At the beginning of this year I decided to make some changes, these weren't new year resolutions but small changes I wanted to make in order to improve every day life. I'm not sure if it's living through three lockdowns and a worldwide pandemic or a classic case of getting older, but either way I came to realise that somewhere along this dusty road called life, I started prioritising all of the wrong things.
THE POWER OF WORDS
The first thing was reading. I've always loved reading, it's something I've done from a very young age. I love all literature [apart from sci-fi!] anything from Jane Austen to JK Rowling and everything in between. One day over the Christmas period I calculated that I hadn't read a book for nearly three years! I'm not sure if this was because of children, work or my personal life but when I realised this, I felt incredibly disappointed in myself. From that moment I made a promise to read every day, even if it's just a page or a chapter of a book. I want to start learning again and transporting myself into other worlds. So far I've stuck to this, i'm now about to finish my third book of 2021 and I'm loving it. Everything has a knock on effect too; in reading more I'm creating more time for myself, meaning that I'm less stressed and more productive. I've also made sure that for every two fiction books I read, I then read a business or self-help book - something that will help me in my professional life. I'm loving it so much that Tash, our photographer, recommended a monthly book subscription service that I have signed up to. My friend Annaliese has also signed up and we're going to start a little monthly book club. Nothing serious but something that's not work or life related!
TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL MEDIA
I work in public relations & communications and Beaver & Mole is very much an online business, but this doesn't mean that I enjoy being online all of the time. I started to notice that I would reach for my phone at every opportunity; when I'm watching TV, cooking dinner or even when I'm in the bath. Don't get me wrong I don't hate my phone, I love WhatsApp and Instagram as much as the next person, but I use my phone as a distraction - something to help me procrastinate or kill time. So that's why three weeks ago I made a decision to take a break from my phone every weekend. On Saturday January 30th at 3pm, I turned my phone off for 24 hours and I haven't looked back since. I haven't missed those hours with it off, I don't even think about it. I just get on with enjoying life, doing jobs and spending quality, undistracted, time with myself and my family. I don't think I'll ever go back on this newly formed habit, it's something I encourage everyone to try if they can. You'll be amazed at what you don't miss and what you achieve. Some weeks, due to work, it's not a whole 24 hours but even if I only make 20, it's enough to give me a break and free my mind.
MY TYPE OF MINDFULLNESS
Which leads me to mindfulness and health. My friends know that I'm not exactly one for sitting in silence and meditating, it's just not me. But I still understand the need to empty your mind sometimes. After one rather stressful homeschooling day In January I told my partner that I was going for a walk. I put a podcast on and walked around the village for 30 minutes. When I came back I felt amazing, less stressed and more energised. So, along with my morning exercise routine, I've started to factor in a 30-60 minute walk every day, some days listening to a podcast and some days with just my own thoughts. I aim to continue this once we're out of lockdown too, even if it means cutting back on my weekly gym sessions. Fitting in a walk will forever be a priority for me from now on, it's my own form of mindfulness.
I haven't gone crazy but I hope that these little changes will all lead to greater things. In creating these new habits I've found that as well as being more motivated and productive I'm also happier. I suppose looking at it now, all of these new habits are linked. Reading more means I'm not using my phone as much, as does walking, and they are all good for my mental health. They allow me to focus on me, something we talk a lot about at Beaver & Mole!
If you would like to start making small changes to your life, I suggest reading the James Clear book 'Atomic Habits'. Not only does he have a great understanding of habits but he also has a great way of showing you how to introduce new habits, break bad habits and achieve your goals.