The start of each New Year, in the aftermath of an unavoidably indulgent festive season, brings with it an expectation for us to add yet another "thing" to our ever expanding to-do list. But hold that thought, what’s the point of these new year’s resolutions? Perhaps it is to reassess your priorities and make more time in your life to learn Latin like you’ve always wanted to, but for many of us we end up falling into “resolutions” that feel more like penance.
I'm not a huge fan of them, I have to say. Nowadays we spend most of our time feeling overwhelmed and stressed, constantly striving to get to the end of the (never-ending) to-do list. As human beings we’re kind of obsessed with achieving things, and while that can be pretty satisfying, it’s easy to forget that this whole game of life is a journey not a destination. Goals and direction are wonderful things - they give us focus and inspiration - but it’s pretty important to make sure you remember to enjoy the ride too.
So perhaps adding that obligatory trip to the gym that you hate isn’t the best thing for you. The underlying intention of keeping fit is great, but if you hate going to the gym, I think we can both predict that it’s not likely to last. And if it does, you’ll be miserable (Nb. journey not destination).
Here are some little ideas for this year that are all about helping you enjoy the journey:
1. Be kinder to yourself. Think about the way you talk to yourself: when you look at yourself in the mirror or when you try to do up the belt of your trousers. 99.9% of us would agree that if someone else were to talk to us the way we talk to ourselves, we wouldn’t waste much time in giving them a slap and never talking to them again. So why let the voice inside your head talk to you like that? Let’s face it, it’s going to be with you the rest of your life, why not change the settings and say nicer things to yourself?
2. Drink 2 litres of water every day. Your body is 70% fluid and as you breathe and move you're constantly using up water, so you need to be replacing it. Clean, pure water and if you can drink a large glass of warm water (I’d mix half cold with half boiled water) in the morning that’s the best way to gently wake your body up.
3. Sleep between 7 and 8 hours every night. It’s vital to get good, uninterrupted sleep each night – this is the time when your body cleanses, repairs and regenerates. While it’s tempting to stay up all hours, you’ll pay a price the next day as you will have missed the time when your body should have been naturally detoxing, and you’ll end up reaching for the caffeine or sugar, which in itself becomes a vicious cycle. If you can't sleep, make sure you are at least resting.
4. Be still first thing in the morning and last thing at night. How much time do you spend doing absolutely nothing? We’re bombarded 24/7 with something demanding our attention: tv, music, family, work, instant messaging. But it’s just not how we’re supposed to be and no wonder most of us experience stress on a weekly, if not daily basis. Take 5 minutes before you start your day to sit down and just focus on your breath, in and out. And if you find yourself getting stressed during the day, make the time to disconnect and focus on your breath. Even if the only quiet place in the office or the house is the loo, go in, lock the door and just be... even if it’s for 60 seconds.
5. Do something you love to do – follow your bliss. Making time for the things you enjoy doing isn’t self-indulgent, it’s being true to who you are and what you’re about. If you love to paint, dance, write, listen to music, skype good friends, sing, be in the garden – whatever it is that makes your heart sing, make sure you’re including it in your life. Otherwise, what’s the point? (Nb. journey, not destination)
6. Keep as much of the fruit and vegetables in your diet raw. Heating vegetables at high temperatures destroys vital nutrients. Eating your fruit and vegetables raw means that you’re getting the maximum nutrition from what you’ve bought. And of course, juicing is an excellent way of disguising the “very good for you” but not so delicious veggies with a little bit of fruit and a few good recipes. (Nb. journey, not destination)
7. Find a way of exercising that you enjoy. I’m sure that most of us can find a form of exercise that’s enjoyable – gym sessions may well float your boat, but if they’re don’t then find something that you do enjoy doing. Walking, dancing, cycling, yoga-ing, skipping, trampolining – if you enjoy doing it you will always get better results. (Nb. journey, not destination)
8. Be thankful for what you do have. Happiness, and conversely depression, are products of what we choose to focus on. For many of us our default setting is to compare what we have, with what we think we want to have – and more often than not the conclusion we draw is that what we do have isn’t good enough. Whether it’s the relationship, the job, the body or the car, those kinds of comparisons can easily lead you to feel unhappy, and even depressed. But when we start to focus and appreciate what we do have in our life and count our blessings, our perspective and energy begin to shift. Giving thanks for the things in your life gives has been proven to help depression. Put a pad of paper beside your bed and write 5 things you’re grateful for each night e.g. your bed, your dinner, the roof over your head. If you ever feel really low, write 10, 20 or 30.
9. Write your goals or wishes down on a piece of paper. If you’ve got a goal in mind that you would love to attract into your life, write it down. Put it somewhere private where you see it occasionally and let it be a reminder of what you want more of in your life and where you are headed (without compromising the journey too much).
10. Give yourself a break if you “fall off the wagon” or “drop the ball”. We’re all human, there’s no one on earth who’s perfect and doesn’t make mistakes. If you end up taking a slight detour, you don’t need to wait until the 1st of January 2016 to get back on the horse, just dust yourself off and get yourself back on track.