Welcome to spring! With a new season upon us, one focused on renewal, rebirth, and awakening, let us take the time to cleanse our minds and hearts this week.
We often say on HerAfter - or attempt to say, and to stress upon, and to say again - how important it is to accept certain responsibilities in one's life: being your own advocate for success and happiness, being the kind voice in the back of your own mind, undertaking the duty of surrounding yourself with positivity. As we divulge into this new season today, let us take special care to create strong foundations for these responsibilities. It may be easier to leave the dust in the attics in spring, or blame the weather or the bad night's sleep or a coworker who brought the office mood down to a dull hum. But that would be avoiding our potential.
As they say, one must break down to break through. A break down does not always mean crying on the floor hysterically. Sometimes it means breaking down the elemental components of your own life, analyzing and doing any necessary cleaning with the precision of a mechanic's hand on each bolt of the engine.
It is, after all, the budding of spring around us. The trees taking on an angelic white bloom to prepare us for the ballet of color to come. The wind of change blowing in every direction. The soil ripe and fertile and ready for the planting of new projects, new intentions, new phases, which we can especially embrace just after the new moon bid us to do so. Without further ado, let us break down our habits, and break through to a bright and blossoming season ahead.
Four Essential Elements to Cleanse This Spring
Your Daily Routine
Break that down step by step. The daily routine does not start the moment you wake up. It actually starts the moment you go to bed; a great day tomorrow depends on what you do the night before. A good night's sleep will help you feel rested both mentally and physically, ready to take on the office and the gym with equal vigor. Be sure you are honoring your body's time for sleep by whatever means necessary. A sleep mask, a rain song on repeat, and even gentle melatonin can help you fall asleep faster.
Then after waking up, as we've discussed in this article about Becoming a Morning Person, make sure your morning is a routine that sets you up for success. Give yourself enough time so as not to be rushed out the door, as inevitably you will feel rushed the rest of the day. This first intention of the day, the first vibration we send out in to the world is the one that resonates until the day ends. Be sure you are beginning your day in a peaceful mood, and the world will vibrate with you on such a level until bedtime.
Another tip, be sure that you are not filling your morning with negative messages. Don't spend your coffee time dwelling over intimidating meetings to come. Don't stew in the anxiousness or resentment of your office job. You are not a victim of your circumstance, and everything you do to do is absolutely by choice; never forget that.
I find the makeup routine to be a perfect place to instill personal appreciation. We'll be doing a beauty week soon, which will dive into this more, but for now, read this article on the Zen of Makeup and see why a look in the mirror and a loving touch is all you need to see your unique beauty.
Your down time, rest and relaxation
For some reason, we've developed a definition of downtime as being synonymous distracted, desensitized, disconnected. Those hours after work when we sit numbly in front of a television screen or computer screen, filling our heads with the drama of unsatisfied characters in fictional stories. How is that supposed to relax us, to watch a married man cheat on his wife with Olivia Pope? Or to watch murder and violence in any other primetime show?
No amount of this will make you actually feel rested, not mentally in any case. But a session with an uplifting book, a few TEDTalks, an hour spent on Brainpickings.org, or just journaling will. The point isn't that you avoid TV. It's that you take your time to rejuvenate to do rejuvenating things. It's important to use this time, when the body and brain are totally exhausted and so totally willing to absorb anything like a sponge, to put something good in front of them. Tea instead of chips. A Marianne Williamson lecture - which are available online! - instead of Empire. A bath instead of scrolls down your ex's Facebook. Whatever it is, if the answer to the question "is this good for me?" isn't yes, don't do it.
Your thought process and motivation
Everything we do in life has a 'because' to it. We eat because we want to survive. We work because we have bills. We love because it feels good. We workout because...well...bikinis. In any case, every action has a reasoning to go with it, but it's important how we define the basis of such reasoning.
Take this example: you are out to happy hour with friends after a particularly stressing day at work. After a glass or two of wine, you start to feel hungry, and though you hadn't planned on eating dinner out, everyone agrees to order. You have the option of indulging in the Mac and Cheese and Truffle Fries that are on everyone else's wants, or ordering something healthier.
The reasons behind what you do in this moment will follow one of two paths: it will look to the past, or it will look to the future.
If your 'because' is looking backward, it will tell you that you've had a bad day, that you deserve a reward (another issue we talk about in this article about healthy eating and the myth of food as reward), and that you need the emotional comfort because of everything that has already happened.
If your 'because' is looking forward, it will tell you that you don't want the guilt or inevitable stomach ache of inhaling a bowl of cheese noodles, and how terrible it will make you feel tomorrow. It will tell you that what you don't want is to sit and justify negative things that have happened in the past, things that are over now and that have no control over you in the present, and that what you do want is to prepare for a better tomorrow, to feel healthy and good, and to move forward. In other words, it will tell you that what is best for you is the Kale salad.
We cannot stop the cycle of because-reasoning behind our actions, but we can direct it in a way that is positive, constructive, and forward focused, so that it takes us where we want to go, instead of trying to solve problems of a non-existent time: the past.
'Because' reasoning that looks forward is a step toward where you want to go. Because reasoning that looks behind is a constant reaction that keeps us continually facing backward.
Your seeds of Intention
Sometimes we begin projects with the best of intentions, and end up being dragged down by them, frustrated with our own self-imposed responsibilities. What seeds did you sew in the past seasons that no longer suit your purpose of moving forward? What seeds and intentions should you sew today in order to reap a better crop tomorrow?
These seeds come in many forms. They come in the form of thoughts. They come in the form of social activities, of friends, of projects in and outside of work. The come in the form of what we want to do and where we want to go.
It is ok to let go of any project or responsibility that is no longer healthy for you. Is an unreasonable standard you've set for yourself only making you feel guilty? Is a commitment, like a book club or a weekly happy hour, no longer bringing you joy but instead bringing you angst or anger?
Now is the time to till the soil of your intentions and actions, and come face to face with any responsibilities that are not allowing you to be your best self.
Rachael Yahne is an award winning blogger, writer and cancer survivor. After years as a fashion journalist, she now writes lifestyle articles about purpose, passion, well-being and asking life's biggest questions. You can catch up with her on Twitter ( @RachaelYahne ) and read more of her work at HerAfter.com
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