10 Ways To A More Positive Life

For the first time in ages it really does feel like a fog has lifted. I found enthusiasm that I haven't had for years and it's finally starting to set in. I won't lie, it still isn't perfect but I'll get there soon. The urge to come home and stop doing things is still strong, but if I keep setting targets I'll soon get into the swing of things. Little steps.

I tried what felt like everything to bring myself out of the fog. It's easier to see it all now that I'm closer to the horizon, but really what it needed was a little bit of everything.

So here are my 10 suggestions to turning things around, hopefully you'll find something that will work for you.

1] Treat yourself right


Now most things I have read say "exercise... diet... blah blah blah". I can't deny those will work, but when you're low that level of commitment to something isn't always possible. I will cover food and exercise in a bit, but this time "treat yourself right" means just that.

So much of my time was spent thinking the worst of everything, sometimes it WAS the worst, but the little things didn't need to be. Once a week I'd treat myself to something, a meal out, a new top, cooking myself something luxurious and wasteful. Just one thing a week that took me out of the monotony. I could spend a couple of hours people watching, have the comfort of wearing the new top or the satisfaction of cooking a wonderful new meal.

Different things comfort different people. All I can say is "you'll know it when you see it". You might not think anything is worth it, but keep watch, something will call out to you.

2] Do things that make you feel good


Again, another very personal thing, but one that helped me grab little bits of my days back.

On my way to work there was a short cut, if I took it I was surrounded by high rise buildings and suspicious looking cars, it wasn't exactly the stress free walk you'd hope for first thing in the morning but it cut about 10 minutes off the walk. If I went the long way I got to walk by a church, dirt covered from the traffic but surrounded in beautiful stone carvings. Every morning you could spot a different detail. In the afternoons on my way home the green lawn would have a little group of crows tapping to bring up the worms. Simple things like that really can put a little lift in your day.

If there's somewhere that makes you smile, go there if you can. It might be simply getting a pastry from a bakery in the morning, Again, you'll know it when it happens, for that moment you'll feel a flutter, like you're remembering something you've forgotten that you had in your life.

3] Achieve things


I know, I know, don't shoot the messenger. How is it possible to achieve things when even getting out of bed some days is difficult.

Don't think big.

I know it's contrary to everything we're taught, "go big or go home", but in this case start small. There's no point trying to achieve massive things when you don't think you can. The knock you'll get from not finishing it sometimes isn't worth the risk. I'm not saying don't try, I'm saying set achievable targets.

Lets say you want to clear out your bedroom. As a general task it can be really massive. Break each task down into single things...
  1. Empty washing bin.
  2. Change bed clothes.
  3. Put away clothes.
  4. Tidy dressing table.
  5. Dust.
  6. Hoover
Make a list of all the things that need to be done to achieve the whole... and do what you can.

Finishing three small things is a lot more satisfying and mentally rewarding than not finishing one big thing. After all, at the end of the day which would you rather be saying... "I achieved three things today." or "I didn't achieve a single thing today"? 

4] Go out


I'm not saying you have to be a party animal, after all, sometimes people can leave you panicked. I'm saying don't stay cooped up. I'm the worst at this, I work from about 7am until 4pm, and after that I'd come home and stay home. Before I moved this was black hole number one for me. I basically spent my time at work or in a pokey flat.

My only saving grace was that because I got a monthly bus pass I could go anywhere I fancied. Nothing exotic is an option on the buses round my way, but every Saturday I'd go into town first thing. Sometimes I had a purpose, other times it would just be to wander around. But it was still out. I lived here for about 7 months and in all that time the only place I "explored" was the centre of town, but at the time that was the best I could do, Now though that little area is expanding, and it expands every time I go out.

Today Bristol, tomorrow the world... maybe not just yet, but some day.

5] Friends


Again this one will be slightly different for everyone, I'll tell you my view on it and you can make your own decision.

For me friends was a real tough one, I moved away from home to a place where I didn't know anyone. My friends reminded me of home, which just made me sad to think about. I withdrew from a lot of them and only really saw, and spoke to them when I went home.

I have a friend who I can just talk to about absolutely nothing. Daft as it sounds, we can talk about seemingly nothing for hours at a time. And that was what helped, I didn't have to talk about how I was feeling if I didn't want to, but someone was there. It was comforting. just to waffle at someone.

I didn't go into any detail about what I was going through with my friends, right or wrong I won't ever know, but I do know that those chats got me through some bad days. The easiest thing to say is that however you feel like having them in your life, it is a fact that they'll help in whatever way you choose.

6] Stick to a routine


Don't go making a second by second daily calendar, that could be just as bad for you as no routine.

I have a set time to get up which if I stick too means a hassle free journey to work. It makes sense that I keep to that time. I go for lunch at 12. I leave the office at 4. I eat around 6. And I try not to go to bed before 9.

Some days those targets are difficult, and getting out of bed is the biggest achievement.

But if you hit that first target time your day is already off to a fantastic start. And if you don't hit it you just need to try and get as close to it as you can. Don't penalise yourself for fluffing it a bit, you're doing your best.

7] Sleep right


Another one that is easier said than done. I feel like a child sometimes imposing a bedtime... but it is a reverse bedtime so I'm probably okay.

If I get home and I've got nothing to do there's that moment when I think I could just get into bed. Keys to stay awake are easy to know, difficult to follow.
  1. Don't take your outdoor shoes off. Slippers = relaxing, day is done. Outdoor shoes = I'm doing things.
  2. If you feel like you need to change clothes, don't put on your pyjamas. That relaxed feeling will make you want to end the day there.
  3. When you get in, do things. My Achilles heel is getting in and sitting down, it leads me to a whole evening of inactivity. Leave things to do when you get in, washing up, put the bins out, arrange a dinner that needs prep. Something to keep you moving.
Everyone gets days where they just have to curl up, a duvet or a blanket on the sofa with a book or a film feels a lot better than laying in bed sleeping when you don't need to.

I'm not going to tell you how much sleep to get, that would be ridiculous, some days I need 8 hours and some days I wake up after 6 feeling like that's enough.

8] Find a soundtrack


You know how people who go to the gym [I know some, they aren't people who I use as role models, that's way too much exercise for my liking] have their workout playlists? It's kind of like that, find your own sound. The worst thing I find are when I'm left in silence without something to do, and for me that was my commute to work. The bus would take about 40 minutes, and the silence [or lack of it] left me with nothing to do but think.

I found the best distraction was my iPod. I went through and made a playlist of all my favourite songs, you know, all those songs that made you want to buy an album. Those songs will all have some kind of happy click for you, and for those 40 minutes... things are a little bit easier. On the good days it's a spring in your step

If you like catchy pop nonsense you should try the Spotify playlist "songs to sing in the shower", it's become my go to listen.

9] Eat right


Here we go, the dreaded food topic. I'm not going to preach. I know next to nothing about nutrition and all the blah associated with it, and you don't need to either. Having a balanced diet is something that needs motivation, there's no point in me listing off some diet tips that in truth will be impossible to stick to every day.

At times I would eat nothing of nutritional value at all. It was more important to me to just be eating. With a corner shop behind my house and a route home that went by a Poundland that meant "instant" food was easy to access. Chocolate, crisps, it really didn't matter. It took a lot of will power to stop.

Don't try and cut it all out, it's too stressful. Just change the way you buy. Instead of buying a big bar of chocolate get a pack of the snack sided bars, Having one small bar a day is much better than having one big bar a day. I ended up portioning the things that became my downfall. Buy small tupperware boxes and make yourself little packs of treats. You can have one of these small tubs a day, whether you spread it out over the day or eat it all in one go is up to you, but you can only have one. Now I have something once or twice a week.

You should eat regularly though [I know, nagging mother mode!], and the easiest way to do that is to batch cook. Make a big pot of chilli or stew and portion it. You can freeze it or you've got meals for a few days. The beauty of this is, if you're having a bad day you've got some food on hand.

10] Ask for help


I can't tell you what the best way to get help is. Some people find their way through doctors, some through taking it one day at a time. There will be someone in your life who will want to help you, you just have to let them.

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I named this post "10 ways to a more positive life", I deliberately left out the word depression. Sometimes you don't realise you're depressed, sometimes you just think it's a funk that you'll get through eventually. Either way I hope these few steps might help someone. Help them to take a first steps towards a fogless future.

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