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Sheridan Ward's Guide to making 2021 your year!

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Lea Randalls

2020 was a big year for reflecting, for some people the daily grind came completely to a halt and they were left with lots of time for reflection.

The pandemic has not been completely negative, I think it has allowed us to take a step back and really focus on how to best divide our time between everything that is important. It has been a period in our lives like no other. Even though it can be easy to focus on all of the negative things in life, it is so important to recognise the positives and focus on them.

With so much more ‘free time’ it can be easy to get lost in your day. Without the structure of a normal work week, we can often find ourselves stuck to the TV or our phones, or things that do not matter in the grand scheme of things.

This blog is designed to help you find things to focus on, to try and improve your life in lockdown! Below are several ideas on what you can focus your time on and how do it effectively.

  • The important people in your life: 

This could include your family, friends, your work colleges or your significant other. You could do a virtual games night with the important people in your life or a zoom coffee catch up date with your friends. A phone call can really make someone’s day, so make sure to stay connected to everyone in your life.

  • Your hobbies:

Whether reading, cooking or exercise is your hobby make sure you do more of it. We all need to do more of what makes us happy in life. So, make sure you schedule in your hobbies as they are as important as everything else in your life. If you take the time to do activities that make you happy then that will have a positive effect on the rest of your life, as you will feel more fulfilled.

  • Self-care: 

Whether self-care looks like working out or a daily walk, getting a good night’s sleep, doing your skincare routine, or reading a chapter of your book, we should all take some time out of our day to do something solely for ourselves. These things can also do an amazing job at relaxing us and with a pandemic going on, I am sure we can all do with a bit of relaxation!

 

  • Start every day on a positive note

Create a ritual in which you start off each day with something uplifting and positive. Here are a few ideas:

  • Tell yourself that it is going to be a great day or any other positive affirmation.
  • Listen to a happy and positive song or playlist.
  • Share some positivity by giving a compliment or doing something nice for someone

 

  • Spend time with positive people

Negativity and positivity have been shown to be contagious. With this lockdown allowing us to spend a lot more time at home, we have not been seeing friends, co-workers, and certain family members. Take some time to evaluate the purpose they all serve in your life. If you feel that someone was bringing negativity into your life, it is okay to revaluate if they should stay in your life or not.

This goes for the positive people in your life. If you have that one friend who is super positive, make sure to stay in contact and make that person a priority in your life. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and help you see the bright side, which is especially important in these difficult times ( even if it is over zoom!).

  • Focus on the good things

Challenging situations and obstacles are a part of life. When you are faced with one, focus on the good things no matter how small or seemingly insignificant they seem. If you look for it, you can always find the silver lining in every cloud.

 

  • Know What Makes You Happy

It can be hard to focus on things that make us happy, when we might not even know what they are. If you have not read in a while, pick up a book. If you have not cooked in what seems like forever, then open a cookbook and see what you can make. In this lockdown, we should all try to find a new activity or hobby. You never know, you might just find something that puts a smile on your face!

 

  • Keep A Gratitude Journal

Sometimes we do not see how good our lives really are. Try writing down one thing you are grateful for each day. Put that into a jar and when you are feeling down or a facing a difficult situation, go through and read all the things that are great about your life. When you keep this habit up for a year, you will then realize that there are 365 good things in your life.

Try and use at least one of these tips to help in your daily life. Remember it is not the occasional big changes that make the biggest difference. It is the little changes you make every day, that slowly make your whole life more enjoyable.

 

I think everyone is guilty of losing track of our days during lockdown, so making little, simple changes here and there will benefit you a lot. Whether that be creating a routine of when you wake up and what you do during the day or creating a schedule that includes breaks during your day so that you do not get overwhelmed. I think the seasons have a lot to do with how we feel. The first lockdown went into summer and we could all enjoy the sunshine, and everyone’s mood was a lot better. Now we are in lockdown in the winter and this has had a major effect on everyone’s mood.

Also, during this time of year, our days feel even shorter because the sun starts to set at 4pm and it feels like midnight at 6pm now. Winter can be a difficult time to get enough daylight, especially if we are struggling to be awake in the morning. We may also rely on artificial light and electronic screens late into the evening.

There are many different things to make sure you make the most of the daylight during the winter months. Here are some to help you get through the dark winter days.

 

  • Make the most of the natural light

As the days slowly shorten, bringing in natural light can be increasingly difficult. However, this does not mean to say you cannot bring any natural light into your home. It helps to keep the curtains open for as long as possible to ensure the light lasts longer. As soon as you wake up in the morning, open your curtains/ blinds and keep them open all day.

  • Negative effects of artificial light (might not need to include)

Artificial light makes us sleepier. Research shows that people who had daylight in the workplace were significantly more alert at the beginning of the evening. On the other hand, people who were exposed to artificial light were significantly sleepier at the end of the evening. Second, artificial light makes us more stressed. Our cortisol levels also change significantly under artificial or poor lighting conditions. That makes us more stressed and means we will have less ability to stabilize our energy levels. So, being exposed to dim light as well as too much artificial light makes us both sleepy and more stressed. Paying attention to these rhythms can transform your productivity for the better.

  • Mirrors

Mirrors are another great way to reflect both natural and artificial light in your home. They are perfect for doubling the brightness. For example, if you were to place a large mirror on the wall directly opposite your living room window, the light can bounce throughout, helping the space feel larger.

  • No technology after 10pm

Back-lit screens and devices such as many smart phones, TV’s or laptops contain a large amount of blue light, which the brain registers as bright daylight; suppressing melatonin production and keeping us awake. This light is most intense in handheld electronics that we hold close to our eyes. Try a ‘darkening down hour’ at bedtime by avoiding electrical screens and bright lighting for 60 minutes before bed.  Even a 30 minute darken down routine will be likely to help.

We really hope this blog has given you some ideas on how to make 2021 a more positive year for you. Even if you take one piece of advice, your life will hopefully be calmer and more productive. 2021 is our year. Our year to better ourselves. Our year to make new changes and stick to them. Our year to become our best selves. We all deserve to be happy and with this time in lockdown, it can be very easy to get strung down by the negatives and not focus on what is important and what makes us happy. It can be difficult to know where and how to start, to make positive changes in our lives, so we hope this blog has helped. Here’s to 2021!