“We are What We Do”
With the festivities over are you thinking of making some changes for the New Year? Small changes can make a huge differences to our lives. Here are some that might make 2017 a good one.
Take a Daily Lunchtime Walk
I find some time outside away from my desk is a great way to switch off, clear my brain, relax and refresh. A change of scenery helps to set me up for the afternoon, improves my mood and my productivity. If possible take the walk in nature as nature is a greater soother and healer, it encourages the production of positive hormones like oxytocin that calm our stress.
Baking bread is one of the most enjoyable habits I have, it is a great feeling to make a wholesome bread free from additives. The whole process of mixing and kneading the dough is a great way to de-stress, it makes us focus on the present moment, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
Any kind of slow gentle movement helps us to reconnect with our bodies and to take us out of our heads and the auto-pilot routines that we have. Choose something you think you would enjoy – for some it’s yoga for maybe tai-chi. I personally took up Qigong a few years ago as it helps me to balance and settle without straining or over-stretching the body. I’ve loved it so much I’ve decided to become an instructor in 2017
Turn Off Your Phone An Hour Before Bed
The temptation to keep looking at your phone right up till going to sleep is a normal thing for way to many of us. But the scientific evidence is clear that stimulating the brain with blue light just before bed makes it harder to get a good night’s sleep. I put my phone out of the bedroom to help me resist the temptation to check that last Facebook post – there’s very few time something is so urgent it can’t wait till the morning.
Leave Work on Time
Make a commitment to yourself to leave work on time at least once a week. Setting that as a goal can make us work more efficiently and actually make us more productive. It’s rare for many of us that we need to stay late every night and if we do maybe we should be talking to our managers about our workload.
Drink Enough Water
It’s easy to work away during the day and forget to drink water and instead top up on caffeine or sugary drinks to stay hydrate. I started filling up a bottle of water and keeping next to me, taking regular sips. When it was empty that was a good excuse to get up from chair and take a stretch and break from my desk. I noticed that after a few weeks I felt more clear headed, less tired and also that my snacking had decreased as we often mistake thirst for hunger.
Keep A Gratitude Journal
At the end of every day take some time to reflect on all things that were good, even the smallest moments like sunshine coming through the window is worth noting. It’s amazing how much good there is in a day and if you learn to cultivate a habit of turning towards the positive it lower our stress.
I came across mindfulness when I went through a period of corporate burnout, which caused my blood pressure to run sky high and I generally felt my life was out of control. It helped me to realise that I had the ability to use the breath to pause when things got too much. It made me able to stay in the present moment and not catastrophize situations. Years later I meditate daily for 20 minutes and find that I have choices in life of how I’d like to respond to situations, which often means that I find I have more time.
What rituals and routines work for you?