As we approach the end of the year, the Casper team asked wellness guru Courtney Love (Bend with Courtney) about how to approach the New Year and its notoriously shaky resolutions. Read on for her advice!
We’ve all done it – made those unrealistic new year resolutions that last for the first couple of days or weeks of January before being long forgotten. Instead of making resolutions that we can’t sustain, let’s work on a mindset shift that will last the duration. Everything starts with your mindset: get your mind under control, and the rest is easy.
So, where do we start?
One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is, ‘I can’t meditate. I can’t shut off my mind.’ There is a common misconception that meditation means we need to learn to completely blank the mind. This is so far from the truth. We are human beings, we have thoughts. It is unrealistic to expect that we can simply shut off.
The goal of meditation isn’t to blank the mind; it is to notice. Notice your thought patterns. Notice where your mind goes when you really tune in and pay attention. When we meditate, we shift out of the subconscious mind and into the conscious mind. It is here where we are most rational. We respond rather than react; we are calmer and more self-aware.
Start with just ten minutes a day. Many people recommend finding a quiet place free from distractions, but I believe turning inward and meditating while surrounded by distractions is extremely powerful. Wherever you are, close your eyes and start focusing on your breath. Focus on the physical sensation of your breath. Check in every once and a while and notice if your mind has wandered off. If it has, gently bring it back to the breath.
Do this a hundred times if you need to. The more you catch yourself, the more you are strengthening the skill of noticing, and this is what meditation is about.
Setting boundaries is extremely uncomfortable. It certainly doesn’t come naturally for most. Many of us have adopted people-pleasing behaviours where we put ourselves second in order to avoid confrontation. In doing so, we leave ourselves emotionally drained and burnt out.
However, you can’t pour from an empty cup; learning to set boundaries is therefore a form of self-respect. Start off slowly. Learn to say no and resist the urge to over-explain yourself (this might already be a habit you didn’t even realise you were doing). Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable and let the feeling pass. It will get easier as time goes on and you will become stronger within yourself.
Health is not just about what you eat and how much you exercise. It’s about what you consume, who you spend your time with, the way you speak to yourself, and the thoughts you allow to take up space within your mind. We underestimate the power of the simple things. If you want to shift your mindset and calm the nervous system, I highly recommend getting into the habit of not checking your phone for an hour when you wake up in the morning.
When we are asleep, our body produces melatonin. When we wake, melatonin levels are still quite high. This is why we often wake up feeling sleepy and even relaxed. When you reach for your phone upon waking, you are subjected to negative news, social media, and emails. Your brain goes from a relaxed state to a frantic state almost instantly.
You will end up being less productive if you begin your day this way. Aim to create a small morning ritual for yourself (and only for yourself!). No phones, no devices, no stress. Allow your body to wake up and really make the most of the day before you let your cortisol levels rise again.
These resolutions aren’t going to be a phase; they will become a part of your life and you will be thankful for your new-found self. If you are in need some more motivation, guidance, or want to reach out to me, you can follow my Instagram page @bendbycourtney.
Here’s to a new you that will last!
Courtney Love is a Sydney-based yoga and meditation instructor who founded Bend by Courtney, a wellness studio that runs events across the city. She offers classes, written and video content, mentoring, and more via her website.
If you liked this article, you might like our feature about Sarah Knight's powerful book on the art of saying 'no'.