So, today is the 30th December 2018.

We have a new year approaching… how does this make you feel?

Are you the sort of person who loves setting aside some time to think of lots of resolutions to follow? Do you find great motivation in the clean slate of a New Year?

Or do you make a point of NOT making any resolutions? You know you won’t stick to them so why bother? It’s a load of cliched nonsense anyway right?

Or maybe you are like me and you are somewhere in the middle….

I love the feeling of freshness that the New Year can bring. I used to be really really into making New Year’s Resolutions…. I would dedicate time every New Year’s Eve to writing out all the habits I was determined to stick to every day. Walk 10,000 steps, floss, drink 2 litres of water, meditate, 30 minutes of yoga, read for 30 minutes, go to bed early… They maybe varied a little from year to year, but the basic ideas were the same.

Then, last year I fell out with myself over it all! I was fed up always making the same lists with the same goals and never managing to stick to them! What a waste of time and how incredibly demotivating it all was…. It was far from inspiring looking back over the past year and realising that yet again I hadn’t had the discipline to stick to my New Year’s Resolutions. What a joke.

So last year, I made a conscious decision to not make my usual plethora of resolutions. It felt strange because focussing on them had always been such a big part of my New Year’s Eve routine. Instead, last year I decided to forget about my usual fitness and health goals and I made a promise to myself to do just one thing – Journaling.

I decided to make it a daily habit to write in my journal.

I didn’t have any set format, I just made a commitment to write for at least 5 minutes every day and let the thoughts flow. The commitment I made to myself was just for the month of January. I had never managed to stick to things all year round before, so I decided to take the pressure off and just commit for one month.

Guess what…… I actually did it!

What a joyous feeling it is to actually stick to something and fulfil a commitment to yourself!!

So this year, I am going to do the same…but with some extras.

This year, I am making the commitment to myself to write every day for the FULL YEAR. Based on my writing activity last year I know this is achievable for me.

I have also decided that I am going to follow a specific prompt every day for the month of January to really get me thinking about what my hopes and aspirations are for the year ahead. A month of contemplative journaling.

I am excited to see what enfolds as the month progresses!

My hope is that by spending a full month on some focussed questions I will be able to untangle what I actually want. I am hopeful that my real hopes and my true aspirations will unfold, rather than my standard “goals” that I used to hurriedly write down each New Year’s Eve.

I believe that these things are worth dedicating some time to and I am excited to get started!

If you would like to join me on this month of self-discovery, I have put the 31 prompts into a daily email format. All you have to do is sign up via this link – http://eepurl.com/gcHzcD and you will receive an email every day for the month of January with a new prompt.

Or, if you prefer Facebook, I will be posting the daily prompt in my closed group each day in January, so just join the group and check in each day for your new point of focus! Here is the link to join the group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/emilyclifford/

A month of focussed journaling.

Let’s do this!!

Oh, and just so you know, one more thing I’m doing this January is giving up eating after 7pm… cos ya know, chocolate happened!!!

It’s CHRIIIIIIIISTMAAAAAS!!!!!

A time of peace and love and joy, right?

Or, maybe you feel it is more a time of excess and busyness and stress, stress, STRESS!?!

I know so many of us end up getting swept up into a stressful whirlwind of shopping and wrapping and cooking…..

Our diaries get booked up with parties and meet-ups and we end up eating and drinking much more than we usually do. This coupled with less sleep & less time for exercise means we can start to feel sluggish and weary and not really so sparkly or merry or bright…

Well, I don’t think it needs to be just so stressful. I believe it really CAN be a time of peace, love and joy!

Here are my TOP TIPS to help you stay sane and keep your sparkle through the festive season!

S SLOW DOWN! Stop rushing around in a crazy frenzy! Take a moment. Stop. I know we all have a lot to do and we feel that time is running out… but rushing around does not actually help us get things done any quicker. All it does is raise our cortisol levels and add to the feelings of stress within our system! When we feel stressed it can be harder to think straight and more difficult to make decisions which ultimately makes us less efficient and means that things will take longer than they should or could! So let’s give ourselves a helping hand and simply slow down!

P PAUSE! I encourage you to take a break from it all! This could be stopping for a cup of tea or coffee while you are out shopping and just taking a moment to enjoy the festive atmosphere. Or it could be deciding to take a day (or maybe just an hour or so!) off from thinking about all the things you have to get or do! Distract yourself with a good movie or a catch up with a friend and call it a Christmas free zone! Or take some time out to meditate. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes, your brain and your body will still feel the benefits and you will go back to your tasks and to-do lists with renewed energy and gusto.

A ALLOW YOURSELF TO SAY NO! This is so much harder than it sounds but so so important! Allow yourself to say “no” to what doesn’t serve you, especially at this time of year when you are already so stretched! Make sure that you will really enjoy any festive socials or gatherings you commit to. Don’t feel pressured into going to your work do if you really don’t enjoy them. Don’t feel that you have to visit Santa’s grotto if you really can’t face the queues or you simply can’t afford it. Don’t feel that you have to buy EVERYTHING your children ask for! Allow yourself to say “no” to the alcohol if you simply can’t face another hangover… Lose the guilt! It’s ok not to do it all at Christmas… it doesn’t make you scrooge, it just means you are looking after yourself.

R REST! Get to bed early when you can. Never underestimate how important sleep is. Research has shown that our bodies require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue and balance hormones. We can become forgetful and irritable and even become more susceptible to colds and viruses as our immune system can be impacted by insufficient sleep. So, if you find you have a few more late nights this month, try getting to bed earlier on the nights that you don’t have plans to make up for it. You will function more efficiently as a result!

K KEEP IT SIMPLE! Let’s not overcomplicate Christmas. Lots of us have this desire to make everything PERFECT! This yearning is of course magnified by the endless images we see around us of the perfect Christmas scene with tastefully decorated trees, amazing feasts and families smiling together in their beautiful, warm, Christmassy houses! How about we give ourselves a break?! It’s ok if we aren’t quite able to produce a spread like Nigella or Jamie! It’s ok if our tree looks like it was decorated by a five year old (even if it wasn’t!)! Let’s keep things simple. Focus on what is really important to you and don’t let yourself get caught up in the hype of elaborate cuisine and ridiculous gifts!

L LISTS! I love a good list! That feeling when you tick off the last item….there’s nothing quite like it! I am a firm believer in writing things down. Once you get it down onto paper, your poor, overloaded head no longer needs to remember it! You can relax knowing that you can simply check back to your list to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. So don’t delay, get it all out of your head and write those lists!!

E EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY! My last top tip is to let loose and ENJOY this time! Maybe not the usual advice from a Pilates and Mindfulness advocate, but hey ho! I believe that there are times to be strict, controlled and focussed on your health and then there are times when you need to just let go and relax. Often I find that if people officially allow themselves to enjoy Christmas without worrying about counting calories or hitting their step count, they actually manage to keep a greater level of control over themselves than they expect! So ditch the diet for a bit, throw on your sparkliest outfit, put on some makeup and enjoy this magical time! It’s ok to party! It doesn’t mean you are “off the wagon” or “being bad”… you are simply embracing this time! Lose the guilt and savour every moment 🙂

And so with that I wish you all a wonderfully MERRY CHRISTMAS!

May your mood be light and your sparkle be bright!

Peace, love and joy to all!

Emily xx

I feel like I’ve had a bit of an epiphany!  So I thought it would be unfair of me not to share…..

I was at a training session recently with one of my amazing clients and we were chatting about how difficult it can be to get assignments done.  We are both studying at the minute and have been thrown back into the world of deadlines and essays and homework… and we are both struggling to get things done without leaving it all to the very last minute and then feeling stressed and anxious and not producing our best work!

After we had consoled each other a bit and told ourselves that we were doing the best we can, (we are each other’s best cheerleaders!) my client said something that might just have changed my life!

Ok, so this might be a little overdramatic yes, but it has certainly made an impact on my life….

“Just commit to spending 10 minutes on it.”

So simple!

My mind was blown!

I could instantly see how this could benefit me!

Worst case scenario, I only spend 10 minutes on it, but I would have at least made a start!

Best case scenario, I would get to the end of the 10 minutes and be in the flow and keep going for a bit longer.

Either way, I would make progress.   I would move forwards.  I would stop worrying about finding the time to get started and just do it!

I loved it!

This isn’t only effective with assignments or essays…. it works with lots of other things too!

For example, I had a HUUUUUGE pile of ironing building up and I kept putting it off and thinking I needed a good hour or two to get through it.  But when do I have a free hour or two??!   Or, if I’m being totally honest, if I do have a free hour or two, I don’t want to spend it doing my ironing!!  This does not fill my heart with joy! (I am not a lover of housework…..)

So, last night I said to myself, “Spend 10 minutes ironing and see what you can get done”.

40 minutes later I had the bulk of it done!  Go me!!

This 10 minute thing spurs me into action!

It breaks big jobs down into smaller, more manageable chunks and it gets me out of planning mode and into ACTION!

Need to declutter your house?   Spend 10 minutes on it TODAY!  Don’t think about it as a whole big project…just get started!  Clear one drawer, one shelf, one toy box….  just do something for 10 minutes!

I talk about this as one of my actions in my SERENITY program – how we can feel so overwhelmed with the magnitude of BIG tasks.  So overwhelmed that we just go round and round in circles, never actually getting things done, never actually starting anything and never progressing forwards.  This horrible overwhelm prevents us from progressing forwards.  It clutters up our heads with “stuff” that we need to get around to.  It holds us back. It keeps us “stuck” in a horrible, unpleasant place.

If you can manage to say to yourself, “I will spend 10 minutes on this task” you are breaking this big, overwhelming job into smaller, DOABLE pieces.  You are getting yourself out of this horrible place of overwhelm and giving yourself a chance to actually get started!

(link to SERENITY is here http://emilyclifford.com/portfolio-item/serenity/)

 

So, the next time you have something to do and you keep putting it off or keeping it for when you think you might have enough time to devote to it,  why not try following the 10 minute rule?

Set your timer and GO!

Get started.

Move forwards.

Stop planning and thinking and start DOING!