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January is usually seen as a pretty bleak month, one that we all just ‘have to get through’ because we spent too much at Christmas or maybe we ate too much. Either way, the start of the year can be hard for all of us for many different reasons. So how do we shake the infamous January blues? Many people look to new years resolutions to help them turn it around, whereas others struggle with the “new year, new me” type of outlook. Here at EKA, we truly believe you can start the year off on a high and improve mental and body health without having the pressure that often comes with new years resolutions. We have chosen our favourite ways in which you can make 2020 your year and shared them below. They might not all be for you but hopefully some may help you to find a new way in which you can be relaxed, happy and positive.
So many of us use the new year to try something brand new, like learning a new language or taking up a new hobby, and although these are great and an amazing thing to do it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself. The start of the year can be hard enough without giving yourself extra pressure to learn a language or how to play the piano. So, instead of learning something completely new why not just do more of what you are already good at? Are you a good drawer? Maybe you could use that skill to start a life drawing class? Or perhaps you have always enjoyed arts and crafts so maybe a pottery class is more you? Whatever you choose to do, the most important thing is to enjoy it! We don’t need to try and change ourselves in unrealistic ways, instead we can just get better at what we already love doing.
Small steps lead to big changes, so avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed by your new goals by simply breaking them down into smaller tasks. For example, lots of people try going vegan or vegetarian for a month and can find it difficult because they end up just eating the same stuff over and over again. If this is happening to you, then why not try breaking it down into weeks. Perhaps the first week could be focused around perfecting Mexican vegan dishes and the second week could be Italian. Or break it down further and have a different theme for the weekend. People say variety is the spice of life, although a bit of a cliche it’s easy to see why this might be true. Don’t worry too much about the big task you may have ahead, instead enjoy each day as it comes and that way you’ll be trying new things on a daily basis and won’t even realise you’re pushing yourself.
Projecting positivity and being kind to others is always important but don’t forget to be kind to yourself! This might seem a little obvious but so many of us are too harsh and strict on ourselves. There are lots of different ways that we can practice being kinder to ourselves, such as giving yourself more recognition when you have done something good. We can be very quick to acknowledge the achievements of others, but slow to acknowledge our own.
Another way is to simply take time out of the day to focus on yourself. You could draw, journal, write short stories, meditate, play a musical instrument, or do anything else that you love to do. Or even just take some time to relax and just ‘be’. You should never feel bad for doing this, sometimes we all just need our own space to quiet our thoughts and truly unwind. So why not tonight, after work, take some time for yourself, light a nice candle (perfect choice for this below) and focus on what makes you happy. If you want to find out a little more about all the ways we can be kinder to ourselves then check out this article from Psychology Today!
Random acts of kindness from strangers will usually have a strong impact on our mood and overall day. It can completely turn a really bad day around even if it’s just a small gesture. It’s strange how much this can affect us but it also shows us how important it is to pay kindness forward where you can. There are lots of different ways you can do this, but you have to be open to the idea of it. You have to look out for the opportunities each day, the world will provide you with many but they are easily missed if we are on our phones or in our own heads. There is a fantastic article by Steve Muller at Planet Success which lists 45 beautiful ways in which we can pay it forward and is truly worth a read!
Let’s say you showed 3 strangers 3 acts of kindness, these 3 people would then show 3 more people the same gesture and so on and so on. Kindness is much more infectious than cruelty, so it’s important that we do this as much as possible to really make a positive change. We know that kindness is linked to wellbeing, so next time you are having a challenging day why not try a random act of kindness, it will make you feel better whilst also helping others.
There are so many benefits of practicing gratitude that we wouldn’t be able to list them all on here! People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.
There is a lot of scientific research out there that supports just how important this is. For example, there is a book called ‘How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier’, which shows us that by simply using a gratitude journal (which is a book used for writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful) can drastically improve our well-being and life satisfaction. So every now and again why not take some time to look around and notice the things that you can be grateful for. This can be really useful if you’re having a stressful day at work too. It’s a great way of putting things into perspective and calming the mind.
The last one we wanted to talk about is the importance of being present in the moment. For some of us, this comes easily, but for the rest of us we can find it difficult to switch off and put our phones down. Whether it’s work or social media that keeps you glued to your phone, the stress of having to constantly check it can be quite harmful on our mindfulness and wellbeing. There have been many studies that show a strong connection between anxiety and the amount of time someone spends on their phone. We all know it’s not healthy but it’s so easy to just pick up your mobile and spend hours scrolling on social media or looking to buy something we don’t really need.
Engaging in conversation with a friend or family member, face to face, builds a connection that no social media could ever rival. Talking to people and listening to people is one of the best and simplest ways in which we can improve our mental health. Not only this but you will also learn more about people, see them in different lights and possibly even improve relationships! It can be difficult to put the phone down, we know, but there are lots of things out there to help. For example, there are apps that limit your phone time, or they can simply let you know how much time you are spending on certain things. This can be a bit of an eye-opener when you see just how much time was spent on Whatsapp or Instagram. Sometimes it’s just a case of out of sight out, of mind. By just removing the phone out of your eyesight and reach you might be surprised at how quickly you forget about it! So why not have a digital detox this week, one evening or even for a whole day if you can manage it! We guarantee you’ll feel the benefits!
These are just a few of our favourite ways in which we can improve our mental health and wellbeing this year. But at the end of the day, it’s all about what you feel comfortable with and what makes you happy. Just remember not to put too much pressure on yourself and enjoy each day as it comes!
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