So apparently statistically most people will have given up their New Years Resolutions by now, however we do get another 'official' chance to start over as we are now in Lent, a period of time where people traditionally choose to give up something. Now I'm not really a religious person, but I'd say you don't really need to be to have a crack at cutting down on something. This year however, I plan to do things slightly differently.
Recently I've not been sleeping so well, and I've found that since I've started running more regularly my body is no longer happy to just slob out of an evening. I feel like I can't just relax and enjoy watching tv for a few hours - my legs get jumpy, my mind starts wandering and I just can't focus. I think perhaps that my body & mind actually like me being active and are rebelling at me falling back into bad habits, whilst I was staying in London last week I even re-organised my sister's fridge and freezer just for something to do! I started getting that twitchy feeling again a few nights ago and out of boredom and annoyance I thought I'd try and make a few changes to my usual routine to see if it would help. I haven't been so well the past two days so a run was out of the question (I felt that my body needed rest) but I compromised and instead chose to spend my evening practicing some yoga, and then watching Netflix in the bath. I managed to sleep soundly that night and woke up earlier, feeling much more refreshed. Last night I tried the same thing - an evening 'wind down' of about an hour's calligraphy practice (my new hobby!) and then half an hour of yoga before reading in bed. Again, I drifted off easily and slept soundly till morning, waking up a lot earlier and a lot easier than I have been in recent weeks.
It doesn't sound like much but making these small, simple changes have made such a difference to my mood and energy levels this week! I thought I had my bedtime routine down - I stop watching TV at a certain time and put my phone away. However I just suddenly found myself being unable to drift off - and it's when you're lying in bed that all those horrible anxious thoughts start to play on your mind. Oh remember that conversation you had seven years ago....? Remember that presentation you did at school..?
I also think it's important to tire your body out to get it ready for sleep - I have a desk job and so I am totally sedentary during the day. I have taken up running recently but even running for an hour makes up just 4% of your day, which is nowhere near enough physical activity. Being sat at a desk also really affects my back, and I have been particularly conscious this week of the way that I sit at my desk. I've been really struggling with a sore back so I think stretching it out every evening with half an hour of yoga is incredibly beneficial. I'm even considering packing my yoga mat and trying to fit in an extra half hour at lunch to help give myself a shake out midday & give myself a break!
So I mentioned before that I wanted to do things differently. Whilst most people talk about giving up bad habits for Lent, this year I am going focus on introducing new good ones, and I am hoping that by focusing on the additional tasks it will distract me from what I feel I'll be missing out on. Rather than being slumped on the sofa thinking about my sugar cravings I'll instead be concentrating on my yogic breathing, my calligraphy form or my pace whilst I'm running - and hopefully keeping these up for the next 40 or so days means that they will become firmly established within my daily routine.
My main New Years Resolutions this year were all related to losing weight, getting fitter & leading a much healthier lifestyle - both physically and mentally, and I think taking these small steps will definitely help me towards my eventual goal. After just three days I already feel like I'm in a much more positive mind frame and rather than getting caught up in the end goal (which just makes you feel like a failure) I am definitely being more mindful and learning to just enjoy the journey.
For now I am just going to take it one day at a time, and as long as I fit in my yoga and calligraphy practice each night I'm not going to get caught up over whether I had a bit of chocolate after dinner. I think if I do even just these two little things consistently it will make the world of difference - after all consistency is key. And once it becomes part of your routine to not just immediately sink into the sofa then think of all the extra time on my hands I'll have - time to exercise, catch up with friends, walk my dog for longer, read, knit, practice calligraphy. I think i'm going to get a hell of a lot more done over the next few weeks. Watch this space!