Stuck in a rut with your relationship, job, diet or the way you feel about yourself? Our top expert tips will help kickstart your happiness
By Natalie Cornish
and Sarah Holmes
What is it about September and that sense of new beginnings? It’s as if there’s something in the autumn air that motivates us to start anew, even if we’re not sure what that means yet!
Psychologists call this the Beginner’s Mind, and it’s a powerful zen state that allows your mind to open up to all sorts of possibilities. Of course, it’s great while it lasts. But as the hustle and bustle of modern life sets in, it can be easy to lose track of our great expectations and before long we find ourselves stuck in the daily rut again.
But not this September. Keep your Beginner’s Mind ticking over until Christmas with just a few simple life changes. Who knows what you could achieve!
Get out of that relationship, job, diet or self-esteem rut, stop feeling overwhelmed and start living the life you want again. Find out how with these easy steps…
The beauty about Beginner's Mind is that it doesn't carry any prejudices. It's open to all possibilities and only responds according to the circumstances, not how it assumes things should go.
This is a valuable lesson when it comes to learning. It can be frustrating when you think you should be progressing faster than you are. Instead of concentrating on where you think you should be, concentrate on your next step and nothing else. Enjoy the experience for what it is - and don't get bogged down in the overall picture.
That doesn't mean we should disregard our experience, instead apply it to each new experience.
Giving something back is so important, regardless of your profession or job title. Most large companies run mentoring schemes with local schools or universities to give their students an opportunity to experience their chosen field. If your employer doesn't have one in place, then set up your own link. Mentoring doesn't have to take up too much of your time. A supportive email or phone call, or quick coffee once a month, is usually all that is asked of you. In return, you'll be passing on your knowledge, providing a positive role model and developing new skills too.
When you're unhappy at work, everything else ends up suffering. Doing something you love in the evenings is one way of making the 9 to 5 much more bearable. Boost your skill set by signing up for an evening class, like that language you've always wanted to learn or an interior design course. It might even give you the confidence to take your talents one step further and work for yourself.
Take care of your mental wellbeing by setting some time aside each week for a yoga class or a little meditation. The calming breathing techniques involved in both will really help beat stress and alleviate anxiety.
All relationships have their ups and downs. Give yours the attention it deserves by organising regular date nights where you can spend quality time together. Small things like really listening to each other can make that bond much stronger. Get in to the habit of talking to each other while you're making dinner - or before lights out - good communication (and never going to sleep on an argument) makes for a happy partnership.
Before handing in your notice, explore all the options available in your current role. A sabbatical in another department or location might make all the difference. Talk to HR about what's on offer. Make sure you keep on top of your personal development at work too. Attending that lunchtime refresher class might be the ticket to a promotion.
No-one feels positive all the time, but constant negativity will only bring you down. Research suggests spending too much time on Twitter and Facebook increases anxiety, especially if you find yourself comparing your life to that of other people. Remember that online personas are usually far from the truth.
Too often as women we shy away from making a big deal of our achievements, and that results in being overlooked at work. Keeping your CV up to date is such a confidence booster. When you're faced with a tricky task - or considering putting yourself forward for that promotion - open it to remind yourself just how far you've come. Celebrate your achievements too. You're talented, very able and have so much revelant experience - go tell the world!
Can't remember the last time you truly got away from it all? Then it's time for a little adventure. Escape somewhere exotic for a week or two, and don't just lie on the beach. Get involved in conservation work or island-hop with your backpack. You'll return feeling energised.
Yes, life can be unpredictable but there's nothing to fear! Think back to all the dreams you had when you were eighteen, when anything seemed possible. It's only fear (and often a lack of self-belief) that's stopping you from feeling that way now. Looking to people who have achieved your ambitions already is a great way to prove to yourself that you can do it too!
A bath with your favourite book, a glass of wine and some candles; a long walk in the countryside; good food with friends on a Friday night - there's no need to spend lots of money on pampering or expensive evenings out when small treats will give you the life-affirming lift you need.
Stop yo-yo dieting now by taking control of what you eat. Keep an honest food diary for a week, writing down everything that you eat and drink. By the end of it you should be able to see where you're wasting those calories.
It's not just what you're eating but how much. Portion size is a very individual thing. Cupping your hands together like the picture is the easiest way to work out how big your meals should be. Build up your plate from the bottom, starting with lean protein (like chicken or fish) then complex carbs (brown rice, potato) followed by plenty of fresh produce.
Switch up your exercise routine to suit your life, rather than seeing that workout as a chore. If you're an early bird, go for that run or head to the gym before work. At your best at lunchtime or after 7pm? Then get active then. Try to mix up your what you're doing too so you don't get bored. Combine cardio activities (running, swimming, high impact exercise like a spin or zumba class) with toning exercises for a complete body workout.
Private healthcare companies offer pricey medical assessments, but most of the time the lifestyle and diet advice you end up with is just common sense. Keeping up to date with important medical appointments - like that smear test, breast screening, eye test or dental hygienist appointment - and speaking to your doctor if you feel run down is the best way to stay healthy. Ask for a medicine review every six months too. You may be taking more tablets than you need.
When was the last time you laughed until you cried with your best friends? More than a month ago? Get regular catch-ups in the diary now. Organise a weekend away together if a mid-week dinner isn't an option. Don't let life get in the way.
Feeling good about yourself starts with one person - you. Stop being so hard on yourself, and start celebrating all the talents, personality traits and achievements that make you a beautiful person. Nobody is perfect and that's okay!
And 'no' when you need to. Know your mind - if something feels right it's worth pursuing, but equally if you're not comfortable then stay true to yourself and say so. This applies to all areas of your life. By being open to new opportunites as they arise, life will instantly become more fun and spontaneous.
Stimulate your brain by constantly learning new things. Pick up a book that you wouldn't normally chose, watch that documentary series or teach yourself to cook a new dish at least once a week.
Sex can become stale unless you mix things up a bit. Push your boundaries by trying a new (enjoyable) position tonight. Set the mood beforehand - send a flirtatious text message on your way home, put on your favourite lingerie then go to bed an hour earlier. You'll both wake up with a smile on your face.
Stop dwelling on the past or worrying about what lies ahead. Ground yourself in the present by savouring what is happening right now. What can you smell or see? How does that make you feel? Do this three times every day during activities you enjoy.