It’s official – Spring in coming! Now that March has finally arrived, we can all relax in the knowledge that the harshest days of winter are (probably) behind us, and that soon we’ll be surrounded by all the loveliness that is Spring. Flowers will start poking their heads through the muddy ground, sunshine will become the norm, rather than a surprise, and if we’re lucky? The temperature may start to rise too.
Spring is a wonderful time of the year. For me, it signifies a new start; a time to shake off those winter blues and start hurtling full-speed after your dreams. Spring is fresh, energising, inspirational, bright. And you can be all those things too, if you follow these few simple steps that will make you feel positively charged for whatever amazing things life is going to throw at you this year. All you have to do is be willing!
So…here we go.
1) Write a happy list
Take an afternoon, perhaps at home with some music on, or in your local coffee shop, or wherever you feel comfortable. Write a list of all the things that make you happy. Don’t take too long over it, just write down whatever comes to mind. It could be spending time with your friends, cuddling puppies, travel, making cupcakes – whatever floats your boat. Then, fold that piece of paper, pop it in your purse or handbag, and focus on all those things, NOT the things that bring you down. Whenever those pesky winter blues start to creep in, refer to it. It should instantly make you feel better.
(Here’s one of mine from a particularly bad day a few years ago. Focusing on the good stuff really helped)
2) Have a clean out.
Having a good old reshuffle will automatically have a positive effect on your life. Start with your make up drawer, or something easy. Throw out all the things that are broken, or empty, or that you know you won’t use anymore. Make sure your space is tidy and anything that’s been unnecessarily cluttering it up either thrown or given away. Then you can move on to your wardrobe – giving the items you no longer wear to charity will be cathartic, I promise. Best of all? It will make room for all the gorgeous new season clothes you’ve had your eye on. Marvellous!
This seems boring, but honestly, it can change your life. Just taking a look at your bank statements and seeing where your money goes can make the world of difference. If you’re a little tight on cash and are responsible for your bills, take a look a U-Switch or other comparison sites and see if you can save money, just by moving some things around. Then work out hwo much you spend on coffee, or cigarettes, or Pret lunches. Sometimes, seeing it and black and white can be a shock. Making a commitment to cut down on a couple of these things a month can sometimes result in as much as a new outfit, or something special you’ve had your eye on. Definitely worth trying!
4) Have a life audit
Now, this is big, and quite scary, as it can result in learning a few things about yourself and others that you may not have expected. But it’s so worth it, I promise. Let’s start somewhere easy – with facebook. My guideline is simple. Do I want to wish them a happy birthday when it comes around? Would I cross the street to say hello to them? Do I want them to know my business? If the answer is no, they get deleted. I promise, it feels good! If you’re not quite ready to do that…start small…and remove their posts from your timeline. They’ll never know and you’ll not have to feel guilty. Win/win, don’t you think??
Next, take a look at your relationships. By the time we reach our late 20’s and 30’s, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to stay in touch with all different types of friends. Those from school, from Uni, from all our jobs. Those we met on holiday. Those we met through an ex-boyfriend 5 years ago. Our address books are full of people we feel guilty for not seeing, but don’t necessarily WANT to see regularly.
The lovely Gemma Went of Mum and That recently suggested a really quick and simple exercise to help you manage this. Grab a piece of paper, and draw three large boxes.
- In box 1, write the names of the people who support, love and care for you. Your best friends, who you want to see/speak to/laugh with week in week out.
- In box 2, write the names of the people who you still have time for, but maybe you don’t speak to all the time. Perhaps you drifted apart, or they got a new boyfriend and stopped calling, or you made new friends and things changed. They go in box 2.
- Finally, in box 3, write the names of people who in all honesty, you don’t want to spend so much time with. They may have hurt you, or owe you money and refuse to pay it back, or who you quite simply don’t like so much anymore. It’s OK, don’t feel bad. You don’t have to stay in constant contact with people you met 8 years ago if you’ve moved on. Time creates distances.
When you have all your boxes complete, take a deep breath. You’ve just spring cleaned your friendships. You may be surprised by who landed in which box, but your heart knows! Now, you can focus your time and energy on Box 1. Check in with box 2 every couple of months, and send Christmas cards and be civil to (or ignore, if you like) box 3. This process will save you a lot of time, energy and worry day to day. It’s worth doing at least a mental version of this every 6 months. People can jump boxes, and others will come in and out of your life all the time.
Next, while we’re looking at relationships, let’s take some time to audit your love life too.
- If you have a partner, think about how things are going. If there are some things you’d like to change, write them down and discuss them calmly and rationally, NOT in the middle of a fight. Communication really is the key.
- Consider spicing up your sex life a bit. Nowadays, there’s no shame in a little bit of experimentation, and it’s easy to get your hands on some great toys, for whatever you’re into. Start slowly with a blindfold (like this one from Agent Provocateur), dressing up in something special or some role-play, and then go with whatever feels good to you. Guaranteed to make both of you smile…
- If you’re single and happy, ACE. But if you think the time is right to meet someone, put yourself out there a little bit. Take a look at our events page for some great singles events, or bookmark sites such as Doing Something, which strives to take the awkwardness out of dating and offers some quirky and brilliant ideas.
5) Check in with your health.
During winter, we are all guilty of indulging in starchy, calorie laden comfort foods. The last thing you want to come home to when it’s cold outside is a salad – you want a steaming hot, rich and indulgent bowl of stew, or shepherds pie, or a roast dinner. And who wants to go to the gym? It’s -1º, you want to get home to your onesie, and the thought of travelling home on the tube with damp hair fills you with dread. Nothing wrong with that – it’s perfectly normal! But as the temperature starts to rise, and those Summer beaches start to beckon on the horizon, it’s time to re-evaluate your health and wellness. Spring is the perfect time to kick-start a healthier living regime. You don’t have to go crazy – but a few simple tweaks will make you feel great.
- Diet: Now is the perfect time to take a look at what’s in your fridge and start making a few improvements. Just trying a few new things will make a huge overall difference. Some examples:
- Swap white potatoes for sweet potatoes. Much better for you, and even more delicious. Can be mashed, fried, chipped, roasted or baked – so what would you miss out on?
- Swap white pasta, bread and rice for brown versions. Getting more wholewheat in your diet will make you feel less sluggish, help your digestion and generally improve your health. If you can. try to cut down on these things altogether a little bit (make spaghetti from strips of courgette, or spaghetti squash?) – but if not, make the switch to brown.
- Get a reasonably priced blender and start making delicious smoothies. A good glug of yogurt (I use Alpro, helps reduce my dairy intake), a splash of milk and some fruit, sweetened with honey or a splash of vanilla, is the perfect start to the day. Plus you get loads of vitamins and it tastes amazing. Mine take a minute to make – that’s nothing!!
- Take a look at how much you’re drinking. It’s easy to fall into the trap of boozing most nights during the winter, as the pub is warm and cosy and there’s not much else to do. I’m sure you’re fine, but if you can take a couple of nights off a week? Do. Good for your health, your wealth, and your waistline.
- Consider a healthy eating plan – NOT a fad diet! As you may have seen, I recently started a Paleo lifestyle, and have shed both pounds and the bloated feeling I used to have. There are lots of options out there, so see what’s best for you.
- Exercise: You don’t need to go to the gym to get more exercise. Personally I’m not a fan of signing up for a year and being surrounded by people who stare at themselves in the mirror for hours. Luckily, there are plenty of other options to suit us all!
- Take up cycling. In London, we no longer have any excuse, thanks to Boris Bikes popping up on every corner. If you’re not sure about cycling on roads, take a trip through one of our gorgeous London parks.
- Yoga. If you don’t fancy a group session, try getting a DVD and teaching yourself at home. This will do wonders for both your body and mind. Yoga is proven to reduce stress levels.
- Try a quirky class. There are loads of interesting ideas cropping up all over town. I love the idea of the Lomax 80’s Aerobic Class at Maggies nightclub every week…great fun, and you can reward yourself with a nice cocktail afterwards, if you like!
One last thing here. If you are stuck in a bit of a rut, and find yourself constantly craving fatty or unhealthy foods, it may mean that rather than eating to cure hunger, you’re emotional eating, due to boredom, stress or unhappiness. Check this chart to see if it resonates with you.
Then, take a look at this really handy guide to help you beat those cravings. Often, when we feel we MUST eat one thing, our body is actually crying out for something else. This chart will help tell you what your cravings mean – and what your body wants when you’re craving something else.
6) Evaluate your job.
You spend more time with your colleagues than you do with your friends. Remember that. So you should be happy in your working environment, or it’s bound to have a detrimental effect on other parts of your life too. Take a look at what you’re doing. Are you happy? If so – GREAT. If not, what’s the problem?
- Need more money? If so, considering having a chat with your boss. If you’re doing a great job and deserve it, it may be worth sitting down to negotiate. If you think you need to meet a few more targets before having the conversation, buckle down for a few weeks. But if you know there’s no chance of a raise – see point 2.
- If you love what you do, but don’t like the company, it should be easy enough to change. Start tweaking your CV (not on your work laptop!) and keep your eye on job boards to see what else is available. Chat to one or two recruiters (having too many working with you gets confusing). Dip your toe in the water. There may be something perfect waiting for you.
- If you’ve decided, after working in the same industry for a while, that it’s just not for you, there are a few options open to you:
- You may have what recruiters call “transferrable skills”, which means they can place you in a different industry who value your skillset (a perfect example as a Journalist moving into PR).
- You may decide that to get the job you really want, you need to return to studying. You have the choice of full time, part time or evening courses. If this will be a struggle financially, look into what grants are available. There are loans available for those who want to study to enhance their career.
- You may even decide that it’s time to go it alone. This is brave, but something more and more people are deciding to do. If you know you have the knowledge and ability to set up your own company, and you have the support around you, do it. Again, investigate help that is around for start ups. Both the government and private investors are always looking to help out fresh businesses with a great business plan. Take a look here for some good advice and help to find ways to finance a business idea. If you’re not ready to start a company, consider freelancing. Check out Emma Cossey‘s website for some great tips on how to do this.
Also, remember that when looking for a new job, your network can be invaluable. You may not be someone who attends networking events, or thinks they have a huge contact book, but take a look around you. Friends, family, ex-colleagues…they’re all in your network. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice – just remember to be subtle if you don’t want your current boss finding out!
7) Consider a holiday
This sounds simple, but…
Vacation used to be a luxury, but in today’s world it has become a necessity. ~Author Unknown
It really is true. Sometimes, just a break from it all gives you the head-space you need to make some important decisions, face up to some facts and most importantly of all? Gives you time to relax and let your cares drift away.
It doesn’t have to be a two week break in the Seychelles. You could treat yourself to an overnight spa break, a weekend exploring a fabulous city (on your own perhaps? Could be exciting) or a full on romantic country mini-break. There are loads of great offers to be found (try Secret Escapes, my favourite). Or, if you have the cash and the time, grab some great girlfriends and go somewhere hot and lovely, so you can gossip, sunbathe and drink cocktails to your heart’s content.
Whenever I do my budgeting (step 3), my end goal is always a holiday. I would happily cut out a Starbucks a day if it meant I could jet off on my own to catch up with friends on foreign shores, or cosy up with my boyfriend in a lush country hotel for a few days.
So that’s it! 7 ways to spring clean your life and get you 100% ready to kick-ass over the coming months and be the absolute best version of you that you can be.
Please do use the comment box below to share any of your own tips – or let us know if this has been helpful to you. I’d love to hear your thoughts!