Another new year generally means a clean slate, a fresh start and for many a whole raft of potentially unrealistic goals to achieve and much-loved indulgences to give up.
So why do we do it to ourselves? Why do we start each new year repeatedly with a long list of do’s and don’ts?
I’m all for self-improvement, learning new skills and trying different things but January is fast becoming the kill joy of all good parties. If you’re one of the brave folks saddled up on the Dry Jan wagon (probably clinging onto the edges of it at this stage), I salute you… but there’s no way I’d be riding it myself (I have small children!!!).
I’ve decided to say no to kale munching, green juices and spin classes because I’m finally realising I need to refocus on what’s achievable, fun and realistic if there’s any hope of me actually sticking to it.
Yes, I’ll try to reduce my booze intake during the week and nourish my body with more colourful foods, as opposed to beige kids’ leftovers. I might even go for a run. But not just for the sake of ‘January goals‘, but because I need an energy boost and because I love the feeling of freedom and peace that running brings me.
My epiphany moment came about after I recently read two separate articles on female hair loss. I remember wrapping my fingers around my hair which used to be a fairly thick handful but was now a pretty pathetic whisp of chestnut. Both articles echoed the key contributors of hair loss in women as being stress, insomnia, low iron, poor diet and in general DOING TOO MUCH!.
Like a lot of you I’m sure, I nodded at each one in turn, all of them most likely caused by the toll of motherhood and the escalating pressures we put on ourselves. Nowadays, children are involved in more activities, people work longer hours and we generally have busier schedules than in previous generations.
So how exactly do we reduce the feelings of stress and chaos caused by these clubs, socials and projects? After a lot of thought, discussions and research, I’ve put together five quick wins to help with stress, simplify our days and hopefully get a little bit of our ‘glow’ back.
Say ‘No’ more!
Learning that it’s ok to say ’no’ now and again is critical to getting the balance right. I noticed last year that I hardly had time to sit and watch TV in the evenings anymore. Instead, I frantically caught up on work, school projects, household bits etc. It all got a bit ridiculous. Be strong - reduce the number of requests from work, school and friends and you’ll find some much needed downtime for yourself.
2) Swap resolutions for intentions
I know we’re already half-way through January but one to remember for next year… try swapping your die-hard resolutions for ‘intentions’: a list of attainable, realistic things - thus increasing your chances of success. This should instantly take some pressure off whilst still allowing you to focus on what it is you’d like to accomplish.
3) Focus that To-Do List
Take a leaf out of Holly Tucker’s (founder of Not on the High Street & Holly & Co.) book. She recognises that people running small businesses (which in turn applies to mothers) have thousands of things whirling around in their heads that all need actioning which can have an overwhelming effect, making you completely unenthusiastic about doing anything.
The simple Very Important To-Do List asks you to choose three tasks only, thus focussing you to complete things you’ve been putting off. Holly writes hers before she goes to bed so she’s organised the following morning. Give them a try!
4) Reduce the clutter
A cluttered living environment can overload the senses and create feelings of anxiety, guilt and defeat. A study by S.Carter, in Psychology Today, revealed reasons why mess causes so much stress, such as distracting us from what we’re trying to focus on, inhibiting creativity and productivity, and making it difficult to relax.
Luckily, clutter is one stress factor that can be tackled relatively easily. The Association of Professional Declutters & Organisers (APDO) encourage you not to give up when decluttering as it’ll look worse before it gets better. Decide what’s unnecessary and try to be strict with yourself. If you haven’t used it for 18 months you’re unlikely to use it again. I usually have three piles; ‘bin / recycle it’, ‘charity shop it’ and ‘sell it’. Another tip the APDO share relates to digital decluttering. Allocating time slots for checking emails and using social media will help combat the constant demands mobiles now have on a person’s attention, allowing you to be more present and less distracted and stressed.
5) Positive relationships
Surround yourself with people that make you smile and feel good about yourself. This is so key. Letting go of a relationship that is causing you anxiety is never going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean you should continue out of habit or loyalty. Maintain those relationships that are supportive, happy and equal.
Good luck if you try any of these tips and remember… do the simple things that make you happy and smile.
Links & Sources:
Very Important To-Do List - Sticky Notes
Why Mess Causes Stress - Sherrie Bourg Carter
5 decluttering tips to help reduce stress - The Association of Professional Declutters & Organisers