Winter can be a tricky time to keep up the promises of New Year's resolutions! It's cold and dark... and who feels like dragging themselves to the gym in that weather! Who can resist that piece of pie, or choose a salad over pizza in that weather! Let's face it, it's a terrible time to be making resolutions! It's a time for pampering and spoiling oneself until it's over.
Now SPRING, on the other hand... Spring is the Perfect time for resolutions! There's all kinds of promise and excitement and motivation and inspiration! It's getting lighter and warmer, there are blossoms and baby animals... there's hope, and of course, Summer is coming into sight. This is the time to make all sorts of resolutions - and have an infinitely better chance of actually sticking to them! ;)
From determining to eat more healthily, to keeping your home clutter-free, to exercising - developing new habits and letting go of old ones is so much easier in the Spring. There's less resistance, and more hope - which means more motivation and inspiration!
Healthy Eating - Spring Resolution #1
Most of us have eating habits we'd like to improve on. The general idea is to eat more fruit and vegetables, choose a salad over a burger, an apple over a piece of pie - and doing that is much more difficult when it's cold and dark and miserable, and we're bundled up in layers of fabric.
As Spring begins - as the days get lighter and warmer, as the blossoms start popping out and the sun shines more brightly - it becomes much easier to get into the mind-set of eating healthier. Spring is more condusive to fruit and salad than winter is.
Being able to stick to new resolutions requires a new mind-set. It relies on a perspective. Every moment of human consciousness is a choice - we choose our actions, our inactions, our reactions. We choose how to look at things, and we choose what we turn our focus to. With the beginning of Spring, it's easier to choose to look at this moment as an opportunity for a brand new start. It's easier to choose to associate bright, warmer days with fresh fruit and salads.
It's still a choice of course - it's still tempting to order that pizza instead of the salad... but it helps to think of Spring as an association with health and new starts, than it is Winter.
Spring Healthy Eating Resolution Tips - Here are a few tips to help with the healthy eating Spring resolution.
- Start gently. On the first day of Spring, decide to make just one small change to your eating habits. Just the one. For example, you could decide that from the first day of Spring, you'll have one small piece of fruit each morning before eating anything else. Or, decide to drink a glass of water first thing, before your tea or coffee. Then add something either each day, or each week. And connect your progress with the progress of Spring towards Summer.
- Change the screen-saver on your computer or cell-phone to a juicy strawberry or peach - or whatever fruit or vegetable you find tasty.
- When you do your grocery shop, make sure you invest in healthy foods that you like - rather pay a bit more and buy a bag of grapes, if you like them, than getting apples because they're cheaper. Get creative with your fruit and vegetables.
- Prepare in advance. Chop and peel vegetables and fruit while watching TV. Of course, do be careful - don't be using a sharp knife without looking at what you're doing! ;) Perhaps do the chopping while the commercials are on. Then, put the prepared pieces in plastic containers, ready to use.
- Before tucking into potato chips, or other unhealthy snacks, stop for a moment, and think about Spring. Think about the option of eating something fresh and healthy - don't force yourself, just see if you can get that association, and change the desire for unhealthy snacks to the fresh new Spring option! ;)
You Are What You Eat Poster
Here's a fun poster you can put up in your kitchen to remind yourself, in a humorous way, to think twice before you choose what to eat in that moment. ;)
Surrounding yourself with pictures of delicious looking healthy food has a powerful effect on your ability to stick to healthy eating resolutions!
Exercise - Spring Resolution #2
Most of us struggle to get up early more when it's dark, than when it's light. Daylight has an energizing effect on us. The idea of getting up to go to the gym, or to go for a run, or even to just do a few exercises at home before getting ready for work, is much more appealing in daylight than it is in the dark.
As Spring starts, and the daylight appears earlier, it brings with it an automatic energy and mood lift - which makes it easier to persuade ourselves to make that extra effort to exercise. And as time goes on, and the days get longer, we're more likely to be more active later as well. Hitting the gym, or taking up a sport, after work isn't as unappealing in daylight as it is in the darkness of winter.
Spring Exercise Resolution Tips - A few tips to help jump-start your Exercise Spring Resolutions
- Leave home five minutes earlier, and park your car just a little further away each day of Spring, so that you walk just a little further each day.
- On the first day of Spring, decide to do just 5 crouches, and 5 push-ups (or crunches - or something similar. Make sure you don't strain your back). Just five of each. That's all. It'll take less than a minute. Then get on with your day. The second day of Spring, choose to do two sets of five. That's all. Then get on with your day. The third day of Spring, choose to do three sets of five.... and, well, you get the idea! ;) It takes very little time and effort, but you'll be amazed at the results! It's just a case of choosing to do it, and doing it. :)
- Think of an activity or sport you love. Something you've always wanted to do, or something you used to do - and decide to take it up again. Doing something you enjoy is much, much more effective than forcing yourself to exercise out of necessity.
- Make a playlist of your favorite "feel-good" energetic music, and either listen to it while you're walking, or while you're doing chores around the house. Music can be energizing, and if you listen to music that motivates you while doing physical activities, you'll find you do those activities with more energy and enthusiasm - which will increase the benefit of the physical exercise.
Easy Exercises: Simple Workout Routine for Busy People
Written with humor and in a warm and friendly tone, this book not only details a variety of effective exercise routines that can be done in 10 minutes a day, it also takes into account varying abilities from person to person, and explains exactly what exercise is, addressing the different reasons for exercise. It's a great solution for the issue of "not enough time for exercise" ;)
How about exploring something different? Finding a physical activity that interests you - and that you enjoy - gives you a much higher chance of success, naturally! ;)
Exercise doesn't have to be a chore - using a Wii - especially for something like a dancing challenge, makes being active fun - and you won't even see it as exercise... but before you know it, you'll find yourself fitter and healthier!
Martial arts can be a brilliant way to exercise because there's so much more to it than exercising. You have so much to focus on, and it's so interesting to the brain, that the toning of the body happens just as a bonus, while you're enjoying the challenge.
De-cluttering - Spring Resolution #3
Clutter can be a major challenge for many of us. And it can be overwhelming when there's so much of it that we don't know where to start. The trick is to break it down into ridiculously small tasks. Tasks that take no more than 15 minutes a day.
On the first day of Spring, decide to clear just one drawer, shelf or surface - just one. And decide to spend no more than 15 minutes on it. If you haven't finished that one shelf, surface or drawer by the end of 15 minutes, stop, and leave the rest until tomorrow.
Do this for each day of Spring. Just one shelf, drawer or surface. That's all. And just 15 minutes. Psychologically it'll be much easier to stick to this new practice if you know it's only 15 minutes.
Spring De-cluttering Resolution Tips - Tips for easy de-cluttering
- Set a kitchen timer for 15 minutes, so you know you get to stop when you hear it go off - and see how much you can get done before it rings! :)
- When in doubt about what to keep and what to get rid of, have four bags or boxes: Keep, Throw Away, Give Away and "Don't Know" - the "Don't Know" one is a major time-saver! If you really can't decide, instead of spending time deliberating - and possibly becoming despondent, just put it in the "Don't Know" bag for now. You can come back to that one later, once you've cleared everything else. :)
- If you're finding it difficult knowing where to start, decide to start with throwing away anything that needs to be thrown away - leaving everything else as it is. Sometimes this is a good motivator. Then, pick out only the things you're going to give away, leaving the rest. Next, pick out the things that belong in a specific room - you don't need to find a place for them yet, if you find that a challenge, just put them in the room in which they belong. This can help jump-start the process.
- One of your Spring Day 15 minute sessions, you could spend on the drawer or cupboard that contains plastic containers in the kitchen. Be ruthless. Get rid of any containers that don't have lids, and any lids that don't have containers.
The Step-by-Step Guide for Eliminating Clutter
This book comes highly recommended - it's a practical and fun guide to decluttering, written with warmth and humor. Little steps that are easy to follow, easy to put into practice... and most importantly, are effective, leading to a clutter-free life.
Peter Walsh is a brilliant guide for decluttering! He has an excellent ability to break down the overwhelming, to bite-size, easy chunks. :) He also has some fabulously innovative ideas and tools for taking the dread and pain out of decluttering!
A brilliant anti-dote to procrastination! A clear, sensible and practical way to declutter, Julie Morgenstern is reknowed for her positivity and upbeat presentation. A great motivator!
Family & Friends - Spring Resolution #4
Many of us find we're so busy with work and chores, and so tired when we're not busy with those, that we have very little time (if any) for those we love in our lives. And the worst thing about this is, we're generally unaware of it most of the time... sometimes until it's too late.
For this very important Spring Resolution, get yourself a beverage, sit down for a moment, and take a look at your calendar or diary. Take just a few minutes to find slots in your schedule, starting on the first day of Spring, for spending time with family and friends. And write them in. Block that time out.
Make a plan to spend at least just 15 minutes each day on people you love - even if it's just a phone call, a text or an email. Just 15 minutes a day. Of course, some days you'll spend more, but if you spend just 15 minutes a day on your loved ones, it all builds up, and you'll be surprised at what it can do for both you and those you love.
The benefits of spending time with people you love are much greater than we realize. It's not just about the moment, it's about the lasting effect. Time spent together builds and strengthens, not only the relationship, but each person as an individual - it has a knock-on effect on each person's health, quality of life, and results we would never dream of. Spending time with a someone you love increases "feel good" chemicals released by the brain, it helps to strengthen the immune system. Because of the effect on the way you feel, it makes a difference to choices you make, actions you take, the way you relate to others, and the amount of physical energy you have.
The value of spending time with loved ones reaches far, far beyond just the relationship you have with them. It's a high yielding investment! :)
Have a look at the tips below for ideas for spending time with your loved ones, even when you're busy and/ or tired.
Spring Friends and Family Time Resolution Tips
- The funny thing about making time.... Many of us seem to be racing the clock - with very little time to spare. Between work, chores and various other commitments, we're left with not enough sleep, and very little leisure time.
The first (and most important) step to solving the time issue is realizing that life is a constant process of prioritizing. In every moment we are automatically prioritizing. Right now, in this moment, I am prioritizing writing this over washing the dishes! ;) Once you become fully conscious of your moment-to-moment prioritizing, you gain much more control over your life. Yes, there are things that have to be done, but much of what we do, we do on automatic rather than by conscious in-the-moment choice.
I started this page yesterday, and it's part of a Squidoo quest - which ends this evening. I had planned to get most of it done yesterday, but while I was in the middle of it, I received a message from a friend saying that he and a couple of others were at a venue nearby, and were having a catch-up. Now, my default setting would mean I would automatically decline, knowing I needed to get this page done. However, I stopped for a moment and thought about what it would be like to be with my friends (I hadn't seen these particular friends for a few months), and I realized that I had today to complete this page - especially if I started early.... And so I prioritized the time with my friends, and I'm SO glad I did. We had a wonderful time, including a spontaneous dinner at someone's house with much laughter and fun. And here I am today, feeling happy and content and inspired... to complete this project! And I suspect I'll do a better job of this because of that boost of "feel good" :)
It really is worth taking a moment to think about what it'll feel like if you did something differently. :)
- Prioritize people who make you feel good. When you feel good speaking with, or even just sitting in silence with, someone - make sure you allocate time for that person in your life. It's worth it. Half an hour spent on the phone, or having coffee with that person is worth many hours of relaxing in front of the TV or scrolling through rants on Facebook ;) We tend to get into habits without realizing it, and sometimes it's a case of just deciding to do something different regardless of how comfortable sitting on the couch may be right now.
- When it feels too much of a hassle to meet up with that friend, or take your child to the playground, try changing your focus for a moment. Most of us coast through our days on automatic, but in fact every moment is choice - every moment is a choice of perspective and a choice of focus. So, a person sitting comfortably in front of the TV, feeling a bit tired, and unmotivated to do much else has a choice of focus: They can choose to focus on how comfortable it feels where they are, and what a hassle it would be to do something else.... Or... they can choose to think about what it'll feel like once they're there. Spending just a few moments thinking - day-dreaming - about how it'll feel to be there, tasting the coffee, or feeling the breeze, laughing with the loved-one, the look on the child's face, the smile and warm hug of the friend... this can completely change that person's perspective, and give them enough motivation to get up off that sofa. And the more you do this, the more inclined you become to spending time with friends and family than sticking with old habits. :)
This is an incredible resource! For quick, easy and fun ideas for family time - this is a great tool for increasing quality moments with the family when you have limited time and resources.
This is a fabulously fun way to spend quality time with friends and family - Table Topics cards feature interesting and engaging questions that inspire interesting and engaging conversation. Whether it's for a bit of fun over coffee with a friend, or a dinner party game, or just a surprise activity to share over supper with the family - these provide so many options and opportunities for time with loved ones!
The Ultimate Spring Resolution!
This is one that can be highly underestimated, but bear with me for a moment, and I'll explain why it's the Ultimate Resolution.....
It's a simple one - and it's easy - which is why it can underestimated, but if you give it a chance, it can affect everything else in your life! :)
Smile more, and laugh out loud at least once a day. Now, I know that doesn't sound like much, and it may even seem a bit "wafty" but there is a very valid, logical down-to-earth explanation of how this one small thing can impact every area of your life - and how it can help you succeed with any other Spring Resolutions you take on....
* When you smile, your brain releases "feel-good chemicals" - it does this even with a false smile! The action of simply turning up the corners of your mouth - whether you mean it or not - triggers the brain to release those chemicals. Laughter, of course, releases larger doses.
* The more you trigger this process, the more of those "feel-good" chemicals are in your system, and the longer they stay there.
* When you're feeling good, you make different decisions, different choices, take different action, relate to others differently, see different opportunities, and behave differently... to when you're not feeling good. You can see how this would impact all areas of your life. When you're feeling good, you're more likely to follow through with all the other resolutions you've made. It's easier to be in the mood for exercise when you're feeling good; it's easier to resist unhealthy habits when you're feeling good; it's easier to accomplish chores and meet deadlines when you're feeling good. And of course, the knock-on effect is: Because you behave differently when you feel good, the possibilities in dealing with others - from personal relationships to business deals - are infinite!
So, for this resolution, starting on the first day of Spring, turn up the corners of your mouth for no reason. Whether you feel like smiling or not (and in fact, especially when you don't feel like smiling! ;) ) Do it first thing in the morning, and then whenever you think of it throughout the day. And watch/ read/ listen to something that makes you laugh out loud at the beginning of your day. Then continue to do this each day of Spring... and you'll start to notice a build in the results as time goes on. :)
Tips for the Ultimate Spring Resolution - A few ideas for getting the most out of this one...
- Take just five or ten minutes first thing in the morning, to watch, read or listen to something that makes you laugh out loud. Of course, with YouTube and Facebook, there's an infinite choice of funny videos. Whether it's a clip by your favorite stand-up comedian, or out-takes and bloopers from TV programs, or an excerpt from your favorite sit-com... or home videos... there are endless opportunities online for laughing out loud. Or, you could listen to an excerpt each morning from a CD or mp3 of a comedy panel show or stand-up comedian. Or, read an excerpt from a funny book or article. Whatever it is, as long as it makes you laugh out loud... or at least chuckle gently! ;)
- Throughout your day, remind yourself of whatever it was that made you laugh that morning. And smile at the memory. This will give you an ongoing little boost of those feel-good chemicals during the day.
- When you're feeling less than good - when you feel stressed, or worried, or anxious, or frustrated, or despondent, or angry - turn the corners of your mouth up - it feels (REALLY) weird at first, but it's worth it, and the more you do it, the more "normal" it starts to feel. Think of it as stretching - like touching your toes, or stretching your arms - you're just stretching your mouth. Even when the smile is false, the brain automatically reacts as if it's real. And the more you do it, the greater the effect. Just try it, and see. :)
For more information on the research and studies on how smiling affects the body and brain, this book contains a wealth of information!
Read an excerpt from this book each morrning as your daily laugh-out-loud exercise!