Monday 21st January is apparently the most depressing day in the British year of 2019. I suppose this makes perfect sense if you consider that we are coming down from the highs of Christmas, the joy of that weird in between week on the lead up to New Year where time seems, well – timeless. That is until now. Where we find ourselves (impatiently) waiting for our next paycheck, as we reluctantly admit that the resolutions we set some 20 days ago are now proving a tiny bit tricky to hold. To top it all off, the weather is cold; we wrap up in our wooliest hats as we face those zero degree temperatures on our way to work. Before you know it, your curiosity to “just have a look what’s new in knitwear online” crosses your mind, and you’re dipping into your already low dispensable income to buy even more but totally cute and (un)necessary knitwear on the train, just to soothe your pain of starting and ending your working day out in the dark. I definitely sensed this Blue Monday slump among the other commuters on my way into London this morning.
Although this does all sound rather bleak, and frankly makes me want to just throw on my dressing gown (because a dressing gown solves everything from a hangover to the meaning of life itself) and admit defeat as I turn on yet another episode of Friends, longing that I too could join the gang in Central Perk and drink coffee all day and wait for it… not have to work! It’s then pretty surprising when you find out that Blue Monday was actually intended to inspire individuals to spark change and make bold decisions in their lives. So, as I sat there on the train this morning, picking up on the low and tired energy of my fellow commuters, I got thinking about all the ways I can make bold decisions in my own life. I was also lucky enough to attend a motivational talk at work by Muireann Carey-Campbell, otherwise known as Bangs, from her blog – Bangs and a Bun. Bangs gave me even more food for thought on how we can do this – (the inspiring changes part that is, not the hanging out with Rachel and Monica in New York part!) So, in order to spark some change in your life and reinforce this as a habit in mine, here are a few of the tips that I am pleased to say I either learned from Bangs’ talk or are my own tips that she too reinforced in her own witty, insightful and realistic way.
“Small steps make big changes” – Bangs and a Bun
Feed the Hanger
First and foremost, I find I’m the most productive when I make the time to have breakfast. Not only does it feed the hangry lady who lives inside me at 7am, but it helps me get focused and kick-starts my metabolism for the day. Set aside an extra 10 – 15 minutes of your morning to have a good breakfast, it’ll do you wonders.
Sleep is Not for the Weak!
I have no idea why sleep is meant to be considered a bad thing! I’m more alert and find myself much better company and more productive when I’ve gone to sleep by 10:30/11pm. Bangs also emphasizes how sleep is so crucial for us to be able to function and how we as a society need to break the idea of, as NaS puts it that, “Sleep is the cousin of the death”.
Bangs’ Tip 1: Bangs also expressed my enthusiasm for sleep, despite being a raging insomniac herself. I’m happy to see I’m not the only one!
I always plan what I need to achieve and complete the next day, in advance. I.E. before I leave the office, I write a list of what I want to achieve tomorrow. Similarly before I go to sleep at night, I set reminders on my phone or add to my “Notes” on my phone, to give me the helping hand I need to remember to complete my own life errands, such as to ring the dentist/ book a gym class/ take a break (yes, I plan that to!) or whether it is to prepare my lunch for work the night before. My only issue at the moment is that I need to be more strict with the allotted time and try to be more consistent in following through on them.
Bangs’ Tip 2: This tip was the overarching theme of the talk, that small steps make big changes. For example, one goal of mine this year is that I want to eat healthier and save money, so I know that if I prepare lunch at home I’m one step closer to doing both. Although I’m not at my super organized stage at the moment, planning small and realistic steps to the overarching goal is definitely a smarter approach in achieving them. Plus it means I won’t completely give up on my healthy eating when I decide to treat myself at lunch time!
Bangs’ Tip 3: She recommended to write down three things that made you smile or happy today. Some days there will be so much and others it may feel like there are none. Nonetheless this is a really nice challenge for us to reflect on to find the good in our daily lives.
A Start Date
Don’t be afraid of saying your goals out loud, scientifically you’re so much more bound to achieve them if you do.
Bangs’ Tip 4: Sharing your goals makes you accountable for them. She emphasized to put it out there in the Universe by sharing it with a good friend, or someone you can trust. This will make you accountable for it and your friend can give you the push or encouragement and faith in yourself that you need when you begin to slip.
Back in October, I made the conscious decision that I wanted to start taking better care of my body. I love how much stronger, refreshed and clear headed I feel after a workout. I’m lucky enough to now have a gym at my work with various classes on offer, so there is no excuse. However, typically in the past I wasn’t a “gym person”, so I used to either go for a walk every lunch time in my local park by my old work for 30 minutes, or go for a run after work or mix it up by doing an at home Pilates class by following a YouTube video. I can confidently say that this really helps me beat my blues and is a great stress reliever!
Bangs’ Tip 5: With pure passion, Bangs lit up the room as she explained how achieving our goals is directly linked to movement. Bangs discussed the joy that toddlers experience when they first learn to walk; they love discovering what their body can do and every time they fall, they just get back up again, arms waving in tow. Finding some kind of activity or sport that speaks to you and brings you joy is so important! It also teaches you self motivation and resilience. We’ve all had that moment where we think that we’ve given that run all we can, or we have reached our max on how many press ups as we can do. That is until we find the strength within ourselves to go that bit further, to give it 5 more. Similarly, within our own goals, movement can teach us how small and often changes can lead us to our goals as well as give us the emotional strength to overcome the challenges that we may face in our personal lives.
Bangs’ Tip 6: Something that didn’t spring to my own mind, that Bangs articulated so eloquently was accepting what we didn’t achieve, but still seeing the good. For example, I didn’t pack my lunch for work today instead I bought my lunch from the canteen at work, but instead of shaming myself for spending that money, I appreciated that I caught up with one of my colleagues by chance when I was there. It was really nice to just take a moment out of our day to have a chat and share a laugh together. I accepted that although I didn’t save some of my money today, I did build a relationship more, and I’m okay with that.
Rest & Rewards
Bangs’ Tip 7: Take time out of your “goals” to do something completely different. Watch a film and switch off for 2 hours. You deserve it! Take the pressure off yourself and remember you don’t have to consistently be “on”. As much as consistency pays off, Bangs reminded the group that it’s all about balance and you have to give yourself some time off to have fun, so that you really can be your best self!
I hope this blog post gave you some realistic but inspiring ideas on how to make some bold and attainable changes in your life! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!