It’s a really nice feeling to be able to say you’re in the best mental state you’ve ever been in.

If any of you aren’t feeling great with life as of late, here are some helpful changes I’ve made to my own that I think would work wonders for you too:

Keep a gratitude diary.

Lots of us are too focused on what we don’t have, that we fail to be grateful for what we do. Practising gratitude is one of the best ways to boost your happiness. For the past while I’ve kept a gratitude diary, in which every night I write a list of things in my life I am grateful for. I find the routine of doing this before I go to bed a serene way to end the day and a nice note to go to sleep on. The idea is that being grateful for what you already have attracts more good into your life, and increases your happiness. Plus, if you’re familiar with the Law Of Attraction, you’ll know that you can also list things you want but don’t have yet, and the feeling of already having them and feeling grateful for them will speed up their manifestation. There are many more benefits practising gratitude has on health and mental well being that you can read about here.

Meditate for ten minutes each day.
If you frequently feel overwhelmed and wish you had a way to clear your mind and recenter yourself, then meditation is the way to go. I think some people think meditation is just another way for people to boast about their new-age hipster lifestyle (Yah, yah I meditate for 4-5 hours each day and don’t eat any food that casts a shadow) and so are put off by the ‘holier than thou’ aspect of it, but it’s something that is accessible to literally anyone. Meditation has countless benefits, especially for keeping anxiety and depression in check, but it’s also essential for success. If you do a little research you will find most mega successful individuals will, without a doubt, have a routine that includes meditating. We all have a higher purpose to connect with and the infinite knowledge of the Universe to derive creativity and answers from, all we have to do is close our eyes and breathe deeply. I set a timer on my phone for ten minutes and focus on a positive mantra, or visualise myself achieving goals I have set, and when my timer goes off I feel revitalised, motivated and at peace. If you’re new to meditation and would prefer to listen a guided one, you can get a free trial of Headspace, which is an amazing resource. Try incorporating meditation into your daily routine and see how it positively affects your life.

Sack off your social media accounts for a while if you want to achieve anything
I am not a fan of social media for so many reasons. For me it’s the absolute antithesis to productivity. An all too common misconception these days is that your social media following is “everything”, especially on platforms like Instagram. When really, who actually gives a shit? What is the point in having a social media following if you’re too busy obsessing over followers and posts and attention and gratification to create or do anything worthwhile? Don’t waste time chasing after pointless validation and forgetting about your goals in the process.  Someone with 100k followers who just posts photos and doesn’t do.. anything, may seem impressive but what substance does that have when you break it down, really? Everyone is a social media influencer these days, I feel like social media influencers are going to have to unionise.  Wow you sure do look awesome in your unsustainable fast fashion Boohoo dress/shirt that’s gonna end up back on landfill in the country it was produced in, thanks for sharing! How about being an … influencer for your art or your talents or your work or business instead? If you’re too wrapped up in the endless scroll of what other people are doing with their lives, you’ll always be behind making progress in your own. There’s no harm in deactivating your social media accounts to work on whatever it is you’ve been telling yourself you would for ages. The World will keep turning, you won’t miss anything, trust me. If you put the energy into your creative (or otherwise) endeavours now and produce something to be proud of, then you don’t need to spend as much time chasing a following as people will just find you organically, no matter what.  I understand having a social media presence is necessary as part of having a brand, but most successful people don’t even touch their own social media accounts with a bargepole, they have social media managers to run those accounts for them, while they work on their goals. Now that’s smart. Aim for that.

Don’t overload yourself paying attention to negative news
When people find out Steve or I don’t watch the news, they usually respond with something like “What?? You can’t not know what’s going on in the World!” as if by choosing to avoid the news it makes you an ignorant, uncaring person. Here’s a revelation, you can stop paying attention to the negative news and control what you see. When something bad happens in the World people think that they need to post about it, they need to pay attention to it, they need to spend hours looking at articles and graphic pictures and twitter hashtags and news footage, as if by doing that it somehow means they care. I used to be one of those people, and it was awful. There’s nothing to heighten your anxiety like seeing or hearing something really morbid on the news you wish you hadn’t, that then replays in your head again for days. Older generations are especially stubborn about how important it is to pay attention to the news, when really, news in today’s World is nothing like news back when they were young. It seems the media today will go for the most harrowing photo, the most forceful headline by default; it’s all about the shock factor. They wouldn’t dare show the images they show on today’s news back in the 90’s and early 00’s. Can you imagine if 9/11 happened now? How graphic and haunting the news coverage would be? Over the past couple of years we’ve been exposed to some of the worst images imaginable; this kind of ‘morbidity news porn’ is so prevalent and forced into our psyche daily that we’re almost desensitised to it now, and even worse, we all just accept it as normal. It’s not normal. I will never forget going into a petrol station last year and seeing a photo of the murdered Reeva Steenkamp’s bloodied face post-shooting printed on the front page of a tabloid newspaper; at an eye level for all to see, even children. I was so irate such a violent image had made it’s way into my conscious without my consent; all I had to do was glance in the wrong direction and I saw another awful image that would no doubt stick with me for years. News could be a force of positivity, but these days all it does is perpetuate fear and hate. Paying undivided attention to all of the bad things that happen on a daily basis won’t stop them from happening. Most news is designed to keep your fearful, and if people were less fearful they would have more headspace to do the things that will make a change in the World. When bad things happen you can feel so helpless, but all you can do is focus on being a good person yourself, being a force for good and working hard so that you are in a position to give back and make a positive change in the World. That’s my opinion. Any negative media you pay attention to will only hinder you completing your goals, demotivate you and keep your living in fear. I’m not denying these things are happening but I’m focusing on being a force for change and good in the World instead of living in fear, glued to a screen. Yes the World can be a terrible place, but there are plenty of good things that happen in the World too that just aren’t prioritised to be reported on by the mainstream media. If the news was balanced, things wouldn’t seem so bad, but it’s not.

There are obviously things I’m always going to pay attention to, like the Repeal The 8th campaign, but I get the Abortion Rights Campaign newsletter emailed to me to keep me up to date. I control what news I see, I don’t seek out negative news and read it because I think that’s what you have to do. If something really important happens you will hear about it, so don’t overload yourself paying attention to negative news 24/7. There is still so much good in the World. Things aren’t that bad. Do yourself a favour, don’t seek out and pay attention to negative news all of the time and focus more on being a force of positivity yourself. I guarantee you will be happier.

Stop eating shit food, mainly sugar.
This seems like such a no-brainer, but I never truly understood just how bad sugar, namely fructose, was until I watched That Sugar Film, a documentary by a filmmaker called Damon Gameau. He documents the effects of eating a high sugar diet (40 teaspoons a day, the average amount an adult now consumes daily) but he only allows himself to hit this mark by eating foods that have been marketed as “healthy” to consumers – when actually they’re full of sugar. Don’t get me wrong, I love sugar. Like LOVE it. I would go as far as to say I am addicted to it, just like the majority of the rest of the World. But it’s really, really, really bad for you. Back in the 90’s fat was seen as the enemy, and people went crazy for “low fat” products, when in reality fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does. Did you know skimmed milk is just milk with the fat taken out of it and has far more sugar in it? Anything that is marked as “low fat” i.e yoghurts, will have usually sugar added to them to compensate for taste, and that’s what will make you fat. It’s outrageous. It’s only in recent years people are realising how detrimental sugar is to our bodies, and how it is added to literally everything. Sugar has been proven to be as addictive as cocaine. It’s vast list of diseases and side effects it causes is too extensive for me to even list, but includes increased risk of cancer, premature ageing, tooth decay, migraines, depression, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, digestive trouble, heart disease, impaired memory and brain function, suppression of your immune system and so, so much more. The whole point is that sugar is in things you wouldn’t even expect it to be in, so you are consuming huge amounts without even realising. A handy reminder is that 4g of sugar = 1 teaspoon. Remember this the next time you’re reading a nutritional label and you’ll be able to visualise the sugar content in teaspoons, then feel indignant at how much sugar companies add to the food you eat. When I used to consume a lot of sugar in my diet, I had digestion problems, night terrors, anxiety, lethargy and trouble concentrating on anything. Being mindful about what I eat and how much sugar I consume has meant all of those negative side effects have disappeared and I’m more clear minded and productive than ever. I’m much happier off spacing out some squares of Lindt 85% dark chocolate over a week, which has just under 3 teaspoons of sugar in an 100g bar, than I am eating an 100g bar of Milka a few times a week (which I would totally have done in the past) that has 14.5 teaspoons. Can you imagine eating 14 teaspoons of sugar in one sitting, just shoveling them into you mouth? Ugh. Watch That Sugar Film, try drastically reducing your sugar intake, overcome the withdrawals and see how much it benefits your body and mind.

Read this book (for free).
The Rise Of The Chosen Ones by Joseph C Parker is an amazing read. If you’re feeling unmotivated and unworthy, but know you would be capable of great things if only you had the self confidence, then give this a read. There’s such a common misconception that only a certain amount of people are chosen for greatness in life; “lucky” people, when really it is up to you to ‘choose’ yourself. I had no idea what ‘limiting beliefs’ were before I read this book, but finding out that your own beliefs will control everything you ever do in life was a huge revelation for me. Any negative limiting beliefs you believe about yourself will always hold you back, so it’s hugely important to overcome them so you can achieve your dreams. There’s a huge amount of helpful information in this book, and without sounding cheesy (but definitely sounding cheesy) reading it changed my life. I think it could be a huge help to you too, if you so need it. The best thing is you can sign up for a free 30 day S’cribd trial (it’s like a Spotify for books) and read it on there for free! Score.

Stop the negative self talk, Invest in your self-belief and see aspects of your life begin to grow in ways you could never have imagined. This is your year if you want it to be.

– Aisling Abbey