As adults, life always seems to get in the way with our best intentions of bettering ourselves. Whether it is work, family commitments, or just being busy in general, we often don’t notice when our habits and behaviour sometimes begin to get toxic. What better time than the start of a new year then for us to reflect on some of this toxic elements in our lives, and work on getting rid of it. Here are some suggestions on where to start.
Be proactive instead of reactiveDue to our hectic schedules, it is easy to go through our lives reacting to the things that happen around us. Some of these are out of our control – work commitments and traffic jams for example – but many others are self-imposed. So this year, why not try to minimise things to react to in the mornings to help you start your days in a more controlled and calm manner?
One thing to do would be to put your alarm clock on the other side of the room so that you can’t keep pressing the snooze button. You’ll soon find that you adjust to jumping out of bed easier than before. If you use your mobile phone as an alarm, putting it far from you also forces you not to respond to emails, WhatsApp messages or other alerts that might have popped up overnight. Deal with these at your own pace as you go through your morning routines, or better still, save them for when you’re in work mode.
Cut down on screen time
While we’re on the subject of mobile phones, another habit we often don’t think about is how much time we spend staring at the screen. After all, these devices – whether it’s phones, tablets or laptops – are so embedded in our lives that we seldom pause to consider how much they consume us. The suggestion here is not to cut them out of our life; that’s hardly realistic in this connected world we now live in.
Instead, find ways to minimise the screen time. Many smartphones these days offer you daily statistics of your use, so use that to help you gauge what is realistic for you. For example, you could opt to remove all your social media apps on your phone and only use them while you’re at your computer. Another way is to learn to start making phone calls again instead of sending numerous text messages which can sometimes go on for a while. If you want to give this a go, How To Break Up With Your Phone crafted a 7-day challenge to get you started.
Quit the negative self-talk
Words have power, even when we’re only talking to ourselves. Considering how much we speak to ourselves – science has shown that we do that more than we think we do – this can have a detrimental impact on our wellbeing if we keep being negative. This is not just about low self-esteem; just by being someone who complains too much about the people and things around us will eventually wear us down.
It’s no surprise then that US Navy SEALS adopt the strategy of speaking to themselves positively as part of efforts to overcome the difficult work that they do. Meditation is a good place to start in moving in this direction – it can help you navigate and manage the things in your life you can’t change. A more acute sense of self-awareness will also help – remind yourself of the good things that are going on in your life to help change your mindset.
Start taking care of your bodyModern life means that we tend to deprioritise our wellbeing, especially when it comes to find the easiest ways to get through a long day or week. It’s times like these that we resort to putting the most toxic food in our body, whether it’s from stress-eating junk food or the speed and convenience of fast food. Again, the trick is not to cut these out of your life completely but to be aware of how much you’re consuming them.
Cutting out processed food and eating the right snacks instead can have many different positive impacts on our bodies: we don’t only start to look better but we also sleep better and that’ll help us feel better. To keep the momentum going, consistently getting exercise, with the right fitness regime, will also contribute to this, as will doing away with other bad habits like smoking and alcohol drinking. Doing all of these will have long-term positive consequence for your body too.
Set the right goalsThe few suggestions above involve many different elements in our lives that could be deemed toxic, but would require the setting of many different goals. So, it seemed apt to end this article with a suggestion to be careful of our tendency to set the wrong goals. What this means is that the natural thing to do is to attempt to solve them all at once. The outcome of this is what feeds the toxicity – if you set the wrong goals and fail to achieve them, then you’ll feel negative about yourself, force you to react to things out of your control and you may take it out on your body to navigate the feelings.
What you can do is take advantage of the fact that many of the things discussed above overlap, so start by setting general and broader goals. Create a workable timeline which includes space for evaluation, so that you can adjust them where necessary. The journey towards a healthier and better life doesn’t happen without a bit of work, so pace yourself by crafting smaller goals to slowly get there.