Off to a good start
No matter how long it’s been since you were in school, September’s hint of cooler weather brings the feeling of a new year and a fresh start. It’s a great time to get things in order for the fall and winter so there’s more time for joy!
Make mornings count
Let’s start with the morning. It’s not everyone’s favorite time of day, but getting off on the right foot will help you feel calm and focused. That means planning ahead: Set out your clothes and tidy up your space the night before. Just 10 minutes of planning the previous evening can help you feel ready to tackle whatever the new day brings.
Be sure to start the day with a glass of water for hydration and a healthy, well-balanced breakfast — include protein, a healthy fat (such as avocado, nuts, olive oil), whole grains and veggies or fruit. Avoid processed and sugary foods.
Even 10–15 minutes of exercise can jump-start your energy. A walk outside delivers a dose of daylight — research shows that morning light, even if the weather’s cloudy, is a mood booster that helps us feel better all day and sleep better at night.
Decide how you want to keep track of your appointments and reminders: It doesn’t matter whether you use a paper calendar, notebook, phone calendar or other digital format, as long as you keep it updated.
Simple life hacks such as meal planning for the week ahead, keeping your home organized so you know where to find things, and cleaning for a few minutes every day can help optimize your time. Make sure to schedule some down time for reading or relaxing.
Discover your main energy drain: Where do your best hours go? Then see if you can set boundaries to better protect your productivity. Limiting your phone and Internet usage can free up a lot of time!
Say no to stress
Every life and every job come with stress; some stress can even be productive. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to make some changes.
Identify the biggest causes of stress in your life so you can break the issues into smaller parts and make a plan to deal with them.
Finances can be a source of stress for many. Try to simplify your finances by creating a monthly budget and staying on top of your monthly in- and outflows. Set up bills to be paid automatically, check your bank statements regularly, and make a plan to deal with debt. Put aside money for savings if you can — even small amounts will add up over time.
If there’s a communication problem going on at home or at work, take the time to analyze and discuss your concerns.
Research shows that meditation can lessen anxiety and depression and reduce chronic pain and insomnia. It can help you feel more centered and present in the moment.
Maybe you’ve tried meditation before but had difficulty setting up a regular practice. Try meditating for as little as five or 10 minutes; the key is to do it consistently. You can meditate lying down or in a seated position, even on a train or bus. Try a meditation app such as the free guided meditations offered through UCLA.
If you get frustrated because you find your mind wandering, remember that is very much the nature of the mind. Re-focus on your breath or mantra. Try not to judge or get caught up in your thoughts — simply acknowledge you are having them and return to your breath. As with everything, some days will be better than others. Maintain a practice for 7–14 days and see how you feel.
Remember, every day is a new chance to better organize your time and feel more present and mindful.