Updated 03 December 2020
Most detoxes only cover one aspect of your wellbeing – such as your physical or mental health. Here’s a special detox for 2019 that covers body, mind… and bank account! Article by Nick Green.
Detoxing is about much more than Dry January or juicing everything that’s not nailed down. Your body may become a temple, but if your temples are throbbing with financial worries and a million other thoughts, your health drive will be uphill all the way. These detox tips combine physical remedies with ingenious hacks for your financial and mental wellbeing too.
One of the best things you can do for your body (and brain) is get more sleep. Sleep plays a key role in recuperation from illness and injury, and a 2013 study showed that one of its most vital functions is in cleaning the brain of the kinds of proteins that may cause diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Getting plenty of sleep can also help everything from your digestion to your general energy levels.
One of the cleverest tricks for eating more healthily is simply to slow it down. Cut out distractions, set aside some proper time for your three main meals, and pace yourself. Enjoying your food slowly will help to reduce your hunger effectively without over-eating, and will also help you stick just to main meals without snacking in between. This in turn improves your digestion and allows your body to detox properly.
The best exercise is the kind that moves your body in all sorts of different ways – rather than just running on a treadmill, or cranking out reps on a weights machine. This is why yoga is so effective at producing all-round fitness with minimal risk of injuries, since it balances its benefits across the whole body. But if yoga isn’t your thing, then just aim to vary your physical activities and think outside the box, so you don’t get stuck in a groove.
These two notorious stimulants are in many drinks, but it’s easy to cut down by choosing the caffeine- or sugar-free alternatives. After a while you’ll be surprised to discover that decaffeinated coffee gives you the same kind of mental boost, without the associated physical effects.
Most of us, if we have savings at all, aren’t making the most of them. Interest rates are low and inflation eats away at the value of our money. Many savings accounts offer an attractive introductory level of interest that then drops to a very low rate – by which time you’ve forgotten about it. Make a commitment to keep track of your savings, hunt down the best offers and continually switch your account to follow the highest interest.
Your credit file can be one of the most important – but least understood – areas of your finances. A good credit score can help you find the very best mortgage deals, saving you many thousands of pounds in the long term, while a poor one might make it very difficult to own your own home. Just like your physical health, your credit history can become ‘toxic’ as a result of past behaviours, financial relationships, or simply things you haven’t done. Read our tips for detoxing your credit file.
If you already have a mortgage, it’s important to give it regular maintenance. The deal you were originally offered will usually expire after two or three years, leaving you on your lender’s standard variable rate (which will be higher). This makes it important to remortgage every few years in order to keep your repayments affordable. Similarly, if your circumstances change (or even if your house increases in value) you may be able to get a better deal than the one you’re on now.
If you have any investments, take some time to review them to see if they’re at the right level of risk for you. You don’t want to place too high a proportion of your assets in high-risk investments, but equally, you should aim to be more adventurous with money if you’re unlikely to need it in the near future. If you’ve put aside enough savings for emergencies (aim for three months’ salary) then you can start to consider longer-term, higher risk investments.
Also consider what would happen if you become unable to work through illness or injury. Investigate critical illness cover and/or income protection if you are the main or sole earner in the household.
If you work for an employer you’ll be enrolled in the workplace pension there – however, you may have thought no more about it. The important thing is to make sure that you’re saving enough into it. Read our article How much should I save for retirement? to get an idea of the income you’ll need in later life, and how to adjust your contributions now to ensure than you get it.
Many of us listen to the news on the way to work, or perhaps watch films or shows on our phone or tablet. But what we do first thing in the morning can set our mood for the whole day, so depressing news or a tense drama might leave us feeling despondent or on edge. A trick that works for many people is to pick your favourite comedy show or standup and watch/listen to that instead. Laughing will put you in a better frame of mind to face the day’s challenges.
If traditional meditation isn’t your thing, find an activity that delivers similar benefits for you. Learning and practising a musical instrument can produce a similar mental state, by pushing out distracting thoughts and focusing the mind through repetition and creative flow. Certain forms of gentle exercise, such as walking or jogging, can also achieve the desired effect – especially if you can do them in a peaceful outdoor environment. Anything that ‘takes you out of yourself’ can work.
We’re told so often that multi-tasking is a strength to be proud of. It certainly can be – but do it all the time and you find your brain will never fully shut down. This can result in stress and even insomnia, as you continue to think of jobs you could be doing when you’re meant to be sleeping. Try instead to prioritise your tasks and handle them in order, focusing completely on each one in turn. It’ll take the same amount of time, you’ll do a better job, and your mind will be clearer.
It’s well known that decluttering your home can set your mind more at ease. A good way to go about this is to pretend that you’re selling it, and want to make it as attractive as possible to new buyers. Get rid of all the old junk you no longer need, repaint the walls, fix the nagging problems and try to make the best of every room. You’ll find your home becomes a more welcoming and relaxing space – and the bonus is that if you do then decide to sell it, you may have just earned a few extra thousand in value! (We couldn’t resist one more financial tip.)
However you decide to detox, remember that you can do it in more than one area of your life. Removing the toxic elements from your financial life can be just as beneficial as a healthier diet, and every bit as rewarding in the long term.
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