Spring Clean your Life

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Build your emotional resilience and live a happy, fulfilled life…

Spring is a great time to spruce up your life and tend to your emotional and mental wellbeing. A vital tool in helping us survive emotional challenges is being emotionally resilient – having the ability to adapt and bounce back when something difficult happens. Here are some ways to help build your emotional resilience.

Value Yourself

Being an accommodating, caring person is great; worrying about people liking you and not stepping on any toes at the expense of your own desires is not so good. You can’t please everyone all of the time: accept that and make pleasing yourself a criterion for pleasing other people.

Changing ‘should’ to ‘could’

Become aware of when you’re using the word ‘should’ (‘I should be healthier; I should drink less; I should be a better friend/parent/colleague’). It’s like wagging a huge, judgmental finger at yourself, which can prevent you from doing what you really want. Instead, replace ‘I should’ with ‘I could’, ‘I would like’ or ‘I will’. This small change can help to remove judgement and guilt from your choices and allows you to give yourself permission to do what you really want to do.

Find a way to say ‘No’

When you say ‘yes’ to things you don’t really want to do, either you do them at the expense of your own happiness or you make excuses later and drop out at the expense of your relationships. Learn to say ‘no’ more, without feeling you have to explain. Being honest with yourself and others and really considering what you do/don’t want to do will make life easier for everyone in the long run.

Treat yourself as a good friend

Notice when you’re being critical of or hard on yourself and ask, ‘What would I say to my best friend in this situation?’ Chances are you’d be much kinder to them than you’re being to yourself. You deserve to be treated with compassion and respect as much as anyone else, so start by being kind to yourself.

Get enough sleep

Sleep deprivation isn’t used as a form of torture for no reason. Lack of sleep can magnify feelings of unhappiness, depression and anxiety, so ensure you get enough good quality sleep, perhaps by starting with a healthy bedtime routine – something we’re used to putting into practice with children but often neglect as adults. Hurling yourself into bed with a smart phone/tablet at the end of a busy day isn’t conducive to a restful night so take time to relax properly before bedtime.

Practice ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ and indulge yourself

Instead of filling your time only with things that are productive, useful or necessary do something you find fulfilling or relaxing or just plain fun, something that’s only purpose is to make you feel good. Separate out space for just YOU. Indulgence is a vital, good attribute, not a bad trait – you need rest, fulfilment, enjoyment and care to keep yourself healthy.

Jam tomorrow? Focus on living in the moment

In Lewis Carroll’s book ‘Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There’ the White Queen offers Alice ‘jam every other day’ as an inducement to work for her: ‘The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today.’ The phrase ‘jam tomorrow’ has come to be an expression for a never-fulfilled promise. Planning for the future is an important process – but if you’re preoccupied with a future that might never happen you may find yourself missing out on joyous moments you could be experiencing right now. Become aware of the present moment – and enjoy it.

Share what you’re going through

Brene Brown, American scholar, author, and public speaker, who conducts research on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame finds that her bestselling books are often categorised as ‘self help’ but she hates that phrase, saying, ‘I don’t know what it means. I don’t think we’re meant to do it alone.’

If you keep your struggles to yourself because you don’t want to be a burden, or think you should be able to handle your problems on your own, develop a strong support system. It takes a lot of courage to open up and be vulnerable but knowing that you have someone you can turn to when things are tough can be an enormous relief and a great help.

Create change in your life

William Ernest Henley’s poem, ‘Invictus’, is famous for the line ‘I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.’ No-one is going to come along and make your life what you want it to be so take responsibility for your choices and decisions and find ways to create the change you need. We are each the master of our own destiny – design the life you truly want to live.

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