The Time of New Beginnings

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I’ve never been much of a one for doing New Years ‘resolutions’. I have so far steered clear of this tradition, preferring to set myself goals now, rather than waiting until the 1st January to start my diet and exercise plan. But I thought it high time to give it a try. Who knows, perhaps it will work for me? I have to say that so far, so bad. The holiday season is still upon us, and holiday treats are at large in our household. Christmas chocolates, creamy cheeses, biscuits and all sorts of other naughty things are filling the cupboard shelves. Each time I reach into the fridge to grab a mango or a nectarine, some festive foe will gaze hopefully at me. It takes an obscene amount of willpower to turn down such a pretty face. And mine is slowly fading.

It probably wasn’t such a great idea to give myself such free reign in December, allowing myself to pretty much do whatever I wanted. Because in the New Year I would begin my brutal regime. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. Anyway, I thought I’d share with you some of my once-hopeful resolutions. Please tell me I’m not the only one. I would love to hear some of yours!

1. Of course, I had to put in the cliched ‘eat clean’ resolution. I vowed to eat only fresh, healthy and colourful foods (especially focusing on fruit and vegetables in season).

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2. Exercise daily. Hah, what a joke! Daily exercise is almost laughable in this heat. Do you know how hot it is here today? 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degree Fahrenheit) at the moment. And very high humidity to top it off. Urghhh! I’m not a fan of the heat, but I don’t think anyone would be game to go out and exercise in that! 

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3. Get at least 9 hours sleep every night. Now, this one has been a little easier since I’ve been so exhausted recently. I think it might be the heat. But I definitely don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. I probably average around 7 hours currently. And I’m constantly tired. Bring on the early nights, I say!

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4. Read more, watch less. I have to say, I’m not a great reader. Well, okay maybe I am compared to some people but I really don’t take the time to read a lot. It usually takes me months to finish a book, simply because I don’t really read it. The number of books I have picked up and not finished reading is shameful. I have this huge list of books I have to read, so hopefully I can un-stick my eyes from the screen and glue them back onto the pages of a book!

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5. Be more positive. I have actually already started this one, and so far it has worked wonders. The number of things I complain about is really disgraceful. Now, whenever I feel myself starting to complain about something, I think about all the people in the world who have nothing. When I moan about my job, I think about those who don’t have one (or who earn a measly $1 a day for hard labour). When I complain about my family I think about all those people who have no family. And so on, you get the gist. And although it doesn’t always work, for the times it does it makes a huge difference.

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These are the main ones, and the ones I will be focusing the most on. Hopefully I can slowly build my inner strength and make these resolutions a natural part of my life. Perhaps that seems a little too optimistic, but I’m trying to stick to the last point here. See, I’m doing it!

A x

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Coping with Stress

Finding yourself diving into a fit of rage because you got served a cold cup of burned coffee? Laughing, crying and feeling generally disorientated? Forgetting everything and finding normal conversations difficult? Stress.

Coming out the other side of 12 years of schooling may not have taught me much about actual academic content, but it has taught me how to deal with stress. Assignment after exam after bad grade after part-time work doesn’t come without a significant amount of anxiety. So I’ve had to develop some strategies to cope with changes in my environment. Although these tips may not completely relieve stress and anxiety, they will help to prevent it and remove some of the physical signs.

1. Identify the stress – this may seem like a pretty obvious step, but sometimes it helps to just sit down and think about why you’re stressing. Identifying the cause of your stress may help you to tackle it at its source. It does seem strange, but sometimes there are so many different elements which combine to cause your high stress levels that you may not even be aware of some of them. Make a mental (or even physical) list of all the areas of your life which are causing you stress and take a minute to really deconstruct them. Is there really a logical need for you to stress? Are you making too much of a small situation, when the real issues lie somewhere else?

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2. Sleep! I cannot even begin to stress (pun intended) the importance of sleep in stress relief. A good nights sleep will work absolute wonders for your stress levels. I am a big time offender in this area and am ashamed to say that even as I write this post I am missing out on some much needed shut-eye. And tomorrow I will wake up stressed. It’s just this big cycle of stress and exhaustion. Don’t do it to yourself! If you’re reading this now and know you should really be getting some sleep, turn off your device (be it laptop, phone, iPad, etc.) and SLEEP NOW! You’ll thank me later!

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3. Be positive. Now, this one can be tricky. Extremely tricky. Sometimes near darned impossible. But boy does it make a big difference. Even if it’s just one day a week. For one day you are not allowed to utter one single negative phrase. Sound easy? You just try it. You begin to realise how negative you can be when you start consciously trying to be positive. Try to work some positive moments into your day, and your stress levels will begin to ease. Even if it’s just taking five minutes to sip a warm cup of tea and think about all the positive aspects of your life. No matter how hideous your life is, there is always SOMETHING positive to think about. Don’t spend time dwelling on the negative, smile!

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4. Meditate and breathe. I tried meditating for five minutes every morning when I woke up before getting ready for school for one week. You would not believe the difference it made. All I did was sit up straight in my bed, set a timer for five minutes, close my eyes and breathe deeply. Five minutes really is a long time. Meditating in this way helps you to appreciate every moment. And it allows your mind time to relax before you race off through your day. Trust me, just try it!

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5. Exercise. This one can be impractical for some, but it really does help with stress. I mean, I was going to school five times a week, doing assignments, and working on weekends and I still managed to fit in some gym time. I’m not trying to boast or anything, I’m merely saying that it can be done. You just have to prioritize. Believe it or not, I went to the gym instead of studying for exams and I did better because of it. Now, I’m not by any means saying you shouldn’t study for exams! That’s just ludicrous. But what I am saying is that sometimes it’s best to just trust yourself a little bit. After all, your brain’s pretty complex! You just have to trust it. I always used to study, study, study until my brain hurt. And I ended up getting the same result when I studied for a while, but then trusted that my brain could handle it and headed off to the gym. Just go for a quick jog around your block or jump on a bike. Sweat and puff as much as possible, the more the better!

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These are just some of the ways I have found work best for me when dealing with high stress levels. Some steps require time and energy that frankly you may not even consider spending. But please, give one of these tips a try if you’re finding yourself pulling out your own hair when you realise you’ve left your phone at home. I’ve been there!

Hope this helps,

A x