Okay so I’m late on the ‘New Year, New You!‘ bandwagon. I’m a procrastinator. It’s healthy. But really, it’s only the end of January, so you’ve still 11 good months to pack some healthy living in. And by ‘Healthy Living’, don’t be alarmed. This article is not about drastically changing your lifestyle, doing a 180 and putting the Doritos down for the rest of your life. No.
I’m talking about 5 realistic changes that you can start TODAY – that will impact your life for the better. We’re going to touch on mental health, happiness, and yes – physical health. Though you might be surprised how little you’ll even notice a difference in your day-to-day life…
Alright, here we go.
(Photo Above via Ruth Orkin – Albert Einstein at Princeton Luncheon, 1953)
Do one thing to develop yourself every single day.
So much of our day-to-day lives lack passion. Fun. Joy. I know I have days where I give all of my energy; both mental and physical – to my 9-to-5. I would get home, and slither into some pyjamas, fall into the closest seat that would have me, and remain there until hunger or the need to urinate motivated me off my seat. And though I don’t want to use the word ‘pathetic’ in a motivational article- I’m going to. It is pathetic. I am a creative person. I love to make things. I need to be something more than a pair of hands at a corporation. I needed to get out of that place, and perhaps you need to get out of that place too.
Whether you are passionate about music, want to learn a language, what have you. Take whatever you are passionate about and touch it every day. If you can spend only 15 minutes a day, think of how much that works out to be after a month. Two months. The year. We spend so much of our time on personal development as children. When we get in the workplace and we start our adult lives, we just drop it entirely. So start writing your novel, prep for your marathon, or plan to start your new business. You deserve it.
Find one Thing You Do Every Day, and Tweak It.
The easiest way to make a small change and stick to it, is to make it a habit. Even easier is to modify something that is already a habit. Plus, you’ll totally reap greater benefits if it’s something you practice religiously. For instance – do you have a morning coffee everyday? Perhaps the change is switching from sugar to stevia. Switching from regular milk to almond milk cuts over a 1/3 of the calories. Maybe you buy your coffee every morning and you are looking to save money rather than calories. Perhaps you walk to the corner instead of driving, to tweak in some more exercise?
These tiny changes don’t seem like much, but they add up. Maybe you do switch to almond milk, and you love it so much that it becomes a staple in your house, You use it in cereal, baking, cooking. I wasn’t kidding about the calories. It’s literally about 30 calories per cup.
So find that habit, and hack it.
Arm Yourself with Tools to De-Stress.
Stress is such a big part of life now. It almost goes with the territory of adulthood. And it is a hard thing to get away from. That’s why this point isn’t about telling you ‘STRESS LESS’. Because that is a seemingly impossible feat. We’d all like to stress less. But how do we get there? You just have to slow it down, distract it.
For me, I’ve pre-loaded a playlist on Spotify. I carry my headphones with me everywhere I go, so when I need a few minutes to block out the world and get my head in the right space – it’s there at my fingertips.
Okay, this may sound cheesy, but to each his own, right? I have a ‘mailbox’ at work, where we keep all of our stuff. We all share an office so it’s really the only space that’s mine. And you better believe I keep a colouring book and a box of pencil crayons in there. On my lunch break, if it’s been a particularly stressful day, I just color. I don’t know how much I buy-in to the meditative jargon going around coloring books right now, but make no qualms about it, it’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s something you can pick up and do for 20 minutes to distract your brain from running laps on the hamster-wheel-called-stress.
Maybe for you it’s arming yourself with tools at home- like having a bath bomb from LUSH waiting for you when you get home, a glass of wine or a mug of tea, dinner with good friends.. You need to find what distracts you, and make it accessible, so you can tap into it when you need it most.
Become Friends with your Pillow Again.
We’ve all heard the studies. We’re not getting enough sleep. We’re not getting quality sleep either. We all have smartphone screens pinned to our faces until late at night, we’re over-caffeinated, and our minds are active and busy. I get it.
But protect that time. Get in the habit of winding yourself down. Stop the snacking, cut the caffeine when it get’s dark, put your phone away. Dim the lights, turn off the TV, and enjoy the quiet.
Make sleeping a ritual.
Trust and Confide in People.
You are only one person. Your thoughts and feelings, especially when your working through stress, trouble at work, family strife, whatever it may be – can be a lot of burden to bear. Work through it with someone you love and who’s opinion you value and trust. That person doesn’t have to be your spouse or a friend, because honestly, they may be part of the problem you need to vent about. Find a community on Reddit that can help you work through these issues. R/Relationships, R/Work, R/Advice are all great places to start. Sometimes Reddit can be brutal or blunt, but you’ll never find such clarity and honesty than someone outside a situation assessing the whole picture.