2017 was one of the most mentally challenging years of my life. My depression was at an all time low and it was affecting all areas of my life, from work to relationships. All I wanted was for this cloud to lift and to feel happy and myself again and I knew that the only person that could make that happen was me. We really are the only ones in control of our happiness! I started to thinking about all the times I’ve been really, truly content – what was I doing in those times of my life? What was I focusing my energy on? Below are the 10 things that helped to bring me out from a dark place to a place, now, of true joy and contentment. I really hope some of these might help you too to make 2018 your best year yet!
When I first did yoga, aged 20, I hated it – I thought it was boring, too difficult (because I was SO unflexible) and I felt I was just forcing myself to do it for my bad back. After some time though, I realised that being on the mat had created a safe place for me to sit with myself and explore how my body and mind felt without judgment. Now, every time I do a yoga class, or even just do a 5/10 minute meditation on the Calm app on my phone, I can connect with that feeling. There is also no better feeling to me than feeling my body open up, relax and bend into positions I never thought possible! I’ve just signed up to do a Yoga Teacher Training Course in April this year as I thought, I love this so much, I need spread that joy to others. I remembered that saying, if you find something you love doing – do more of it!
For me, exercise is one of my favourite ways to wipe clean a bad day and start over. I also love it to energise me in the morning and start my day with a positive and productive attitude! I much prefer to do group classes than go on my own to the gym as I find the energy of other people keeps your energy lifted too and it stops you getting distracted by your phone or your thoughts! It’s one of the best stress busters for me as it stops you thinking about anything else for the hour that you are in that class and the release of endorphins gives you a natural high that leaves you feeling so happy. I like to change up what classes I do, from barre to boxing to spinning. It keeps it interesting and you can tailor your training programme depending on your mood – if I’m feeling zen I go to yoga, if I’m mad I go boxing and if I need to sweat out the weekend, I go spinning!
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
I recently read this book when I went on a retreat to VIVA MAYR and I can honestly say it changed my life. I have recommended it to everyone I know and I can’t begin to tell you what it’s done for me. It transformed my entire thought process and since reading it I haven’t felt depressed once! GO READ IT!!
All my girlfriends have definitely been a huge part of my journey to happiness. There is little in life I love more than seeing one of my best friends for endless laughs and catching up on each others news. I love how girls meet up, it’s like constant free therapy! I am so so grateful every day for my amazing friends and it is so important to nourish and appreciate those friendships.
Ditching the Cocktails
Most of us have been conditioned to believe that when we feel stressed, sad or anxious, a drink will relax us. It’s also a huge part of socialising, especially in the UK, and so alcohol becomes a massive part of our lives without us even realising. The thing is, no one really reminds you that alcohol is depressant, and while it might initially make you feel happy and relaxed, what follows is feeling low and anxious (possibly as a direct result of any embarrassing dancing or things you did while drunk!). Whenever I cut out alcohol from my life, I literally feel like a different person; happier, more energised and productive and even slimmer too! I’m going to aim to cut out alcohol for the whole of 2018 to see just how much happier and how much more I can do in a year just by making this one (albeit a big one) change!
I found that every time I came back from a detox retreat I felt my absolute best, not just physically, but mentally. I started to realise that when I wasn’t putting toxins in my body, I really did feel so much better. I looked into the research and found that 70-90% of serotonin (our happy hormone) is produced in the gut! So it makes sense that what we eat would effect how happy we feel. I find that cutting out refined sugar, white bread, pasta and dairy helps me to function at my best.
Turn Self-Doubt to Self-Love
I spent years and years berating myself and speaking to myself with such a negative and nasty inner voice. It’s no wonder I was unhappy when I was being so horrible to myself! But it’s so easy to do isn’t it? The thing is, when we use negative words to describe ourselves, we start to act in ways that prove that we our right because our subconscious can’t differentiate between truth and lies. For example, if we tell ourselves we are fat, we over eat and binge to prove it! Once we start to change this self-talk we change not just who we believe we are, but we actually change who we become. One way to start this process is to stop saying negative things about ourselves out loud. When somebody compliments you, lets say on a great thing you did at work, instead of saying “oh thanks but it wasn’t really down to me, I had help and actually I’m not even that good at this or that”, just say “thank you” and don’t follow it with a criticism about yourself. Firstly, it’s quite frustrating for the other person to have their compliment backfired on them, but more importantly it stops your self-conscious thinking negatively. Try this for a week and you might surprise yourself how differently you start to feel when you accept praise rather than constantly reject it!
I also think it’s important to start to accept that self love is OK. When we are growing up we are told constantly ‘don’t boast, don’t show off, don’t’ be arrogant’. Now, while I agree that arrogance is a truly disgusting trait, we are all becoming quite quick to judge someone who is merely confident as being ‘arrogant’ and we throw the word around frequently. It makes us all scared to be too confident or to love ourselves because we don’t want to be tainted with that brush. But in reality, when we truly love ourselves and feel confident in who we are and what we believe in, we can actually show others so much more love and become so much more giving because we are not projecting our unhappiness and insecurities onto others. We are able to empathise more and make an extra effort to make others feel happy when we feel that love inside ourselves.
IT IS OK TO LOVE YOURSELF and YOU SHOULD!
For me, self-care is a huge part of feeling good. I find that my evening skincare routine is like an active meditation – a time where I focus and re-centre after that day and prepare my mind and body for a good nights sleep (and getting a good sleep is also KEY to your overall wellbeing!). I also believe that getting blow dries, facials and having a manicure are not things we do to just look better, but they are things we do that allow us to take time for ourselves, something that is not that easy to do when we live in such fast paced lives. Sometimes, you can wake up feeling ‘blah’ but then put on a killer outfit, get your hair blown out, put on some lipstick and suddenly your inner Beyoncé shines through!
Nailing Your Morning Routine
I am a huge believer that how you start the day sets you up for everything that follows. Nailing a morning routine that makes you feel positive, motivated and energised is, for me, key to a happy life! The morning is probably my favourite part of the day and I cherish it so much! I start my day early, around 6am and before I even get out of bed I put on a 5 minute YouTube video of Positive Affirmations to start my day with a positive mindset. I then head to the shower and begin my morning skincare regime with some uplifting, happy music. Once I’m ready, I take a walk to my local café where I sit and enjoy my morning coffee and then write my to do list for the day so that I can focus my time and energy in the right way.
Cutting Out Toxic People
We’ve all got a few of these people in our lives – people who, after spending time with them, we feel slightly worse than we did before. They suck the happiness out of us and damage our confidence subtly yet effectively. I’ve really learnt as I’ve got older that these people are simply ones who project their insecurities onto others and it is really detrimental to those around them. It’s important to surround ourselves with people who really support and love us and make us feel good about who we are and what we want in life! You don’t have to be rude to cut out toxic people, but simple phase out and re direct your energy away from these people and use that new found time and energy to focus on people who bring joy and light to your life. It feels SO good when you master it!
Wishing you all a healthy and happy 2018
Lots of Love, Roxie xx