. Indeed, L-Theanine is now widely recommended by practitioners for those during times of stress and anxiety. Lamberts® Theanine & Lemon Balm Complex combines a full 200mg of L-Theanine alongside a significant 6000mg of lemon balm plus three relevant B vitamins. Folic acid and biotin are both included in view of the fact that they contribute to normal psychological functions and pantothenic acid as it contributes to normal mental performance.
NEW Sleep Support
For a good night’s sleep – A unique combination of herbs and magnesium formulated to help you sleep well through the night.
• Contains valerian which has been shown in clinical trials to reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep
• Hops have a natural sedative effect
• Chamomile, passion flower and lemon balm are known for their sleep inducing effects
• L-theanine to help your brain ‘switch off’
• Montmorency tart cherry has been shown to increase sleep time in people with insomnia
Kosher approved, Vegan and Vegetarian Society registered and Halal certified.
Tranquil Support from NHP supports people managing a busy lifestyle in today’s stressful world. Contains all the B vitamins, with extra B5 (for the reduction of tiredness and fatigue), chromium for the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels, vitamin B12 which contributes to normal functioning of the nervous system and normal psychological function. It also contains L-theanine to help both physically and emotionally, along with Siberian ginseng, aloe vera and curcumin. Kosher approved, Vegan and Vegetarian Society registered and Halal certified.
The Melissa Dream™ is the tablet you need to maintain a normal restful sleep, normal function of your nervous system and help with the ability to deal effectively with impulses, which affect the focus of your mind, such as anxiety and stress.
The unique herbal extract combination in each tablet can help nourish the influence on your brain, nerves and your psychological functions. The tablet is manufactured in Sweden, and contains a lemon balm extract, which helps maintain a restful sleep, L-theanine amino acid, chamomile extract, vitamin B complex and magnesium. The content of B vitamins contributes to normal psychological and nervous system function.
Chill Food, designed by Patrick Holford, supports the calming of the nervous system. It is a unique blend developed for individuals trying to keep up with the pressures of a modern lifestyle. Magnesium contributes to the normal function of the nervous system, psychological function and a reduction of tiredness and fatigue; hops extract may aid calming of the nervous system and help with sleep; glutamine is a major amino acid, precursor for GABA the main inhibitory, calming neurotransmitter; and 5-HTP is effective in helping to improve mood and create the ‘feel-good factor’.
Raw Living Adaptogens
New from Raw Living, CBD Magic is a gorgeously mylky raw chocolate bar with a mellow 5mg CBD per bar. Stoneground coconut butter gives it a silky sweetness, while 5mg CBD is a gentle but effective way to soothe the nervous system. 5mg CBD is suitable for anyone, anytime, and keeps the price point affordable. Raw Living make 5 superfood chocolate bars, all containing significant doses of calming adaptogenics: Be the Change with Reishi and Klamath Lake Algae, Hi-Lovers with Rose and Shatavari, LuckyMe with Ashwagandha and Purple corn, and Whoosh with Maca and Gingko. Call or email for your brochure!
Reduce Stress And Enjoy A Restful Sleep With Relaxwell™
Relax the senses with Relaxwell™ to support restful sleep patterns. By combining tried and true quality ingredients, our special formula can help relieve stress and restlessness during times of high physical and mental demands. Relaxwell™’s unique formula combines high-quality ingredients including L-Tryptophan, L-Theanine, Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B6 to make for a more rested self.
Highly recommended for inducing relaxation while travelling during different time zones or when working against tight deadlines.
As a unique formulation, Relaxwell™ has proven ingredients to support good health. Now available in capsules for easy dosage. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.