Theme: A few of my favourite things
I write this list partially for myself to give me a prompt too and remind myself of a few habits that have trailed off.
I regularly change my routine around to keep it fresh and try a different class. My preferences change as often as my socks, and sometime I will take time out from it altogether.
I find the instructor can make a hell of a difference too, so if you are not gelling with one, try another. If you struggle to motivate yourself to exercise, why not book a friend in to go too, then you will have to go, you have made a commitment to a friend.
Be brave and open minded
Don’t be afraid to try something new. I never thought I would ever try Zumba (this ass is not for shaking), yoga (too bendy for me) or mindfulness (that is just for hippies and Buddhist monks right?). Now I am a total convert to each.
I have been to two recently and they have both taught me new things about skin care, introduced me to a world of products and they have now likely got a customer for life. Plus you usually get discounts at these things. And even if you don’t end up buying anything, you get a free evening of trying new products and come out with your skin glowing. Win, win.
Have (at least) a technology-free half hour every day - and use it to pamper yourself, meditate, go for a walk, have a bath, reflect on your day, read or whatever else you feel would calm your mind and help you to switch off. Anything that is just for you. Lock yourself away and tell your family/partner/cat they have to leave you alone for this time.
Create a plan
Write yourself out a plan and stick to it. Put it somewhere you will see it every day. And if the plan says you are going to meditate on Monday and walk on a Wednesday, do it! You’ll start feeling more fabulous by Friday. I seriously need to take my own advice on this one.
Trying eating a mixture of different coloured foods throughout the day. This will make you get a variety of nutrients into your diet and away from pasty looking potatoes and chicken, a staple many of us get stuck on. It also makes your meals look much more interesting and vibrant, and will make you experiment with foods in different combinations and cooking methods.
Get outside more
It is so easy to collapse on the sofa at the end of a busy work day, or a day parenting. But try to make the effort to get outside, even if to just stand in your garden for 15 minutes or walk around the block, and breathe in some fresh air. If you can do this alone, even better. Again, practice what you preach Helen! We also find our archery is a great way of getting outside, and getting some exercise as a bonus.
One of the latest trends to come out of Scandinavia, Hygge is all about embracing the home and family. It is “the practice of creating cosy and congenial environments that promote emotional wellbeing”.
You can’t fail with a strategy that recommends curling up with a good book under a blanket by candlelight surely?! It is a great plan to embrace in winter, the Scandis are pros at dealing with long dark nights after all. There are many inexpensive books around at the moment with little tips for turning your house into a Hygge wonderland.
Learn to spot the signs that you are overdoing it. For some it may be withdrawing for your friends, becoming increasingly emotional, putting on/losing weight quickly, or maybe it is increased drinking and emotional eating. We all have our different ways of coping, and it is vital to be able to recognise your own signs that you need to take some time out. And also to have a plan of action to put in place to counteract them.
Don’t be afraid to get professional help.
To hell with the stigma! If you need someone to talk to, go and get it. It will help. And there are free services out there (albeit sometimes with a bit of a waiting list), so check what is available in your area, ask your doc, or find a free course online. Many courses also have free Facebook groups that you can join and get an extra bit of support.
You don’t have to be chronically bad to seek help either, if you are just feeling a bit fraught, emotional or on the verge of burnout then that can be a great time to get help, before it reaches crisis point. If you really all feeling that all is lost, please talk to someone. Anyone. Now.
Ooh that ended on a bossy note, but it was needed.
Sure there are many more things I have tried and that worked for me, but these are some of the key tips that made a difference for me.
For those of you that feel like a bit of a review of your routine may be helpful here is a simple Activity Diary resource which I was prompted to try in a CBT course.
A great way to look at how much quality time you are giving yourself is to complete this activity diary for a week. This is simply a table where you mark each hour what you are doing. At the end of the day, highlight where you have taken time for yourself. You will be surprised with the results. I certainly was. I was taking about half an hour to an hour a week for myself when I initially did this. Otherwise it was work, work, work. No wonder burnout hit me like a bus.
So I then used the diary to plan ahead for the following weeks - scheduling in things I was going to do, for me, Whether it was to meet a friend, read a book, do some yoga, go for a walk. I had to book time in daily. And I was surprised by how much, week on week, this did help me to feel better and give me something to look forward to. I will occasionally do this practice again when I feel I have lost some momentum and slipped back to my old ways.
Give it a try, you might surprise yourself.