Fall is the end of many things – but it can also represent the beginning. Wellbeing expert Lee Pycroft gets set for autumn with a mood-boosting guide to detoxing your life and getting rid of what no longer works for your wellbeing…
As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, “The only constant is change.” And as autumn creeps in and that summer feeling fades, the change of season offers us another opportunity to take stock, re-centre and re-evaluate our lives.
It’s easy to get into the habit of fleeing through life, juggling multiple responsibilities. We live in a time where busy-ness is often worn as a badge of honour – but when your life is full of an unending to-do list, other areas of our life that require some time and attention can go unnoticed and underdeveloped.
Look honestly at which areas of your life are not working and also at what is. Try dividing your life it into four areas (environment; health; work; relationships) and assess each one to discover where you could upgrade – or maybe simply let go of something that is no longer working for you.
Environment: declutter, organise, share the love
Our environment is the totality of our surrounding conditions and can encompass many areas – our homes and workplaces, where we spend our time and with whom.
If your home is full of clutter and each drawer has turned into a ‘miscellaneous’ one, then maybe it’s time to clear away what you don’t need anymore. What have you been putting up with through habit, or lack of noticing? Are you living with broken appliances or cupboards of clothes you haven’t worn in years?
The impact of living in an organised environment can help us feel more in control and clear-headed. It will exercise our decision-making skills and help create a feeling of confidence in our problem-solving ability. Give away what you no longer need – the very act of giving can enhance the feeling of wellbeing and make a significant difference to another person.
Health: nourish yourself to flourish
We can set up a healthy environment for ourselves by buying and cooking foods that will nourish and care for our bodies, and by taking the time to factor in an exercise plan.
Trading exercise and good food for other commitments such as work is the bodily equivalent of expecting a tree to be able to bend and bow to the changes and challenges of the season without any roots embedded firmly in the soil. Without our physical and emotional health, we can be severely diminished in what we can do, because we add yet another layer of challenges to cope with. We are a mind-body system, designed to move and eat foods that will help us stay vital and healthy.
There are numerous studies linking even moderate exercise to improved mental health and that show the benefits of mood-boosting foods. I know it can be tough to start exercising or cooking if you feel tired. Fulfilling all responsibilities can make you feel as though you are at full capacity – but consider that you are your greatest responsibility; not only to you, but to the people around you.
Create space in your diary and mark in a time and date for exercise and to replenish yourself in the same way that you would a business meeting. Give yourself the care and consideration you deserve. Not only can this help with productivity, but it will create more emotional capacity, improve your relationships and your sleep, too.
Work: make it work for you
Many of us spend a large proportion of our time at work. And according to government statistics, 15.4 million working days per year are lost through work-related stress, so the way we approach this part of our life is essential to our wellbeing. If you are sitting at your desk eating lunch on the fly, avoiding speaking up in meetings as your confidence is feeling diminished, or compromising in other areas of your life that bring you joy because you feel overwhelmed at work, then maybe now is the time to refresh your approach and renew this area of your life.
Ask yourself – if you were to wake up in the morning and the challenges you are facing were gone, what would you be doing differently? Do you need to add some new skills to your offering to feel more confident in a certain area, expand out of your usual routine and network to open new possibilities or say ’no’ to taking on more than you can realistically accommodate?
If you have a demanding boss and find you are saying ‘yes’ to extra work because of their persistence in asking, try repeating the same answer each time they ask you. After you have repeated your answer three times – without adding any justifications – it will set a firm boundary as to what is acceptable to you. Research shows that, in this case, the offending individual is much more likely to back off!
Relationships: stay close to what feels joyful
Having meaningful and positive relationships meets our emotional need for attention, connection and community. Positive relationships contribute to psychological resilience, enable greater performance, allow betterment of health and prospects, and even correlate to higher life expectancy.
The root of all relationships is the ability to be able to build trust, as without it we cannot progress. To some degree, this requires a leap of faith, as we never know for sure if the relationship, and the situations within, will work out. Ironically, when life gets busy, it can be the relationships we trust the most that we stop giving the time and attention they need in order to keep them nourished and alive – think of an intimate relationship that, due to demands of work and kids, overlooks the creation of the space necessary to replenish the emotional bank account.
Whatever your view of the relationships you have in your life, consider this. Always come back to love. Then, you can let go of toxicity and start being around more people that you feel inspired or joyful with. Perhaps you can then find compassion for another person’s perspective and help reach a point of reconciliation or forgiveness over any past hurts or feelings of betrayal.
Small changes in all these areas can help shed what might be weighing you down and start freeing yourself up to new possibilities. So embrace the opportunity to change, and enjoy shedding some of what you don’t need… just like those autumn trees.