Now that January is over, 80% of those who made a New Year’s resolution have already failed. The New Year is a great time to make positive change but often the goals we set ourselves are too unrealistic which puts undue pressure on our already heavy shoulders. It’s no secret that stress is on the rise and this is having a huge impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing. Most of us can benefit from making small changes to our life in order to take better care of ourselves. Embrace these simple self-care strategies into your routine for a happier, calmer you:
- Be more present
It’s all too easy for us to go through our daily routine on auto-pilot, paying no attention to what’s going on around us. We’re often distracted by mental to-do lists and stressing about getting everything done. The next time you catch yourself doing this, bring your mind back to the present. Use all of your senses to focus on what you can hear, see, smell, touch and feel. Even mundane tasks like taking a shower or walking to work can be an opportunity to stop thinking about the day ahead. Concentrate on the sensation of the water on your body, the smell of freshly baked bread from a nearby café, or the sounds of people laughing in the distance. It’s a great way to take a mental timeout from daily pressures and you will feel more balanced and refreshed as a result.
- Change your routine
To further break up the monotony of everyday life, mix things up by walking a different route to the office, trying out a new sandwich shop or reading a book on the train instead of checking your Instagram. Breaking habits creates new neural pathways and helps to keep your brain healthy.
- Dettach for 15 minutes
Turn off your phone and your computer, turn off the lights, shut your door and relax. I don’t mean sleep – although that is of course another important self-care strategy – but relax. This is a skill that many of us have yet to master. Focus on your breathing. Long, slow breaths in through your nose, filling your diaphragm until there’s no more room left. Then slowly breathe out, breathing out stress and tension. 15 minutes of this everyday, particularly if done at the start of your day, will send you off into the world feeling calm, undisturbed and rested.
An obvious one perhaps, but not to be underestimated. Yes you are overworked and yes you have little time to yourself, but staying up until 1am and grabbing six hours sleep is going to leave you more easily irritated and overwhelmed during the day, not to mention (according to studies) shave years off your life. It may also be impacting on other areas of your life that are causing you stress (weight gain, infertility, high blood pressure etc). Of course you need to prioritise downtime but you absolutely must prioritise your physical and mental health too. Every person is different but aim for 7-8 hours a night. If you have been depriving yourself of sleep for a long time, don’t expect a change from one early night. It takes time to build up a significant sleep debt to recover fully.
- Treat yourself
Whilst rewards must be earned, a treat is a small pleasure that can bring immediate contentment and satisfaction. Treats can reinforce good habits as it boosts our self-regard and makes us feel cared for. By valuing yourself you will most likely gain more self-control. Having a 20 minute nap before picking the kids up or grabbing a coffee and reading the paper before work, will make you feel less resentful for the things that deplete your time and energy. You can give more of yourself if you give more to yourself.
- Be good to your gut
Try plant based eating one or two days per week. No meat, no eggs and no dairy. This is not about restricting yourself and putting yourself on a punishing diet. Instead, it’s about health-focused eating with an emphasis on whole foods derived from plants. We’re talking fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes and grains. It can take a period of time for your body to adjust, but you will feel invigorated with increased energy, improved sleep and digestion and a greater sense of wellbeing. It will open up a new way of eating that is both challenging and exciting. Eating more plants is always a good thing.
If you need any help with any of the things I’ve mentioned in this post, or if you would like to find out how hypnotherapy may benefit you, please get in touch.