We are on that point in the year where we are nudging towards December but still have a few months to go. It is the time where we become anxious and slightly depressed. Did we do enough? Should we not do a big push and achieve something to make this year count? Should we revisit our resolutions and see if there is still something we could salvage?
Yes, our resolutions; that big great plan we had to overhaul our lives. What happened to it? Except for that neat organizer filled with suggestions that leaves us feeling regretful and guilty every time we see it, they are probably all but forgotten by now.
Why is it so hard to hold onto new habits that could improve our quality of life? The answer is simple: because incorporating new habits in our life is hard. As they are new, they are not locked into our day-to-day lifestyle automatically. We’ve got to remember them, and act them out as if recalling a script. Also, often we want too much too soon: we read a book and we’re told about these amazing things we can do if we’d just change this, this, that and this in our life. Usually, instead of more time, we just end up filling our days with these new habits in addition to our usual daily chores and end up stressed and exhausted instead of calm and fulfilled.
If You Can’t Keep New Habits, You Might Be Pushing Too Hard
It doesn’t have to be like that. In my book 50 Things to Know to Have a Better Life, I explain how you can improve your lifestyle in a lasting way. No one has to go through a one day overhaul; in fact, in this book I am forbidding you to do too much at once! A new and better life is not something you achieve in one day. It takes soft, slow nudges – not brutal force. It should be blissful, not stressful. Here are some tips.
What is it that blocks you?
What is it that always stops you from making the changes that you want to make? Or what makes you start and then give up? Is the problem inside you? Is the problem the environment you are in?
If you can’t find the problem when you think about it, just do a dummy run: start a new pattern you want in your life and write down everything that happens. If you’re lucky, this might be the one that sticks. If you fail, find the algorithm in your notes that sets you up to fail. Once you find that, find the way to eliminate it from your life or mindset.
Don’t restrict yourself but treat yourself
For example: the worst thing you can do is think about all the things you won’t get to eat when you start dieting, or the time it will take you to exercise/write a book or do a study.
Instead, you should keep it fun: search the internet for yummy healthy meals. Things that are good for you aren’t always nasty, even though a lot of TV shows say so.
Keep it small
A person that tries taking on too much at one time becomes overwhelmed. Your goals are supposed to make you feel good, not stressed.
Make sure that your goal fits your life as it is. Completely turning your life around in a day isn’t realistic: it takes at-least 66 days to build a new habit into your life.
Take more breaks
Sitting behind a computer all day is bound to drain your brain from creativity and leave you feeling fuzzy and snoozy after a few hours. It is essential to take what is known as “microbreaks” during your work day. Take your eyes away from the screen and do a few little things like going outside for some air, taking a moment to daydream, etc. These moments will stop you from burning yourself out during the day and will leave you feeling more refreshed in the late afternoon/early evening.
Most people need a 5 to 10 minute break every 45 minutes and a 20 minute break away from the screen in the middle of the day.
While you are at it, give your eyes a break too: blink and look away from your computer every 20 minutes and then gaze at a distant object for at least 20 seconds. Follow this by rolling your eyes left to right, up and down.
Short burst mindfulness
Most people don’t have time to do long moments of mindfulness and don’t know that you really don’t need to be mindful for hours a day to profit from the benefits. Taking a few minutes during the day can also bring you a clear mind and a happy feeling.
- Take a minute during every break to be still and clear your mind. Just sit, eyes closed and empty your mind.
- You can also eat a snack and focus on its taste and nothing else.
- Make your walk mindful by focusing on your environment and your walking.
- Even just taking the time it takes your computer to start up to focus on nothing will help.
You will feel doubly refreshed.
Bonus: Still too busy? Find your happy relax moment on the go
If you still think that you don’t have time for a break maybe you could try this one: is there an activity that you do every day that you could turn into your “relax” moment?
- A short meditation instead of a panicked “what do I have to do?” when you wake up for example.
- Maybe you could use walking the dog as your mindful walk.
- Meditate on the bus, do your breathing exercises on the bike, listen to brain meditations and binaural beats as you write on your computer (use a headphone in the office!)
- Don’t do meditations or mindfulness in the car, though, that’s dangerous(!). Listening to motivational songs and affirmations is okay.
- You can even do a brief power meditation as you start up your computer/laptop/tablet.
You are never to busy to try and relax or improve your lifestyle!