New Year's resolutions or new resolutions
As we've reached the end of January, I'm now reflecting on my lack of New Year's resolutions. I did not write any and I am yet to write my goals for the year.
I have not ever been one to make New Year's resolutions, but I do make new resolutions all the time. It should not come as a surprise that, as a hypnotherapist, I am a firm believer in continual self-development. This for me is a pleasure rather than a chore. I love learning and I love growing (mindfully rather than physically!)
So instead of focusing on what I have not done, I find positivity in giving thought to what I have done. Last year I made some great changes, it is important when I make a big change that I consider it a trial. Life is capricious so it helps to be adaptable (this I am not!) though I am able to change my own behaviours when I recognise that something will propel me forward.
I am going to share some of the positive changes I made to my life last year, changes that I will continue forward until they no longer work for me. They all have good reason behind them, to support my mental and physical health. Maybe if you are stuck in a rut the same changes will help you too.
Rising at 5am
At the beginning of last year, I realised after nine years of being a parent - yes it took me nine years! - that I felt tired. I felt tired every evening as I laid my head down in between my children to be with them, cuddling and comforting as they drifted into a peaceful slumber. I found myself staggering out of the darkness into bright light, the warmth of the bed leaving me as I peeled off the duvet to sneak quietly away. The cosiness gone and me a blinking wreck of exhaustion. Falling down the stairs to reach the mess of the day. Sometimes already tidy, other times not.
I would look from the sofa to my computer, notice the mess again and feel completely overwhelmed, not knowing whether to take a proactive approach to my evening or collapse onto the sofa to watch a dull TV programme alongside my partner. There was the potential of a mumbled conversation but generally, energy was low and the need to switch off high.
We permitted ourselves to travel upstairs to bed once we had experienced enough hours downstairs to call it a sufficient evening. At 6.30 am the ear-piercing chime of an iPhone alarm signalled the start of a new day. Of course, the snooze button was hit several times because everyone was too damn tired to do anything about it.
It occurred to me one insightful evening that if I were to roll out of the children’s bed and into my own, I would have a full eight hours of sleep by 5 am the next morning. Anything I can do in the evening I can do in the morning. So, I trialled it, just for a week when my partner was away.
It worked! I awoke, before my alarm, each morning bright-eyed and full of energy. When my partner returned, he felt happy joining me for early bedtimes, not so happy for early mornings but he has since grown to love them, starting work at 5.30 am means finishing at 1.30 pm for him.
Our new rhythm is now established, and we love it. One day it will change, as life does but for now, we have energy, we are proactive, and life feels good!
Reduce my screen time
As time goes on, we learn more about the negative effects of screen time. Whether it be the blue light that jeopardises sleep, online bullying or grooming, the addictive techniques used by developers or that we are products sold to advertisers - screens do as much harm as they do good.
I looked at my screen time and I did not feel comfortable with it. I’m a research geek and I will spend hours searching for the best deal, best day out, best holiday, best information – whatever it may be I will not stop until I feel completely satisfied that I have checked every option. However, I also found that I would scroll through my phone every time my mind was not occupied. Leaving me with little time for reflection, time to be creative, time to explore, time to just be. Completely unnecessary mindless scrolling.
The first step I took to reduce my screen time was to add limits to the amount of time I could spend on each app. I did this via the settings menu on my phone. It worked to an extent. The second step was to stop taking my phone into my children’s bedroom during their bedtime. Instead, I took a book. This step created greater change in my life.
I love reading but had neglected it. This has changed completely, I read books in the day when I find a spare half hour, my children see me reading and feel inspired. When I finish reading, I feel good, contrasting to the negative feelings I am sometimes left with after a scroll through social media.
My most recent change is to turn my phone off for twenty hours each week. I choose to do so on a Thursday. I will turn it off at 9 am and back on again at 5 am the next morning. I feel liberated during those hours. It also takes a lot of ancient planning! I need to check out the route if I will be travelling, make proper arrangements if I am meeting someone and write down any notes that can only be found on my phone.
I am eager to see where my screen time will go in the future because I still do not feel comfortable with spending 39 of my days and nights each year looking at a phone screen, which is what I do now, when I spend approximately three hours per day, six days per week doing so.
Considering my body and mind
I have exercised at least three times per week for the past twenty years and I always try to eat healthily. However, the past year brought a different focus to the way I view food and exercise. Instead of plodding the streets running, I am more holistic about the method of exercise I choose. I am combining strength training with running and swimming. I have learnt about the benefits of strength training and enjoy feeling stronger.
My attention has switched paths, rather than the priority being image it is now health. Alongside this, I try to view food as fuel. Every day I move further away from the paradox that is to treat oneself with food. Taking one biscuit as a treat because I have been good all week no longer makes sense. For many of us, there is a large misalignment between our taste buds and what our body needs to survive. The food industry as it stands will only make that disparity greater.
Food is a treat for our body when the nutrition allows it to function optimally, in the same way we treat a car well by giving it the fuel it needs.
As I approached the end of this story, I allowed myself to procrastinate for a few minutes, with a hot cup of herbal tea and two squares of super dark raw chocolate. I flicked through my emails and came across an interesting newsletter, at the end was the following paragraph.
“Set aside time tonight to do a full moon ritual and write down what you have accomplished in the past six months and honour what you have achieved so far through such a difficult time and of course use this full moon to release on paper what is no longer serving you. Safely burn it in a fireproof dish so it can be transmuted by the lunar energy.”
A healthy coincidence! Maybe take some time now to write your accomplishments, if it is unnatural to congratulate yourself it will take some time. Keep your list beside you and add to it as the days go on. They will be many achievements, for sure.