How to detox your life for the New Year
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How to detox your life for the New Year

As 2016 draws to a close and we wait to welcome the New Year, we are already planning the resolutions that we will have every intention of keeping. Whether you can’t wait to see the back of it, or it has been the start of your success, this is the time in 2016 that we reflect on the past twelve months and look forward to the next. If you are stuck for ideas, have a look at how you can detox your life in easy and achievable ways for some inspiration.

Digital Detox

Coffee and smart phone
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Studies show that, on average, we check our phones 27 times a day. That can be responding to Facebook messages, Tweets, Snapchats as well as all the other platforms that we digitally reside in, as well as text messages and phone calls. If you feel chained to your mobile or others have commented on it being an extension of your arm, it may be time for a digital detox.  

The easiest way to achieve a respite is by turning off your notifications. If you find Instagram can hound you then only be alerted when you enter the app. It is a natural habit to check your phone every time it beeps, but if you turn off the beeping, you reduce the amount of time you spend checking it.

Have a clear out of contacts. This can be on any or all of your platforms. In reality, do you really need to see that your hairdresser’s niece has dressed up her dog? Prioritise the important people and keep contact with those that matter, but if you have never messaged them, they can go. Miss Getaway, an Austrian life, style and travel blogger explores her own experimentation with a digital detox: “I could think more clearly again. This made me see that I am so much more than the numbers on my social media profile or the visitor count on my blog. It has made me realize that sometimes you’ve just got to enjoy the beauty surrounding you as opposed to taking a picture of everything. And worst of all, it made me see how much valuable time I actually spend on my phone.”

Streamline your home

Cacti on shelves
Image Credit: Milivanily (Pixabay)

Over the space of a year, it can be incredible the amount of clutter you accumulate. If it has been several years since you have indulged in a spring clean, you may be in need of an interior overhaul. The space around you can have an enormous effect on your mental well-being, adding to anxiety and increasing stress levels. The flip side of this is that a well-designed and beautifully finished environment can relax and calm you without you even noticing.

Scandinavian-styled interiors are returning to fashion. Think beyond Ikea, and instead to muted colours, homely textures and paired-back design. The ultimate combination to soothe nerves. There is the timeless layering of white on white, a seamless room of pristine surfaces broken only by different textures. This forces you to interact with your environment on a different level as you have to touch to distinguish the differences.

Plants are always a calming influence, but now they are set to be on trend too. Always opt for greenery over flowers, as a luscious back drop of tonal greens can take you away from the modern hubbub into your very own oasis. Kimberly Duran of the swoonworthy blog can see the rising trend in the organic, saying: “One theme I feel will be strong in 2017 is a return to nature. Bringing the outdoors in is nothing new but the influences will be taken from our love of the coast surrounding this fair island: think cool blues, greens, greys and pearl whites. Minerals like agate and marble will be used as accents throughout the home, while plants and botanical motifs will continue to be a big trend.”

Keep a diary

Keeping a diary
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Though we associate this activity with adolescents, keeping a diary is almost a form of therapy, it won’t solve any problems, however it does give you time to think over the events of the day, especially those that angered or distressed you. This extra review stops you from immediately rejecting negative feelings, so instead you can investigate why you reacted in the way you did (even if it is internal) and understand what drives those behaviours. The ability to self-analyse is important for our growth as people, and is often neglected.

A diary is also a record of who you currently are. As our personalities evolve with age, it is hard to understand how we felt a year ago, let alone five, and that can sometimes create a distance from our past experiences. By keeping a diary, you are instantly able to empathise with a younger you and by understanding why you made certain decisions, it helps you to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Benjamin Hardy wrote an article for The Observer on the topic of journaling, and had this to say about his own experience: “Journaling daily is the most potent and powerful keystone habit you can acquire. If done correctly, you will show up better in every area of your life - every area! Without question, journaling has by far been the number one factor to everything I’ve done well in my life.”

Have a challenging hobby

Playing piano
Image Credit: Brian Richardson (Flickr)

Have you been berating yourself for not learning another language, picking up an instrument or teaching yourself to knit? It can often be hard to find the motivation after a long week of work to engage your brain to learn something new, however it is important to stretch yourself outside of work. It initiates a creative outlet and a social event - whether on online forums or yoga classes, you will want to share your success with people, creating lasting bonds that have nothing to do with office or family, merely an appreciation for yourself and your new found talent.

Professional journalist, content writer and blogger, Jessica Freedman from tiny Buddha, shares her own experience in discovering a passion: “When I realized I was good at something (other than my boring job), I started valuing myself as a person much more than before. In a way, I individualized myself in a non-egocentric way. When I opened the first page of War and Peace, I was hopelessly intimidated. When I finished it, I felt like my life was changed. Not because I read such an overwhelming book, but because I gained new perspectives through it. There is one word that conveys such an accomplishment: growth.”

Eat locally-sourced food

Local vegetable stand
Image Credit: Christine Matthews (Geograph)

This has so many positives and though we all mean to do it, the convenience of enormous supermarkets that deliver to your door often win out. We all know that we should support local businesses and therefore the local economy. There is always the added benefit that it connects you with your community. By visiting the green grocer, butcher, fishmonger and delicatessen you engage in small talk, you repeatedly come back, by creating a rapport you become a member of the neighbourhood instead of merely passing through.

It is also environmentally sound, as reducing the miles your food travels reduces your carbon footprint. Eating locally-sourced ingredients lowers the amount of packaging and processing involved, and if you buy organic, it should significantly lower the amount of pesticides you consume. You also become more linked to your area, as eating local forces you to eat seasonally and you will probably come across strange varieties of things you have never heard of before as this is what thrives in your area. It is believed that eating local increases the nutrients you consume. Brian Halweil in ‘Still no free lunch: Nutrient levels in US food supply eroded by pursuits of high yields’ claims: “Most varieties of fruits and vegetables found in supermarkets today were chosen first and foremost for yield (how many pounds, pecks, bushels, etc. are harvested per acre), growth rate, and ability to withstand long-distance transport. Unfortunately, these traits which benefit national and international produce distribution often come at a cost: nutritional quality.”

Change your tea

Different tea leaves
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With so many more choices available to the modern-day consumer, even the humble cup of tea has not survived unscathed, and with hundreds of choices in leaves, flavours and caffeine content, it’s a bit bewildering to start with. These varieties have less caffeine and helpful extra properties than the standard builder’s brew, and it may be worth trading a couple of cups a day to one of the alternatives.

Sencha translates to ‘steamed’, and this alternative to the roasting method keeps this green tea tasting fresh and dewy as well as being high in anti-oxidants. Vanilla Rooibas is from a Rooibas plant and is often called red bush tea. It is naturally caffeine free with a rich and full flavour and a plethora of health benefits from skin improvements to bone strength having been attached to it. Pu-erh Tuocha comes in pressed domes and the earthy aroma is associated with the fermenting process. This is a tea expected to increase weight loss and aid reduction in fatty acids. Oolong is made from tea stems and subjected to an extra roasting to create a smoky flavour, making the wood dragon low in caffeine but still rich in flavour. Genmaicha is a green tea popularly known as popcorn tea as it is mixed with brown rice that often pops in the roasting process. A light savoury tea reduces sugar intake as well as caffeine consumption.

Research and book a destination holiday

Yorkshire Dales
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This may seem like an obvious one, but we don’t mean another week in Greece to the same place you have been going for the past five years. Instead, travel somewhere exotic or that you have had your heart set on for forever, maybe even somewhere to tie into the language you have been learning. Researchers from the Netherlands set out to study how holidays affect people’s happiness. The study, published in the journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life, showed that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation.

Whether it is the anticipation of the discovery to come or looking through glossy travel magazines, some part of us really enjoys booking holidays. In-depth research into the country or area you are visiting exposes us to aspects of different cultures and cuisines from the comfort of our home.

Even staycations (staying in the UK) can be enriching as you explore a different landscape or local cuisine. Getting in to the big city and seeing some of the country’s best known monuments can be great if you live in the country, alternatively relaxing in a spa in Yorkshire can be a great retreat for city dwellers.

Meditate

Meditation
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So many hours of research have gone in to proving the benefits of meditation but carving out ten minutes of your day to sit and breathe sometimes seems an impossible task. Taking yourself away from not only your technology and busy lifestyle but also your own thoughts, a few minutes to be still and just let go can increase your focus, mental well-being and concentration.

Project Meditation addresses the profound stress-relieving results of meditation, claiming: “focusing on the breath for 30 minutes – or listening to a brainwave entrainment track, or repeating a mantra – quickly stimulates a relaxed state of awareness. You can literally feel your body relax, your breathing slow and deepen, your heart rate slow… and as your thoughts stop racing and your emotions balance, you feel an extremely deep and profound sense of peace washing over you.”

Live and dare, a lifestyle blog have, created an easy infographic that demonstrates the different ways meditation benefits the body.

meditation infographic

Work on your relationships

Friendship
Image Credit: Daw8ID (Pixabay)

All relationships (whether romantic, platonic or familial) require work, and in our busy lives, calling five people every week just to catch up can fall by the wayside. Fortunately, most friends also live in a fast paced environment and are happy to let it slip, however, carving out ten minutes to call a different person every week can make all the difference. A 2010 study of 99 undergraduates in University of Mary, Washington found “students also reported that the Internet was less useful than face-to-face communication for building relationships and increasing emotional closeness with others “

Though it is tempting to drop a friend a message on social media, it is not always as fulfilling and satisfying as either calling or seeing them in person. People are less likely to open up on these sorts of platforms, so it is important to keep in contact in other ways as well. A ten minute coffee can mean more than 2 months of semi-neglected emails.

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