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Spring Clean Your Life!

15/10/2009

Give Your Mind And Soul A Spring Detox! (Spring Clean Your Life!)

Spring officially starts in late March each year and at time you might be ready to freshen up your life after the grey winter months.

 

But you can use this advice anytime!

 

Spring is a time of growth and change where our natural body bio-rhythms are ready for new challenges. Most people find their energy returning with the better weather making this the perfect time to put that extra energy to good use. Once you’re feeling mentally refreshed and emotionally up-lifted you’ll undoubtedly experience positive benefits for your overall health.

 

Here are five critical areas for you to start your spring-detox with today.

 

Switch your brain-power back on!

Brain research shows you need to challenge your brain from time-to-time to keep it in tip-top condition and prevent future problems like Alzheimer's. What better time than now, when you've been hibernating over the winter, to kick-start it? Here are lots of everyday strategies to challenge your brain:

ü  Stop being lazy with things like phone numbers. Instead memorise them before you put them into your mobile. Resist grabbing that calculator to do simple sums and do mental math instead.

ü  Your daily routine should include doing a puzzle. Take "five" to do either a crossword or Suduko-type puzzle.

ü  Meditate to classical music. Studies show that classical music, particularly Mozart, stimulates the brain.

ü  Follow a recipe rather than buying prepared dishes. Not only is this more healthy but it forces you to multi-task.

ü  Going abroad this summer? Learn useful phrases in the language of a country you’re visiting. All you need is a basic phrase book, you don't have to invest in expensive tape programmes. Learning a new language stimulates new brain areas.

ü  Your brain gets refreshed during a good night’s sleep so follow these basics sleep tips. Don't drink caffeine after 3pm; don't drink more then 2 units of alcohol at night; establish a calming night time regime including a warm bath with relaxing lavender oil; don't use your PC or watch violent television within 90 minutes of your bedtime.

ü  Over the long term set yourself a monthly challenge to stimulate your brain - learning a new skill is particularly good. Make it something fun like ballroom dancing where you have to pay attention to dance steps.


How to be happy!

Psychological research shows that even small changes in our daily life can lift us out of a dull routine and increase our levels of happiness.

Boost your happiness-quotient with these little psychological strategies now that spring’s upon us:

v  Start with small steps including taking a new route to work and enjoying the fresh landscape. Try a new cafe at lunchtime or prepare yourself a new sandwich to bring into work with ingredients you’ve never tried.

v  Ask that colleague you've been meaning to get to know better for a coffee or drink after work.

v  Laughter boosts endorphins, the feel-good chemical in our brains, so enjoy regular comedy nights or watch regular comedy programmes.

v  Choose a photo of a happy memory and put by your PC, fridge door, or desk drawer to remind yourself of happy times.

v  Reconnect with an old friend. Research shows those that maintain friendships have greater happiness.

v  Freshen up your look with a new hairstyle or visit the make-up counter at any major department store for free make-up tips. Trying a new eye-shadow or lipstick colour lifts your mood.

v  Change your attitude and become a "cup-half-full" rather than a "cup-half-empty" person. Start by saying Yes to things that break your routine. People that say Yes to spontaneous invitations are happier than those who fear breaking their routine.

v  When watching a music programme or listening to music on your I-pod get up and dance!

v  Each day say a private "thank you" for the things you're blessed with.

 

Stop procrastinating and start doing!

Things have been on hold over winter. Stop procrastinating and do the things you've been putting off. Answer this question honestly: What do you daydream about when sitting at work, staring out of the window? Moving up the ladder at work or getting a new job? Maybe you dream of getting physically fit? Or how about travelling somewhere exotic? Now's the time to stop daydreaming and start doing!

  • Take the three top things you dream of and start with the one that's the most realistic. Discard the complete fantasy daydreams (e.g. that you marry Brad Pitt having stolen him off of Angelina Jolie).
  • Delineate the actual goal, e.g., that you want to move up the ladder in your place of work.
  • “Think in ink” by putting pen to paper to clarify how you reach this goal. For example, do you need to get more job-skills training before you apply for promotion? Write down what skills, etc., you’d need.
  • Would such skills training be offered in-house at your place of work or do you need to look for local adult education class? Make a list of the steps you need to take and mark a step-per-day in your diary to achieve the master goal.
  • In this example, on Day One research in-house training with your supervisor. If the right training isn't offered ask for their guidance on what skills you need to develop. On Day Two ring around local adult education classes to checkout prices and times. On Day Three narrow the list to the most convenient and affordable. On Day Four enrol for skills training, and so on, until you're well on track towards your goal.

 

Clear the clutter and clear your mind!

There’s psychological evidence that a spring-clean makes you feel better.

Not that you have to buy into the whole feng-shui movement that was popular a few years ago! But it's true that a cluttered home or office will clutter your mind. There are many things you can do to get organised and spring-clean your home/office:

¨      First off, don't expect to do it all at once because at a psychological level if you get overwhelmed and fatigued you’re likely to give up the whole project. Instead allocate 3-4 hours per week over the next six weeks. Put these in your diary now.

¨      Start with one room at a time and stick to some basic rules. For example, when it comes to clothes, if you haven't worn something for three years give it to charity. If it's a special item that was, e.g., expensive, wrap and store in a clearly marked box/container.

¨      next organise your close through a colour code system. Starting at one end of your wardrobe hang dark items, moving through other colours towards the other end of the wardrobe. Streamlining your wardrobe will make getting ready much quicker.

¨      When you reach the kitchen, if you haven't used an item for 3-4 years

      it's a good rule-of-thumb to give it away. If, e.g., that bread maker or

      electric carving knife has sat untouched for five years you’re unlikely to

      use them now.

¨      Memory research shows that the more clutter in the home the more likely you are to lose things like house keys and mobile phones. Designate one container where you place house keys/mobile phone when you return home each evening. Ensure it's out of reach from your post-box as thieves have been known to use fishing rods to retrieve people's house keys.

¨      Use clear plastic storage containers so you can easily see what's been put away.

¨      Develop a simple filing system for, e.g., household bills and guarantees for purchases. The more straight forward the better. Before you get started decide how your file system will work. For example, do you intend to file alphabetically or in groups, e.g. utilities, guarantees, etc. Stick with your system!

¨      Simple things like keeping a note pad/pen always by your phone (that's never removed!), emergency phone numbers where everyone can find them, and a family note-board where you leave messages for each other, etc., really pay off.

 

Recharge your relationship!

You’re ready now to tackle your most important relationship and break bad relationship habits for a fresh start. Couples research shows that relationships need to be shaken-up from time to time to prevent them from getting stale. It also shows that couples that are prepared to try new ways of relating are the happiest. Some new relationship-rules to live by include:

q  Each day emphasise the good you two share. Starting the day on a positive note means it’s more likely to end that way.

q  Make regular dates with each other where you ban talk about, e.g., the mortgage and the boss you hate. Instead talk about things that make you laugh.

q  On anniversaries and other event-days look through old photographs and share happy memories. Couples research shows that couples that remember the good times are more likely to stay together during the bad times.

q  During disagreements take time to listen calmly to the other person's side of the story. If necessary use an egg timer and allow each other two-to-three full minutes to speak without interruption.

q  If you always argue about the same issue, tape-record yourselves and listen back. You're very likely to see a pattern that you can then break.

q  Change the daily grind. Make a point of trying something new every week or two. Join an evening class or gym together. Take dance classes or wine tasting. The couple that plays together stays together!

q  Spice up the bedroom routine. It doesn't take much effort, even simple changes like changing the time of day or the room you normally make love, or the position you favour all help. Buy some new pieces of sexy clothing, a new CD of mood-music and some scented candles to make things a little more sensual.

Published in the Express Newspaper

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