We’re now already halfway through January 2016 – I can’t believe it either. How many resolutions have you broken? Did you even have time to make them? Don’t fret, just because you didn’t sit down on the 1st January 2016 and write a detailed list of rules to live by and post a status on Facebook saying ‘New year, new me’ doesn’t mean you have to wait until 2017 to improve yourself.
Everyone is searching for this mysterious thing called ‘happiness’ – but sometimes it can be confusing on how to get there; January is known as a depressing month, but it doesn’t have to be. It is a time for new beginnings, new prospects and a ‘new you’ if you’re into that. However, this post is just about making you a happier version of yourself, for a longer period than laughing at Megan McKenna’s funny five minutes on Celebrity Big Brother.
Here are ten steps to think about when on the quest to find happiness in 2016…
Don’t make resolutions, make goals.
Resolutions are usually strict rules, such as ‘don’t touch another carb in your life’ and ‘spend 10 hours a day in the gym’ or ‘don’t even look at cake.’ However, did you ever hear the saying ‘rules are made to be broken’? This is true for resolutions, everyone has a weak moment and then afterwards you feel depressed and disappointed in yourself for eating that cake with 24 servings and washing it down with a nice bottle of wine. Instead, set yourself goals – this way you can treat yourself whilst still aiming for success.
The phrase ‘mindfulness’ is being thrown around left, right and centre at the moment and this is because of the incredible success stories surrounding the exercise. If you haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about, don’t worry. Mindfulness is a way to train your brain in numerous ways – if you thought your brain was fixed it’s not – mindfulness can improve your attention, change your way of thinking, improve your mood and even prevent physical illnesses. For more information I suggest you read Ruby Wax – Sane New World, or her most recent release The guide to mindfulness for the FRAZZLED.’ She gives an in depth explanation of what mindfulness is, how it works, the science-y stuff about the effects on your brain and makes you laugh in the process.
Try and eat healthily, but don’t force yourself to eat food you hate.
Food should be enjoyed, I repeat, food should be enjoyed. Eating well has huge health benefits that have probably been drummed into you, so I won’t bore you. However, eating well also makes you feel better about yourself – not just because it improves your complexion and is good for your tummy. Eating the right food releases all the right chemicals into your body to make you feel happy, for example, avocados are rich in serotonin! However, don’t force yourself to eat avocados if you hate avocados; there are hundreds of healthy recipes and tasty fruits out there to eat. Try out some new recipes until you know what you like, and have fun in the process!
I know what you’re thinking.. This is beginning to sound like your cliché ‘New Years Resolutions’ list, but bear with me. This does’t mean you have to buy an expensive gym membership and force yourself to do your work whilst in the plank position – although these both work (if you use the expensive gym memberships). Exercise releases serotonin which is a mood boosting chemical, and you only need to make small changes to your routine to feel these results; walk to the shop instead of driving (don’t do this when you’re doing a big shop, you’ll end up crying because the bags of food are hurting your hands so much and you’ll start to wonder if you’ll ever make it home again), take the stairs instead of the lift (again, if there are 99 floors and you’re trying to get to the top, perhaps take the lift to the 96th floor and walk the rest).
During the cold winter months you may feel like hiding under the duvet and watching Netflix all day however this will only get you down. In this day and age, being lazy is frowned upon and you will finish the day feeling unachieved. Although there is nothing wrong with taking a well-needed rest day, just don’t make everyday a rest day. Laughing and talking will instantly improve your mood, sitting home alone will only make you feel unproductive and alone. However, if you really can’t face the cold January air, invite a friend around to watch Netflix.
Reading isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and for some people, it never will be. However, there is no better feeling than getting absorbed in a good novel, and when you finished it you feel achieved. Reading also creates new connections in your brain which means you are physically becoming a better version of yourself. There are a huge range of reading materials – you don’t have to battle your way through a Shakespeare play or a 400 word literary fiction novel. Blogs, magazines, thriller fiction, find what you like and enjoy! Learning new things when you’re not forced to is exciting and can lead you to new opportunities or a new direction in your life.
Being productive doesn’t mean writing an endless list to get through in one day and then being upset when you don’t finish the infinite amount of jobs you’ve given yourself. This means completely a small amount of tasks, or finally finishing a piece of work you’ve been putting off for ages. Putting your feet up with a glass of wine in hand later will feel so much better knowing you’ve cleared the overflowing basket of washing – trust me. So in 2016, don’t set yourself up for failure with a list that’s so long the end is in a different time zone – know what is manageable and then work hard to complete the tasks.
Yes, this is England, and yes, April showers seem to have come early this year so I understand if singing in the rain isn’t really your thing – it’s certainly not mine. However if there is a break in the clouds then try and get outdoors. Fresh air will instantly make you feel healthier and sunlight gives you that ever so important dose of Vitamin D which is a mood enhancer. No sun, no problem. If the lack of sunlight is really getting you down (you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder, it might be worth looking it up) then you can purchase a SAD lamp – this gives you the useful Vitamin D without exposing you to harmful UV rays. If neither of these options work for you, you have 9 other ways to have a happy 2016 and you can look forward to summer at the same time.
Don’t be mean to yourself.
Unfortunately, humans are naturally pessimistic types, we can blame our primitive ancestors for that. We are made to be constantly on edge, ready to fight or flight, because in the past this was the case. However, in the modern day, this trait manifested itself as critical voices in our mind, this is why we are our own worst critic. If you continue to put yourself down, it becomes habit, and this habit will then become your personality and then you will start to believe these critical voices. So please, be nice to yourself, congratulate yourself on stacking the dishwasher, believe you are Beyoncé when you’ve had one too many and believe karaoke is a fantastic idea.
Always give yourself something to look forward, but don’t disregard the present day.
Sometimes we can feel down in the dumps and lack motivation. If this is the case, always have something to look forward to, this could be anything for dinner when you get home from work or a trip to the Caribbean. Don’t make the mistake of wishing away your days in order to get to this event however; each day is a gift and thus another opportunity to be happy.
I hope you have a fantastic 2016, full of laughter, achievements and good food. xo.