Your new year’s resolutions needn’t be drastic and/or dramatic. In fact, if (and when) your grand plans for NEW YEAR NEW YOU NEWNESS inevitably collapse you’ll feel like an even BIGGER bag of shit than when you started. So don’t do it. Instead, make smaller, more achievable changes to your everyday lifestyle that will actually MASSIVELY benefit you in the long run.
I speak from experience, having implemented ALL of the below over the last year or so, and every one of these new ways of thinking/being/doing have been for the best. That’s not to say I’m oh-so saintly all of a sudden (pffffft), or that I don’t have days where I completely screw up, but I don’t beat myself up about it, like you maybe would with a bigger, more specific resolution.
So why not give one, if not all, of these ideas a whirl this new year? They’re small changes but guaranteed to make your life LOADS better. And what’s more, they’re for LIFE, not just
Christmas New Year…
Drink more water.
Your body will thank you for it.
I don’t bother stressing out about the exact amount but basically, drink more than you think you need. Rather childishly, I view water as ‘beauty juice’ and by guzzling the wet stuff over the last few months, I have noticed a marked improvement in my skin (no spots, fewer fine lines) and headaches have become a thing of the past. Best bit of all? IT’S FREE (yup; I’ve just been drinking tap water but 2015 goal will be to go filtered). Try and make an essentially boring drink ‘FUN’ by buying a pretty glass jar to dispense it from or go CRAZY and add a slice of cheeky lemon. Actually, maybe my 2015 upgrade will be to try and drink a cup of boiled water every morning. Gah. Not sure I can go that far just yet…
Drink less alcohol (sorry).
But your body will thank you for it.
I’m going to write a more in-depth post on this, because me and alcohol go way back, and, thanks to my fondness (of old) for getting ON IT, I earned a bit of a rep for being a party animal. I also used alcohol to self medicate and would be known to polish off half a bottle of red wine every night to unwind after a stressful day at work. So, for me to turn around and encourage you to jump on the wagon is a sobering thought, in more ways than one.
I’m not teetotal, btw, but I WAS defo drinking errr damn day. I’ve since cut out drinking completely Mon-Thurs, and now I will have ‘cleaner’ and fewer drinks IF I decide I want to, of a weekend. This means goodbye voddie and cokes (it’s been emotional) and hel-lo gin and slimline tonic (or Prosecco, if I’m feeling flash). I also try and ‘chase’ with a tumbler of water, if I want to be particularly smug.
Cut out (or down on) sugar.
I wrote about this here.
I can honestly say, this is one of the best decisions I ever made, inspired by Nicole Mowbray’s book Sweet Nothing. Coupled with my new-found fondness for H2O, I have noticed a drastic change in my skin tone – less puffy, spotty, no dark circles – no more migraines relating to blood sugar fluctuations and no mid-afternoon energy slump. You can’t get sweeter than that.
Go on more holidays.
I used to be ‘that girl’. The one who only went on a holiday once every two years, thanks to The Fear. Fear that everything at work would fall apart if I left it unattended (thanks, social media career!). Fear that someone might do a better job than me while I was away and I might get sacked. Fear that it was all too expensive and I couldn’t afford it. But after I had a birrova burnout in 2013, my outlook has changed. And actually, it was playing the ‘deathbed regrets’ game (y’know: when you’re old and dying, what are the things you’d regret not doing?) when I realised travel is important to me, not having an empty inbox.
But buy less.
As I mentioned in this post about consumerism and Black Friday, I have found the happier I am, the less I spend. Not rocket science, I know, but this is the first time in my thirty-odd years on the planet that I have truly experienced this. And what’s nice is that, as I’m now earning a decent wage (screw you, publishing world), I’m able to save up for things that will make me even happier, like… more holidays or weekend trips (see my previous point). I’m also trying the old but good trick of drawing out cash and leaving the debit card at home. And not buying 4270837675192 coffees from Starbucks every day has definitely helped.
Remember, the things we need Vs the things we’re told we’re supposed to want are very different. You don’t need to buy ALL THE THINGS to feel like you are good enough, you already are good enough. This year, avoiding making those impulse buys and avoid buyer’s remorse. Make saving SEXY.
I think everyone has an element of creativity in them that, without an outlet, can cause negative long-term effects. I always had a bit of a talent for art, and when I was a kid, would draw constantly. But I stopped, abruptly, after completing my Art Foundation course and getting a full-time job. Life got in the way. It wasn’t until I was helping my parents clear some stuff out of their attic that I discovered all my old artwork – reams and reams of it – and I felt so sad that I had completely smothered a natural talent and instinct inside of me. That cannot be healthy, right? And it feels sort of… ungrateful, too. At the start of 2014, I started sketching as often as I could and posting pics to Instagram. Interest was sparked and I have ended up taking on many private commissions for bespoke portraits and even live illustrated at Yumi’s SS15 press day. Sometimes we should let our natural talent shine through. Do what makes YOU happy, not what you think makes other people happy.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
I picked up Richard Carlson’s book of the same title to read while I was recuperating after my burnout, and it marked a turning point in my way of thinking. I know that, in addition to the often crazy jobs I find myself in, the way I react to, or handle stuff, often doesn’t help the ‘feeling manically overwhelmed’ cause. Added to that, I’m a natural-born worrier, AND a perfectionist to boot. This doesn’t make for an easy, stress-free combo, but slowly I’m learning to let the little things go. There’s nothing as pointless as worrying about something that hasn’t even HAPPENED – something I find myself doing A LOT. I still regularly dip into this book to remind me to not get so worked up about the little things, or life in general. Make ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ your new mantra.
Can’t remember where I got this somewhat cheesy idea from (might have been the book above), but I try and do this every evening before I go to bed without fail. This year, I might try to start writing it down. It’s pretty simple: at the end of every day, perhaps with your partner, exchange the three things you’re most grateful for. Some days, there might be loads – like getting a free coffee at Starbucks (obsessed much?), or the bus driver waiting while you ran to catch it or getting that promotion. Other days, you might give thanks for the simple things, like food on the table, family around you or a roof over your head. Seemingly simple things, but basics which many people in the world do not have. No better way of losing your inner diva, practising a bit of humility and realising that actually, your life really isn’t all that bad.
I’ve mentioned this before, I’m sure. But are you breathing? I mean, obviously you are, else you’d be a bit dead and wouldn’t be reading this, but I mean REALLY breathing? I used to hold my breath without realising. Srsly. Like, while running up the escalator at Oxford Circus to get to work, or if I was frantically typing out an online news story, trying to get it live ASAP. It wasn’t until I started going to yoga that I discovered the importance of breath, and realised that I was a super shallow breather. You’re actually meant to see your stomach inflating as you breathe in, rather than your chest. I now keep a tiny little Buddha on my desk at work, that acts as a prompt whenever I see it, to take a few deep inhalations.
This flows, rather like a Vinyasa, rather nicely from my previous point, and is definitely interconnected. If you can, start practising yoga. Honestly, I used to actively mock my friends who did yoga, and thought it was some kind of hippy madness, and that you needed to be super flexible to go. To be fair, I’d had a bad yoga class experience, where the wiry (slightly scary) male Instructor used to teach us in lycra cycling shorts that made it difficult to know where to look, and once I got the giggles so bad I was asked to leave the class.
I’m pleased to say, my experience second time round has been much more beneficial, and my advice is this:
- Try different classes until you find one you enjoy. There are different types of yoga, and different instructors. You might prefer being in a HUGE class, or feel more comfortable with more direct tuition in a smaller class. You’ll know when you’ve found one that works for you.
- Make it as easy as possible for yourself. If you truly hate getting up early, find an evening class instead. Find one that’s on your way to work, or near home – not one that involves getting 500 different buses. Remove the obvious obstacles.
- Give it time. I was so useless in my first class, I couldn’t touch my toes and sweated BUCKETS during the sun salutations, for all the wrong reasons. I’ve never found sitting cross-legged easy and am a LONG way off lotus position, but all I can say is one day, a few classes in, something clicked and I was hooked. It all seemed to make sense. Once you’ve got enough of a handle on the basic positions you can then allow yourself to breathe deeper into them, and you’ll totally start to reap the rewards. For me yoga, is the perfect blend of movement and mindfulness, and definitely keeps me sane.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all tree-hugger on you here, but ‘green exercise’ makes a measurable difference to your state of mind. I try to take regular time out by strolling through the park and really noticing natural stuff, like the birds singing or a beautiful sunset, while trying – and usually failing – to resist the urge to share on Instagram. Which brings me nicely to…
Switch off social media.
Every now and then. You’ll know when you need to. Just do it. Unplug. Be in the moment, the REAL LIFE one. You’ll never get it back. It’s hard to be in the now if you’re too busy trying to tweet about it. Put as much passion, if not more, into your offline relationships this year, as well as the online ones. As humans, we need to be surrounded by loved ones and other people. Also, without being too morbid, I know several people who lost loved ones – parents – last year. Many of them regret not spending more time with them when they had it. Don’t have that regret.
The other thing that can suck about social media is that it is SO easy to start comparing your life to (the highly edited versions of) others. I’ve read several blog posts about this recently, from super cool people who you assume have got their shit together and would never be plagued with self doubt. Check, for example, Zoe London’s post about being more carefree (with less FOMO) in 2015, and Sara Waiste’s 2015 goals, which I’m basically going to print out and use as my own. Seems crazy to me that two successful, independent WIMMEN of the world would suffer any insecurities at all, but, thanks to social media, it is easier than EVER before to compare your life to others – see also this thought-provoking post from Hannah Gale.
This year, let your mantra be that you are on your own unique journey, and comparing yourself to other people no longer serves you. SO SACK IT OFF FOR GOOD.
Happy 2015! Let me know your own life resolutions in the comments below or tweet me @NatWallers.