6 February 2018

Simplifying doesn't need to be complicated

Another new year generally means a clean slate, a fresh start and for many a whole raft of potentially unrealistic goals to achieve and much loved indulgences to give up.

So why do we do it to ourselves? Why do we start each new year repeatedly with a long list of does and donts?

Im all for self-improvement, learning new skills and trying different things but the month of January is fast becoming the kill joy of all good parties. If youre one of the brave folks saddled up on the Dry Jan wagon (probably clinging onto the edges of it at this stage), I salute you but theres no way Id be riding it myself (I have small children!!!).

You wont find me sipping sparkling water and munching on a piece of kale following an hours spin class because Im finally realising I need to refocus on whats achievable, fun and realistic if theres any hope of me actually sticking to it and enjoying it along the way.

Yes, Ill try to reduce my booze intact during the week and nourish my body with more colourful foods, as opposed to beige kids left overs. I might even go for a run. But not because its January and Ive set myself a whole load of goals but because I need more energy to keep up with my kids and I love the feeling of freedom and peace that running brings me.

The desire to not worry about new years resolutions and generally ease off the gas on the mounting pressures in day-to-day life came about after I recently read two separate articles on female hair loss. I remember wrapping my fingers around my hair which used to be a fairly thick handful but was now a pretty pathetic whisp of chestnut. Both articles echoed the key contributors of hair loss in women nowadays as being stress, insomnia, low iron, poor diet and in general DOING TOO MUCH!.

Like a lot of you Im sure, I nodded at each one in turn, all of them most likely caused by the tole of motherhood and the escalating pressures we put on ourselves. Nowadays, children are involved in more activities, people seem to be working longer hours and we generally have busier schedules than in previous generations.
So how exactly do we reduce the feelings of stress and chaos caused by these clubs, socials and projects? After a lot of thought, discussions and research, Ive put together five quick wins to help with stress, simplify our days and hopefully achieve a healthier smile and glow.

1) Say No more!
Learning that its ok to say no now and again is critical to getting the balance right. I noticed last year that I hardly had time to sit down and watch TV in the evenings anymore. This was the only time I had to myself so I usually caught up on work, school projects, household bits etc. It all got a bit ridiculous. Our time is valuable so if youre able to reduce the number of requests from work, school and friends you will find some much needed down-time for yourself.

2) Swap resolutions for intentions
I know were already half way through January but one to remember for next year If you wish to set resolutions at the start of a new year, you may choose to swap these for intentions: a list of attainable things which are completely within your reach thus increasing your chances of success. No one likes disappointment, so why set yourself up to fail in the first place? This should instantly take some pressure off whilst still allowing you to focus on what it is youd like to accomplish. 

3) Focus that To-Do List
Take a leaf out of Holly Tuckers (founder of Not on the High Street & Holly & Co.) book. She recognises that people running small businesses (which in turn applies to mothers) have thousands of things whirling around in their heads that all need actioning which can have a knock on effect of stressing you out and making you completely unenthusiastic about doing anything.

The simple Very Important To-Do List asks you to choose three tasks only, thus not overwhelming you and instead focussing you to complete things youve been putting off. Holly writes hers before she goes to bed so shes ready and organised the following morning. Give them a try!

   4) Reduce the clutter
An untidy and cluttered living environment can overload the senses and create feelings of anxiety, guilt and defeat. A study by S.Carter, in Psychology Today, revealed a selection of reasons why mess causes so much unnecessary stress. These included distracting us away from what were trying to focus on, inhibiting creativity and productivity, and making it difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.

Luckily clutter is one stress factor that can be tackled. The Association of Professional Declutters & Organisers (APDO) encourage you not to give up when decluttering as itll look worse before it gets better. Decide what is unnecessary and try to be strict with yourself. If you havent used it for 18 months youre unlikely to use it again. I usually have three piles; bin / recycle it, charity shop it and sell it. Another fundamental tip the APDO share relates to digital decluttering. Allocating time slots for checking / deleting emails and using social media will help combat the constant demands mobiles now have on a persons attention and it will allow you to be more present and thus less distracted and stressed.

5) Positive relationships 
Surround yourself with people that make you smile and feel good about yourself. This is so key. Letting go of a relationship that is causing you anxiety and stress is never going to be easy but that doesnt mean you should continue out of habit or loyalty. Maintain those relationships that are supportive, happy and equal.

Be kind to yourself. No one can function in a normal sane way within todays hectic environment unless some form of simplifying takes place be it clutter, relationships, commitments or all three. 

Good luck if you try any of these tips and remember do the simple things that make you happy.

Written by Sarah @boxofsmilesgifts

Links & Sources:

Very Important To-Do List - Sticky Notes

Why Mess Causes Stress -
Sherrie Bourg Carter


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