As we transition into a new season, we often feel compelled to overhaul our lives for the better. It’s not rare to hear taglines thrown around like “new year, new you,” “spring detox,” “autumn reset,” or similar phrases that insinuate tossing out the negative in your life and filling the void with healthier alternatives (whether that be people, places, things, or all of the above).
When we consider making life changes, it’s easy to assume that this must mean taking drastic measures. These are the ones we typically see suggested in magazines and by friends, on blogs and on television–intense workouts to “slim down for summer,” restrictive diets that will “cleanse the toxins out,” even rigid meditative, or creative routines that will “help you become your best self.”
Contrary to much of what we see out there, I’m under the impression that it’s much healthier to be gentle and compassionate towards oneself in order to reach or maintain a state of balance, calm, and rejuvenation. Are you really going to achieve that perfect state of mind and body nirvana if you’re stressing about the lack of greens in your diet, sleep that you aren’t getting, or the to-do items that you have yet to check off your list?
This is not to say that any of the formerly mentioned are bad in any way–but what is bad is having such a black and white mindset about what a “reset” truly entails or adopting a perfectionistic approach to embarking upon one.
This is why I have compiled the following suggestions to give your life a little boost as we come into this new season. These are measures you can take to live better, engage in healthier relationships, be good to your body, etc. without the pressures that normally accompany such tasks.
So I encourage you to be mindful that these are simply suggestions that may help you, and if you slip up, you are not in the wrong.
1. Aim to get to bed before midnight (or better yet, before 11). Obviously, this is not always possible or realistic, but again: this list is not a compilation of rules, simply suggestions. Sleeping before midnight is ideal for your internal body clock, and if you aim for around eight hours from this point on, you will still be rising not too late after the sun.
2. Wake up and read rather than checking your phone. Trust me when I tell you I know how tempting it is to jump on Facebook first thing (as I frequently catch myself doing). But the feeling of waking up and sitting on the porch with a book is so much nicer. It allows my brain and my eyes some time to adjust to the new day without overwhelming sensory stimulation right off the bat.
3. Avoid animal products if you don’t already. The obvious reason is that plant-based foods digest more quickly than animal-based, and quick/easy digestion means a healthy gut, less bloating, and lower risk of disease. On top of that, the guilt minimized by eating fewer animals will surely benefit you emotionally and psychologically.
4. Take time to sit while you eat. Don’t distract yourself, or if you do, at least do so with something other than technology (perhaps a crossword puzzle or a magazine or a conversation with a friend). Even if it’s just for one meal a day, try to set the time aside to be a bit more present with your meals. Not only can we scarf down way more than we want or eat emotionally when we’re not paying attention–we also miss out on the textures and flavors and eating experience that’s occurring as we zone out on something else.
5. Take deep breaths and deep inhales. Allow yourself to feel your feelings and engage with your senses. Drinking a cup of coffee? Savor the aroma and take a moment (even just a second) to reflect on it. What associations do you have with the smell? What do these mean? Let your mind run and go with it. Allow memories to come back and new ones to be made, all based on your presence in that moment.
6. Write down your stream of consciousness thoughts, no matter how embarrassing or absurd. If they are inspiring to you in any way, all the more reason to jot them down. If they are troubling, it’s a good way to get them out of your mental space and perhaps figure out a course of action to tackle them. We often don’t even recognize what we’re thinking or feeling until we try to convey it.
7. Call someone on the phone (and ask them about themselves). Now I know this is not easy or possible or appealing to everyone. But, if you can, I recommend a verbal phone call with a close friend or relative on a regular basis. Even better if you can connect with them in person, but calls are sometimes the more convenient option. It’s good for you to foster your sense of connection with others, and also to hone your skills as a considerate friend (chances are the person you call will reciprocate with questions that allow you to open up about your own life–but even if they don’t, the practice of regular phone calls may prove beneficial).
8. Incorporate nature into your life and your life into nature. Go on barefoot walks in your yard, feeling the earth underneath your feet. Bring more plants into your home. Pick your own produce; plant your own flowers. Walk or cycle rather than driving when you can; sit outside to work or read or eat or even check your phone rather than holing up in an enclosed space.
9. Stop comparing yourself to others. Every person is on a unique journey–to put two side by side is pointless because each is too different to compare. People have different goals, experiences, needs, and abilities. The sooner we realize and accept this, the happier we will be. But it also helps to focus on the qualities that we do enjoy and appreciate. That may mean quitting social media or dropping your catty friends or starting to pinpoint what you enjoy about yourself. It’s nice to admire others, but not when it gets to the point where you believe you pale in comparison.
What go-to’s should I add to my reset guide? If you have any suggestions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments!
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