Towards the end of the year, it’s always a good time to take stock of our habits, health and wellbeing. As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, practicing a good degree of mindfulness can be a good first step to looking after our mental wellbeing. Reassessing your habits and removing damaging patterns from your life can boost your happiness and help you take the first steps toward improving other areas of your life.
To begin this process, start auditing your negative habits and looking for ways that you can turn them on their head to make them positive. Here are some examples for you to begin:-
Shopping To Make Yourself Feel Good
This is a particularly toxic habit, especially with the current state of the economy and the run up to Christmas. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t idlily browsed through Amazon and brought something on a whim just for a little dopamine boost! But in these times of austerity, this is a toxic habit that really needs to go.
That little happiness boost triggered by your impulse buy is fleeting at best. Research suggests that humans have evolved to very quickly recalibrate after events so that happy feelings caused by things outside of ourselves fade very quickly. Instead, we should undertake pursuits that bring us long lasting feelings of joy such as having adventures with friends and family, enjoying our hobbies and helping people in need.
Comparing Yourself to Other People
We’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to other people. Whether it be feeling resentful of a person who seems to have a perfect Instagram life or contrasting our careers against friends who appear to be more successful, dwelling on areas of your life where you feel you fall short is not helpful to anyone. It may not even be accurate. We don’t know the in’s and out’s of other people’s lives. Just because someone looks from the outside like they’re doing well, it doesn’t mean that they are happy.
Rather than comparing yourself to other people, we should instead be celebrating our strengths and doing things that bring us happiness. Learn to focus on yourself and strive to live an authentic and purposeful life.
We’re all guilty of having our phones glued to our hands more now than ever before and guess what, it gets in the way of our lives. No, really, it does! How often are you sat with friends when one of you isn’t looking at their phone? Rather than being disengaged from friends and family conversations, instead try leaving your phone in your bag and focusing on the life that is unfolding around you.
Research indicates that too much screen time leaves you with a lack of focus and a short attention span, whilst too much social media use has been connected to anxiety and depression. Try practicing mindfulness to stay in the present moment and boost your wellbeing. Apps such as Headspace and Calm are great tools for helping you to refocus and use your phone with purpose rather than through repetitive, addictive behaviour.
Overthinking is such a common, anxiety-inducing behaviour these days, whether it be rereading and rewriting an email and worrying about the outcome or agonising about events beyond your control. A good way to get out of this mindset is to look at the subject of your overthinking and ask yourself whether this is something you can actually change. If it is something that you can change then give yourself an allotted amount of time to do something about it and then distract yourself with a fun activity that will let you switch off your brain and move on.
Holding on to Grievances
It can be hard to forgive people who you feel have let you down – friends who haven’t checked up on you or family who have wronged you in some way. However, this injustice collecting has more of a negative impact on you than on them by inducing you to see the world with a ‘glass half-empty’ mentality. Rather than continuing to collect negativity, start embracing gratitude and positivity for the people who do show up in your life when you need them. Try starting a gratitude journal and writing a few words every day on what you’re grateful for – be it a sunny day, a good cup of coffee with a friend or a precious moment of peace and quiet. This will help to improve your mood and your general outlook on life.
We hope that these ideas on how you can improve your habits this winter will give you some food for thought on making some positive changes in your life. We all deserve to be happy but you have to put the work in to make a better life for yourself.