This is the time of year when, traditionally, we spring clean our homes, but if you are feeling stuck in a rut, tired, stressed or anxious, it can be a great idea to spring clean your life!
Here are a few ideas of how to freshen up your living space AND your head :-).
One: Declutter your space
We tend to gather a lot of stuff at home that we don’t use or need. It fills up the spaces and if it gets too much it starts to affect how we feel. A thorough sort out and throw out can be very therapeutic. You can donate extra stuff to charity, sell it online, have a car boot sale or take things to the tip. You'll be surprised by how much better it feels to have tidier, clearer surroundings.
Two: Clear out your wardrobe
How many clothes have you got in there that you don’t wear? Be honest! Take a deep breath and let them go. You’ll feel better for it. And while you’re at it, if you have a home office, have a go through all the paperwork that’s lying around in piles everywhere (we all do it!), keep only what you need, shred the rest and bask in the clean, tidy space that emerges! You'll then be able to find what you want when you're looking and only have things around you that make you feel good or that serve a purpose, and this will really life your mental energy.
Three: Spring clean your diet
If you’ve found yourself over the winter you’re saying yes to more and more things you know you shouldn’t, it’s time for a rethink. We can all get a little uninspired when it comes to eating healthily. Try experimenting with new recipes. Look online for inspiration, there are tons of great recipes on the internet that will help you to enjoy all that fruit and veg you know you should be eating! And eating more healthily will give you more energy and make you feel more positive.
Four: Let go of toxic people
People who make you feel bad about yourself are not friends. You may have known them a long time, but if they always bring you down, don’t waste any more time or energy on them. This includes friends, work colleagues, even family and close relationships, if they don’t support you or make you feel good around them. This can be difficult to do, but you will soon notice how much better it feels to have supportive people around you and you'll realise how the negative people adversely affected your mood.
Five: Make some "me" time
We all need some time just for us. Maybe just a bubble bath or an exercise class will be enough to perk you up. If you feel in need of something more, yoga, meditation and mindfulness are all great ways to relax. Meditation can help you focus on positivity and calmness, yoga keeps you flexible in body and mind, and relieves stress and anxiety. Find something that works for you and build time into your week for it.
Six: Unplug yourself
We all spend too much time plugged in to social media, computer games, internet browsing, and so on. It's easy and right there at our fingertips. But it can also make us lazy and have us stuck to the couch! Try taking some time out from all that and get outside, meet up with friends in the real world, or just take a walk in the fresh air. All these things can really lift your mood and improve your health.
Seven: Enjoy a little peace and quiet
The modern world is full of noise. With iPods, laptops, smart phones, TVs, we can always be plugged in and listening to something. And this can be worthwhile, educational and fun. But sometimes it’s good to just switch it all off and enjoy the silence. You’ll probably surprise yourself with how much you like it.
Try these ideas out and see how much better you feel! And if you are still feeling stressed or anxious, consider trying hypnotherapy to help you relax, unwind and let go of that clutter in your head.
If you’re anything like me, and a lot of the people I know, you probably like to be helpful and willing, and to say ‘Yes’ when you are asked to do something, either at home or at work. And this is generally a good trait, and helps to make the world go round.
Sometimes this habit of always saying ‘Yes’ can do more harm than good. You can end up over-committed, working late, running around trying to squeeze in everything you said you would do and not let anyone down. Ending up stressed, tired out, frustrated and neglecting the things that you want, in an effort to do what everyone else wants.
So maybe it’s time to learn how to say ‘No’…?
I’m learning to say ‘No’ when I think that I really can’t fit in that extra thing; when I feel maybe someone is expecting too much of me or taking me for granted; or when I feel that something just wouldn’t be a good idea for me. It’s not easy at first. It’s a hard habit to break and I have sometimes felt guilty, or worried that someone will be offended or upset, particularly when it comes to family.
But it gets easier and it is so liberating. Time and energy are limited and precious resources. There is only so much to go around and you can make yourself ill trying to stretch things too far. Choosing what’s best for you, choosing what you can cope with and saying ‘No’ to anything beyond that will ease your stress, free up your time and ultimately be a much healthier choice for you.
Saying "No" at Work
Saying ‘No’ to every request, and putting limits on your availability, can also bring dividends in the workplace. Focusing on a few key tasks and prioritizing these will make you more productive and effective. If you are prone to answering work emails late at night and at weekends, try setting yourself a cut-off point each day, after which you don’t look at your emails until the next day. This can be difficult to do, as you may feel that you will be thought less of at work, but in fact if you asked you would probably find that your employer is not actually expecting you to reply at 10.00 pm!
Talk to your boss and get clarification on what hours you are expected to work and whether there is an expectation that you make yourself available in the evening and at weekends. Being too available and passive could lead to you being viewed as a doormat. But be careful not to be overly aggressive in your response. Assert yourself in a positive, open and helpful way, and offer clarity over when you will have a task completed. If you are faced with conflicting priorities, offer up your ideas for which tasks are more important and which can be delegated or done later.
Read on for a few tips on how to approach saying ‘No’ more often:
A Simple "No" is Enough
Be direct, brief and clear. Look them in the eye, say your ‘no’ in a clear and unwavering way, then break off eye contact so they know that’s it. There is no need to justify yourself or over-explain, just keep it simple. Too much explaining will make you look defensive or open to persuasion.
Be Clear on What You Can and Can't Do
Ask questions to be sure you understand what is being asked of you, before you give your response. This will show that you are not being arbitrary in your decision, or unwilling to help, but just that you cannot always drop everything you have already agreed to do for a new request.
Give a Reason
Giving a reason increases the chances of someone accepting your ‘No’. However, giving a whole list of reasons begins to look like excuses and undermines your stance.
Rinse and Repeat
You will probably have to say ‘No’ more than once before it is accepted. Don’t get drawn into complicated explanations or discussions, though. Stick to your original, concise reason and refusal and it will be accepted. It might take up to three times, but by then it will be clear you mean what you say.
So there you have it. Whether you are talking about family, social obligations, work demands, or whatever, you won’t do yourself any favours by being too willing and too available all the time, but are more likely to be taken for granted and simply increase expectations that you will fall into line. So, gently but firmly, follow the advice above to show that you have boundaries and will stick to them. Say ‘No’ when you feel it is in your own best interests and you are happy with your decision, and people will respect you more for it.
Take care of yourself.
My name is Tina Taylor and I run Life Hypnotherapy 1-2-1, a hypnotherapy practice in Hull.