As the new year approaches, we look for ways to improve ourselves and our lives. How do we improve ourselves? How do we live more fulfilling? Here, we believe the biggest changes start with your inner self. Welcome to your new year and your new you.
1. Mind: Getting Centered
Step into the new year a little lighter with a clearer mind and body, free from the baggage of previous years.
The first step lies in recognising your thoughts. Conscious journaling is the form of clearing out all your thoughts onto paper (a brain dump essentially!) in order to be able to liberate yourself from them. Once your everyday thoughts and feelings are poured out, you’ve cleared some space in your mind and you’re able to get some perspective on your feelings.
With this, start writing down your goals and then divide them into achievable actions. What are the steps you need to take to fulfil each goal? Once you have your goals written out with corresponding action plans and timelines, your desires become much easier to visualise and achieve!
Along with journaling, focusing inward with practices like meditation and yoga will help clear your mind by releasing bottled up stress and anxiety, creating more space to manifest all your goals and resolutions with a newfound sense of peace.
While it’s hard to stop and sit still, I find that meditation apps like Headspace and Breathe provide motivation through a guided routine that can help shut out the outside world. Just three minutes of deep, conscious breathing have proven to significantly reduce stress levels. Carve out a few minutes for mindfulness during your morning routine to start the day with a sense of clarity and relaxedness, or practice it whenever you can grab a few minutes (I like to switch off while sitting in traffic!) for a quick revival.
Yoga, a moving meditation, follows the same principles with the added benefit of building your core strength, dually strengthening your body and mind. While classes are great, yoga is one of the few exercises you can practice just as well at home! Set aside ten to fifteen minutes a day (which you can build upon) and find a routine of core asanas that work for you – mentally and physically. Whether you’re just starting out or are already a practitioner, an app like Pocket Yoga allows you to create a custom routine while Simply Yoga acts as your personal instructor and helpfully guides you through one.
Remember, consistency creates balance and balance contributes to contentedness.
2. Body: Eating Mindfully
A good diet not only improves your health but its effects show up on your skin and hair and contribute to your emotional wellbeing. Food nourishes and fuels our body so it’s important to consider what we feed it. Spend a session with a nutritionist to create a plan suitable for your body and try to follow it. A little discipline soon turns into a habit which brings lasting changes. A good sustainable theme to follow is to eat as natural as possible and ditch the refined and processed stuff. A natural diet, is simply eating food in its purest state. In its purest state, each food contains the maximum number of vital nutrients: the more it’s processed, the more nutritional benefits it loses.
Try and eat products where you recognize all the ingredients: if you can’t pronounce something, you probably shouldn’t be consuming it. Add some more raw vegetables to your diet (the ideal plate is made up of two-thirds vegetables) and make it colorful: the different colors of vegetables each carry special nutrients so add some cheer with a rainbow! To feel sharper, increase the good fats (the kind we all need) by swapping refined vegetable oil for healthy fats like ghee and coconut oil. Processed sugars permeate all kinds of packaged and processed foods (think cereals, soft drinks, sauces and condiments) and slow down the brain – try and replace these where you can with natural sweeteners such as jaggery, coconut sugar or agave. Clean eating is a lifestyle change which promises to lead to your happiest and healthiest body. Try and it feel the glow.
3. Wellbeing: Decluttering
One of the most apt practices for the fresh beginnings a new year is ‘out with the old and in with the new’. A good way to start clearing out your mind is by uncluttering your surroundings. Focus on keeping what fits in your life now, not what fit in the past or could fit in the future, and make sure everything has its own place. Start with your wardrobe and then tackle the other areas of your home. Edit your clothing collection to pieces you love, wear frequently and feel good in – an edited wardrobe not only makes getting dressed quicker but it allows you to truly appreciate and enjoy what you have! Take it one day at a time and at your own pace. Get to work on that beauty drawer which is overflowing with powders and potions or sort through all those papers that have been piling up on your desk. Be mindful of the things you want to keep and let go off. As you start to eliminate, you’ll be left with objects that inspire positive emotional sentiments and the process will start to feel therapeutic and empowering.
In the same way, use this time to sort out your emotional clutter. Take a step back and do a quick assessment of your relationships. We’re all influenced in some way by the people we spend the most time with and so make sure that you’re surrounded by positive influences. Which relationships are mutual and which are not? Which make you feel secure and good about yourself? Use the new year to spend the most time with the people who truly make you happy and reconsider spending as much time with those who don’t.
4. Rest: Sleep
In order to be on top of your game every day, your body needs enough time to unwind and restart. Making sleep a priority makes us ready to conquer the world, increasing our energy, focus, decision-making and mood. So, enjoy the process of shutting down. Create a nighttime routine that eases your body into relaxation. An hour before your designated bedtime, switch over to a softer light, light a scented candle or some aromatherapy oil, brew a cup of warm camomile tea, power off the digital distractions (the blue screens of our devices only stimulate us further) and snuggle down with some well-chosen reading material. Aim to fall asleep and wake up at the same time everyday – this will set your body’s internal cycle and improve the quality of your sleep. Give yourself the time to clock in about seven to nine hours a night and then let your body do its thing; you will literally wear the rewards!
5. Happiness: Creating Joy
Whilst getting wrapped up in our busy schedules that revolve around work, working out, spending time with family, social obligations, parties and so on, it’s easy to forget what brings us joy and then actually designating time to that. This new year, make yourself a priority and focus on enjoying the little (as well as big) things. Don’t feel obliged to attend every social obligation if you need a night in, and devote time to what invigorates you. Create a list of twelve things that will bring you joy over the year and aim to do one a month. Plan a visit to those architectural ruins you always wanted to see, wake up early for that hike that promises lush views, get stuck in that book that’s been sitting on your reading list, perfect the recipe for that energising breakfast smoothie and spend time within the company of those you most enjoy! As Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week and a master in prioritising, points out, time is a currency so use it well (and happily).
As the new year approaches, I begin to make a plan to cleanse and detoxify the various aspects of my life. I’ve been researching new ways to cook a well-rounded plate of vegetables in order to make meals more exciting, I’ve downloaded a sleep journal from here to understand how many hours of sleep I require a night and I’ve started to declutter my digital and physical workspace to be ready for all the new projects I’ll start working on after the holidays. Over the past year, I’ve longed to spend more time with some certain people and I’m re-assessing my schedule to make that happen! As I look forward to a more focused and joyful 2019, I’d love to hear what you’re doing to gear up for the new year too.