Life just gets better at this time of year. As the seasons change and our biological clocks finally adjust, we often feel a surge of energy which is as a direct effect of all that lovely, natural Vitamin D from having more hours of daylight, serotonin from exercising more as we spend time outside in the fresh air and just an all-round feeling of wellbeing from seeing flowers burst into bloom and blue skies instead of grey.
Often we spring clean our houses because suddenly we can see all the dust now that the windows are open and sunlight is streaming in, but what if we applied that metaphor to our personal and work lives and did a ‘life spring clean’ – throwing out what is no longer needed at this time each year?
It’s easy to do and is really just a case of taking an hour one morning to sit down and work out what is currently making you happy and what is taking up space, making you sad, or gathering dust in your world. Here are a few starting points but once you get going you’ll notice that just a few tweaks in your daily routine will result in you feeling happy, healthy and full of energy as you’ll have more time to focus on yourself and that all important self-care.
CLAIM AN EXTRA HOUR FOR YOURSELF EACH DAY: If you went to bed half an hour later and woke up half an hour earlier, that would give you a whole extra hour each day to yourself. Anna Wintour swears by going to bed at 10pm and getting up at 5am every day. That’s seven hours sleep in total and she wakes early so she can play tennis. Michelle Obama gets up at 4.30am to workout and get quality time with husband Barack who hits the gym with her but usually she’s in bed early. With an extra hour each morning you could sit down and write that book you’ve always wanted to pen, or you could use it to go for a long walk and enjoy nature, take a relaxing bath, or go for a morning run. having extra me time will make you feel happier and less overwhelmed and put upon in all the other areas of your life.
JUST SAY NO! – THROW AWAY OBLIGATIONS: Mastering the ability to be able to say no and not feel as though you have to find excuses to do so can be a tricky one. We all suffer from apologising for ourselves and feeling as though we have to do things because others have asked us to. Try saying no to more things each and every week, particularly social engagements you don’t really fancy going to. Your main obligation is to yourself and if you’re feeling over-loaded that has an impact on your stress levels which can make you ill in the long-term. Use that spare time you’ve won from turning down an event to do something that’s just for you and you alone. Perhaps you have always wanted to go to therapy and conquer a nagging issue, or perhaps you want to try a new yoga class but never quite seem to get around to it? – Here’s your chance.
CLEAN OUT YOUR FRIENDS LIST: There are some people that come into our lives forever, and others that only stay for a short while. If you have friends that are draining you of energy and are over-demanding, or get huffy when you won’t do things then take a step back. Friends should enrich our lives, rather than drag us down or make us feel negative affecting our wellbeing. Instead of taking that call where they whine about their latest woes for two hours without pausing for breath to ask how you are, don’t answer. Spend the time treating yourself to an at home spa, with a full face mask, manicure and pedicure, with uplifting music on and scented candles burning. Or perhaps you could do some yoga and meditation. We are not teenagers anymore and don’t need to be joined at the hip to our friends. We see our friends to catch up when it suits both parties, rather than act as their personal on call 24/7 therapist.
DUST OFF YOUR DIET & WORKOUT ROUTINE: You know that you’ll feel happier and healthier if you start prioritising nutritious meals and regular exercise. But what if you already do workout and eat healthily but you’re feeling bored of it all? The best trainers often never make their clients do the same workout twice. They mix it up, with the theory being that a bored client will eventually stop coming to classes, and the fact that our muscles and metabolisms tend to adapt to routines making toning and weight loss harder over time. If you do cardio one day and Pilates reformers the next the time you work out, it won’t feel so monotonous and it keeps your muscles working. Consider trying a couple of new recipes when you’re cooking (Google is overflowing with ideas) and signing up for some exercise classes which you have never tried before. Arial yoga – we are coming for you!
GIVE UP ANXIETY & GIVE THANKS: People who are into yoga and meditation often encourage their clients to practice gratitude. It’s so easy: If you’re feeling anxious, mentally list three things that you’re thankful for in your life. If you can’t get to sleep, start thinking about all the people in your life you’re lucky to have, if you’re feeling depressed, grab a pencil and paper and write down all the things you’re fortunate to have. It’s a very mentally healthy practice and one to fall back on whenever you’re feeling down.
TEAR UP THE TO-DO LIST: Instead of making endless lists that never get done, try freeing up more time in each day. If you’re at work it’s very easy to procrastinate and waste time on social media websites like Facebook. The simple cure for this is to download a browser extension called ‘Waste No Time’. It blocks certain websites (of your own choosing), or only lets you on them during set hours each day (which you can decide). It also adds up and shows you how many hours you have spent surfing each and every site you visit. Nobody wants to see a stark reminder that they have wasted what equates to an entire year of their life liking photos on Facebook. With no distractions you can whip through your daily tasks, whether that is life admin or work, then you’ll have a whole evening free to enjoy a nutritious dinner, or pamper yourself.
DO A DIGITAL DETOX: If your work emails go straight to your phone, don’t look at them or answer them out of official work hours. Once your boss thinks they have your ear at 7am on a Sunday all bets are off with regards to having a peaceful weekend and a healthy work/life balance. Be strict with yourself and others. And, if you find it hard not peeking – you can disable your emails on your phone and manually download them instead. Try leaving your phone at home on Sundays. Gift yourself two hours each evening of phone-free time, especially before or when you are in bed. Yes, the good folks of Instagram can live without you regramming that hilarious photo you saw on your feed while scrolling at 2am. Curl up and treat yourself to a lovely, luxurious beauty sleep instead. You will wake rested with more energy and an overall feeling of wellbeing.