At this time of year, we’re seeking hope and possibility, planning ahead, setting goals, making resolutions.
It’s tempting to set ourselves big, ambitious objectives, that take a lot of effort and fall short before we even reach Valentine’s Day!
I like this article in The Guardian, with 100 suggestions of small things we can all do to slightly improve our lives that don’t involve a lot of effort. All those small changes add up to big shifts in our mindset, mood and attitude to ourselves and others.
Feeling Lazy? No Problem, No Judgment
If you find the idea of ‘setting resolutions’ all a bit overwhelming or pressurised. Or perhaps you’re just jaded with all the talk of New Year, New You. These are little things you can try that don’t take much effort or thought.
Once you’ve done them for a couple of weeks, they quickly become a habit.
I also want to share my take on some of these and few other suggestions of my own.
Read it here:
A Few Favourites
Some of my favourites are
Plant spring bulbs, even if they’re just in a pot.
If you have even the smallest outside space and you can fit a plant pot in it, do it. The lovely thing about spring bulbs is you plant them in autumn/winter then they suddenly appear in the early spring bringing cheer and colour. Planting bulbs gives you something to look forward to. They represent hope. Even on the greyest morning, they’ll brighten your day every time you see them. It’s not too late in January for some bulbs. Even if you miss the chance to plant them for spring, plant some in the spring for the summer. You can pick up nets of bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocuses etc. cheaply in plenty of places. You can even plant things on top of them for instant impact, then get a colourful surprise a few weeks later as they poke their bright little heads up among your other greenery.
‘Keep a bird feeder by a window, ideally the kitchen. It’ll pass the time when you’re washing up.’
Watching birds from the window is one of life’s small pleasures. You can pick up feeders and bird seed easily and cheaply. You could even try making your own birdfeeder.
Here’s a blog on making a bird feeder with a pinecone. It’s meant for entertaining children, but if a child can make it, you certainly can! No special DIY skills or expensive tools required.
No garden, no problem, if you have a window, you can get feeders that stick to glass
10 Minutes Enjoyment A Day
Set aside 10 minutes a day to do something you really enjoy.
This is a crucial one. So often we put other people first. Entire days go by where we do nothing but work and chores. Just 10 minutes every day is enough to make a difference to our own mental wellbeing. Make the space, do it, stick to it.
It’s not an indulgence it’s a necessity.
Take a book to bed
If those 10 minutes are reading – I would add, take a book to bed instead of your phone.
Or, if you keep telling yourself you never have time to read, this is the solution.
Go to bed a few minutes earlier than you normally would and just read for a while until your eyes droop. It’s a great way to unwind and it’s surprising how fast you can get through the books on your shelves that you never get around to reading. Just 10 or 15 minutes a day, that’s enough to read a couple of chapters. (Depending on the length of the chapters and the speed you read). You’ll quickly get through at least a book a month.
It’s a low effort way to have more reading time in your life.
I’m a fan of a book light, much better to read by than the overhead light (plus you don’t have to get up to turn the light out) and sometimes bedside lamps aren’t in the right position or aren’t bright enough.
Always Carry A Book
‘Keep a book in your bag to avoid the temptation to doomscroll’
For those spaces in your day when you are hanging around, waiting for something, or needing a distraction, a book is the perfect solution. Instead of filling that time mindlessly scrolling through Social Media, getting depressed about the world or feeling insecure – read a book instead. It’s an instant escape and much better for your mental health!
If it’s not a book to read, you can carry a notebook and pen with you. You will always have something to keep you occupied. Whether you journal in the book, write lists, doodle, or brainstorm. It’s much healthier and potentially more productive.
Which brings me to my next addition to the list – Journaling
Journaling is a great way to empty your brain of all the guff clogging it up. You don’t have to follow any rules or do it every day. Writing regularly can be cathartic, unblock barriers to creativity, break negative or unhelpful thought loops, practice gratitude and capture moments, memories and ideas before they flitter away.
You can use it to write unintentionally, just your stream of consciousness in that moment, it’s surprising how good that can feel. It can also be pleasingly creative!
There are some gorgeous notebooks out there.
If you are feeling crafty, you can even have a go at making your own notebook.
Personally, I like an A4 plain page notebook.
I like a plain page because I can write freeform. For example, sometimes I like to write on landscape and sometimes portrait. I also like to draw flowcharts, sketch things, brain storm and stick ephemera in my ‘day book’. If you are a neat freak, a dot journal is a good option, so you can line up images and text. Or if you are all about words and like it to be clear and straight, lined pads are much easier to get hold of.
If you want to take journaling to the next level, I invite you to the rabbit hole that is ‘bullet journaling’!
What to change in 2022
Before you set yourself lots of big hairy goals for 2022, what small, simple, low effort changes can you make first?