2020 was a very challenging year for everyone. There’s been plenty of lows but hopefully lessons and glimmers of positivity too. Here are some of the best things I learnt.
1. Visual prompts make habits stick
We all have grand ambitions about who we want to be and the daily habits we want to have, but actually making a habit stick is so so much harder. This year I used a A4 year wall chart pinned to my bathroom mirror to create two habits and I was impressed how much it helped me. I got a TICK everyday I meditated (see below for more on this!) And a CROSS when I successfully avoided sugar. Sugar is most people’s arch nemesis, it tastes soooo good but for me it wrecks havoc with my sleep and I know it zaps us all of Vit C, zinc and magnesium which we need for good immunity. The guilt of not seeing the daily TICK or CROSS propelled me to keep to those habits.
2. If I don’t meditate every day, I am not very nice
I learnt Transcendental Meditation (TM) when I was 25 to help manage chronic pain caused by a car accident. It was a daily habit for years, squeezed beautifully into my day during my commute to or from work. Then I had kids and for many years I didn’t meditate regularly. Looking back I think it was one of the reasons I experienced episodes of PMDD. So this year I made a promise to myself that I would TM every day and on the whole I have. That regular practice means that when I do miss a day or two here or there, I really notice it. I don’t have as much patience or inner calm, I am more easily rattled. I am generally not as nice as I can be. So TM has to be part of my life as I want to be my best version, for myself, my clients, and my family and friends.
3. Don’t be be a skeptic – we need to protect ourselves from blue light
At the beginning of this year I was fascinated to learn the science on why blue light from electronics damage our hormones and how blue blocking glasses can help. Then lockdown happened and my whole family became practically glued to screens for work or school. Aghhhhh! I invested in blue blocking glasses for daytime by BLUblox and the evening by Swanwick and can really feel the difference when I don’t use them. I also try (and often fail) to turn off all screens by 8pm as this has a big impact on sleep quality.
4. Doing a gratitude challenge journal during lockdown kept me sane
Since March I have a daily habit of writing down 3 things I’m grateful for, ideally different things each day. Us humans are hard wired to focus on the negative and in 2020 there has been plenty to choose from! We need to train ourselves to look for positives as it keeps us calm and increases our happiness. Once we look for the good in our life, we start seeing the great. This daily practice has made me be a happiness detective as each day evolves so I can document the highlights – birdsong, enjoying a meal, a pleasant interaction with a stranger. Try it and feel your happiness grow.
5. Scheduling fun is the way to a happier life
The words scheduling and fun don’t sit that well together. Aren’t they opposites? Fun should be spontaneous and free, whereas scheduling makes me think rigid and boring. I noticed over the years that my life had got a lot more serious and there simply wasn’t as much fun as there just to be. Having small kids, moving countries and frankly just being an adult can reduce the fun factor. So I’ve scheduled more fun into my life and trust me it’s brilliant. For me, fun is watching a slap stick comedy movie or a stand up comic, dancing like a loon in my kitchen or jumping on a trampoline. Making sure I make time for fun things has brought so much joy into my life and I highly recommend it.