New Rules

While reading this blog post you might want to listen to the song New Rules by Dua Lipa if you haven’t heard it too many times already! It might just get you into the sassy new start mood that I’m trying to convey.

When something bad happen, a lot of people aim to change something about themselves. This is often at the start of the new year or people aim to start something new on a Monday or at the beginning of a new month. I’ve used the start of this new term at uni to make a few changes. Last term was a shambles in many ways; despite getting all my work in on time and getting some good grades I feel that it wasn’t all done in the best state of mind. Really, it was my mind that was a shambles; I was never in control of my emotions leading to crying on a night out for no reason, arriving at study sessions more flustered than a headless chicken, not leaving the house for a few days, feeling too busy to see people and a whole host of other things that meant I wasn’t a happy person. I’m convinced that this is all because doing a masters is so devoid of structure that my mind was constantly trying to work out what I should be doing and if I was doing it right! My brain was a constant chatter of activity which left me unable to sleep well and I know that I’m the worst person to be around when I’m tired!

I was lucky that I had a skiing holiday lined up at the end of last term and it helped me to put the previous three months in perspective. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion that I needed to change something, or a few things as it turned out, and I made this list of new rules that I had to follow if I was to stay sane and healthy!

  1. Go for a walk at least once a week
  2. No scrolling after 7.30pm and no phone after 10.30pm
  3. Read before you go to bed
  4. Go to bed by 11pm
  5. Take a vitamin D every day
  6. Go and socialise when you feel down
  7. Put £1 in a pot whenever you want to eat chocolate
  8. Do self- hypnosis at least once a week
  9. Set realistic goals every day
  10. Volunteer at least once a month

I will now explain these rules so that they don’t seem so random!

  1. Go for a walk at least once a week

Not only does a walk give me the chance to get out of the house and get some fresh air, it also gives me some space to take my camera and do some photography on the way! It doesn’t have to be a long walk, I’m lucky that there is a very large park with great views and open spaces really close to me! I could dedicate a whole day to this walk as a day off or just pop off for a couple of hours. My housemates also like going on walks so sometimes I have some company and we can all chat about random things that are on our minds.

  1. No scrolling after 7.30pm and no phone after 10.30pm

I know that I am prone to scrolling through social media too much and it wastes so much time that could be spent doing something productive like knitting! Also, evenings are when I spend time with my housemates; why would I want to scroll through social media when I could be talking to them and hearing about their day?!

I read somewhere that using your phone after a certain time at night or too close to bedtime stimulates your mind too much and stops you sleeping well. Don’t quote me on that though! Also, anything that comes onto my phone past 10.30pm can wait until the morning and all my friends know that I would never intentionally ignore them if I didn’t reply until the morning.

  1. Read before you go to bed

Keeping on the bed theme, I know that reading helps me to clear my mind and focus on a fictional world that doesn’t involve anything to do with me. I love immersing myself in a good story and I know that reading is many people’s answer to escaping their own world!

  1. Go to bed by 11pm

This is a really important rule for me because when I don’t get enough sleep I am the human equivalent of grumpy cat. Not something that I want to inflict on my lovely housemates! I aspire to wake up at 7.30am every day but I can only do that if I go to bed at a reasonable hour and 11pm means that my essential 8 or 9 hours of sleep will lead me to get up at 7 or 8am at least!

  1. Take vitamin D every day

In some group work that we did on dementia, an expert that we talked to said that being deficient in vitamin D was a factor in developing dementia. If that’s not enough, my mum showed me a Good Housekeeping article that said being deficient in vitamin D gave women an increased risk of getting breast cancer! Still not enough? Vitamin D is good for your immune system, bone health and also improving your mood! Taking a tiny vitamin D tablet every morning suddenly seems like a no brainer and something that everyone can do!

  1. Go and socialise when you feel down

This rule stems from another thing that I read in Good Housekeeping, and it makes sense really! I used to hide myself away when I was feeling down because I didn’t want people to see me upset and angry but this just makes me wallow in a pit of my own poisonous thoughts and self- pity. The article that I read encouraged me to go and find people to socialise with when I felt sad and the first time I tried this I was astounded that my frown was turned upside down in a matter of seconds! Of course it’s alright to feel down; I wrote a blog post called It’s OK Not to be OK about how I need to start admitting to myself and other people when I feel down and deal with it rationally! My friends help me to put that sadness in perspective though and just talking about random nonsense makes you forget why you were upset in the first place!

  1. Put £1 in a pot whenever you want to eat chocolate

This is mainly to stop me linking chocolate with happiness as well as trying to be healthier and make me realise how much I can save when I don’t eat it! Unfortunately I am still prone to spots despite being 22 and I know that eating sugary foods really makes me break out!

I actually put pennies in a pot so that my pounds stay in my account and pay my bills but the effect is the same, at the end of this term I’ll hopefully look in that pot, find at least a fiver and go and buy myself something nice.

I do have to make sure that I don’t just start putting pennies in the pot because I want to save up for something; that would be cheating. I may not end up with much in the pot as I start training myself to be healthy but that’s not a bad thing; the savings will still be there but not represented so literally!

  1. Do self- hypnosis at least once a week

My dad is a hypnotherapist and an amazing one at that! I read some of his testimonials and he’s truly changed people’s lives in the most positive way possible. He’s helped me to tackle some issues that I thought I would never get over and I eventually agreed to learn self- hypnosis. It took about half an hour to learn but even after that short amount of time I realised that I’d learnt to literally switch off my thoughts and just relax in a comforting blanket of silence. The only word I can use to describe the feeling is bliss and doing self- hypnosis at least once a week will definitely keep my head straight. It might also mean that I have less of a need for my countless chilled playlists for relaxation.

  1. Set realistic goals every day

This comes back to the issue of structure. My masters is very self- led with only a handful of lectures that amount to a tiny number of contact hours. Yet this doesn’t mean that I have nothing to do, on the contrary, a deadline is always no more than a couple of weeks away and I often feel overloaded!

A few years ago, while I was doing my degree, I started writing down all my deadlines and events on calendars that I stick up in my room. I also have a diary that acts a portable version of these calendars and I almost feel lost without it. Writing these things down helps me to visualise how much time I have to complete everything but up until now I still had no structured way to meet these deadlines.

Now I have a great tactic; every day I write my goals for the day on a post- it note. These goals are plucked from my digital to do list which I wrote about in Making a List and Checking It Twice and makes sure that I don’t neglect things that need doing. It also makes sure that I don’t overload myself with too much to do in one day. If I complete all my goals early it means that I can either have the rest of the day free or make some more goals.

At the end of the day, there is nothing more satisfying than crossing things off on a list and it definitely makes me feel like I’ve achieved something every day!

  1. Volunteer at least once a month

I love volunteering and giving some of my time to We The Curious gives me a great feeling when I’m helping young people get involved with science. Volunteering was also recommended in a Good Housekeeping article that I read; apparently giving your time and doing something that you love while helping others is a recipe for good mental health. I can definitely see why; as well as feeling elated after helping to run a workshop, I have so many stories to tell people afterwards which helps me to share my experience and spread the happiness I’m feeling!

There you have it; my new rules. They are currently written on post it notes that I’ve stuck around my room to remind myself what they are and means that they’re not hiding on a digital note in my computer!

Do you have any rules that you stick to? Let me know in the comments!

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