Spring has finally sprung in Toronto! Since we’ve waited so very long for the season to arrive, we all want to make the most of it. There’s a sense of rebirth and newness that comes with Spring — the melting of all the leftover snow and the emergence of flowers and leaves on the trees. All this freshness in nature makes us crave freshness in our lives as well. For some, “out with the old and in with the new” becomes the motto. This is great when it comes to Spring Cleaning our homes (begone, dust bunnies!), but have you thought about Spring Cleaning your life? What bad habits are lurking in your life… Are you ready to give them the heave-ho? Perhaps replace them with healthier habits that feel fresh and can give your life a boost? Let’s talk tips for tidying up your life.
1) Make a list. Instead of tackling things willy-nilly, put pen to paper and list the things in your life that you’d like to change. Ditching coffee? Upping exercise? Dating differently? When you write things down, you take the idea from being a notion floating around your head to a more concrete idea that you are now acknowledging as important enough to record.
2) Give it importance. It’s easy enough to know what you’d like to change, but have you thought about why you want to change it? Personalize your reasoning to your own life. For example, if your goal is to quit smoking, why do you want to do that? I’m not talking about the obvious “well, because it’s bad for me” reason. Why does it matter to you? Does it upset your partner, causing tiffs? Do you find that your ability to give it your all in spin class is suffering? Are you thinking long-term, and considering how long you’d like to be around for your grandchildren? Whatever your reasoning, write it down beside your goal. Reflect on these reasons regularly for motivation if the going gets tough.
3) Start small. It’s fine to want to lose 50 pounds, but if you try to do that in one week, you’ll be back at the buffet by Wednesday. Break down your larger goal into smaller, achievable pieces. This will make things seem doable, and therefore sustainable. Try exchanging one white carb serving for one veggie serving. When that seems easy-peasy, move on to the next thing.
4) Have fun with it! All work and no play makes everyone cranky. How can you up the fun quotient? If you’re looking to get fit, enlist a buddy or try a dance class. If you’re cutting caffeine, host an herbal tea party (pinkies up!). The more you enjoy something, the more likely you are to keep doing it. Find the fun. It’s there.
5) Avoid amnesia. If you didn’t do #4, you may find yourself wondering why the heck you started making this change anyway. This is the time to go back to the list you made (see #1 and #2), and reacquaint yourself not only with your goal, but why it is so important to you. When you remember the real purpose of the change you’re striving for, it can jumpstart that desire and motivation to keep going.
Got it? Good! Ditch the mop and broom, and let the real Spring Cleaning begin! Still struggling? Check in with your counsellor and get the support you need to make these important changes happen… and stick.
Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW.