Don’t make a resolution: do something fun instead

It’s a New Year and for many, a fresh start. You’ve read the articles on how to make effective resolutions and vowed to lose 10kg, be healthier or tidier around the house. But what about making promises to yourself about things you actually want to do? Not what you think you should do but what will make you feel good?

Instead of making resolutions I won’t keep, I’ve decided to give myself permission to do the following things this year.

Write letters

I used to send a lot of letters to my pen-pals. I collected them like stamps with a handful in Australia, in the US and across Europe. I used to include little stickers and photos. I would clumsily translate English into German using a phrase book. I even took advantage of this paper friendship and stayed with my German pen-pals on my first trip overseas at the age of 18. They cooked me schnitzel and I went to college with them, ate ice cream and rode bikes. So, this year I will write more correspondence. I’ll write to my grandparents and relatives overseas, and send more cards to friends.

Make more of my own things

I’ve dabbled in DIY before – making my own granola, yoghurt and soda bread. My partner makes salami, capacola and pancetta, pickles and sauce. This year we want to crack making our own bread. Paying $8 for a dense seedy organic loaf now seems a little extravagant but anything else tastes disappointing so we’ll have to make our own. As well as food items I’d like to grow more in my tiny garden and make cleaning products like washing powder.

Go camping

One of my favourite feelings is waking up with the birds at dawn, pulling on a jumper over my pajamas, crawling outside of my two-man tent and sitting in my chair with a cup of coffee. Whether it’s on a site in a caravan park or roughing it in a national park, I always feel calm and relaxed. So this year I want to go away for a couple of long weekend camping trips to experience this feeling again.

My stack of cookbooks just waiting to be used

My stack of cookbooks just waiting to be used.

Use my recipe books

I have a stack of cookbooks and received two more for Christmas. This year I will actually make some recipes from them rather than just looking at the pretty pictures. My partner and I tend to rotate through the same recipes each week and while there is nothing wrong with that, it is always nice to spice things up a bit with some new menu items.

Do more things alone

As an introvert, I quite enjoy my own company. I’m quite content to read for four hours or go for a long walk. But I also enjoy dining alone and going to the movies solo. I’ve dined sans a partner out of necessity when travelling or I’ve done it because I just fancied sitting in a café for a few hours on a drizzly weekend. And going to the movies alone – especially during the day – seems luxurious. So I will give myself permission to do these things more and maybe even add an exhibition to the mix.

What will you do for yourself this year?

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Yes, it’s possible to be mindful on the cheap

It seems the price tag associated with mindfulness is increasing . From $1000 a night meditation retreats to the pressure to wear the latest designer yoga pants, it’s no wonder some dismiss it as something only to be enjoyed by wellness bloggers and celebrities on Instagram. Thankfully, there is a way to reap the benefits without going bankrupt in the process.

Art for the non-artist 

I was born without the artistic gene – I struggle to draw a stick figure, but recently I’ve found my outlet. I received some adult colouring books for my birthday and have since created quite a few masterpieces. Aside from getting you to slow down and focus, it also makes you practice being imperfect (it’s ok to go outside the lines) and to be creative (like giving a person a purple face).

A true masterpiece - right?

A true masterpiece – right?

Two birds, one stone

Sometimes on a packed tram there’s simply no room to pull out your book, and I find constantly scrolling down my Twitter feed makes me scatty and anxious. To try and chill out I’ve begun listening to podcasts. I find I can zone out from the guy coughing up his lung next to me and I sometimes even learn something.

Bend and stretch

I’ve done yoga on and off over the years but I’m no devotee. I’m not a fan of the chanting but I don’t mind the stretching and the excuse to close my eyes for an hour. I’m lucky my work offers yoga at work and I found even one session a week reduces my neck and back issues and stops me from worrying about the small things at work. Oh, and the teacher always reminds me to breathe which can’t be a bad thing.

Get help to stay still

I’d been keen to try meditation but hadn’t got around to it until my partner had trouble sleeping. I downloaded the free Australian-made app, Smiling Mind and we’ve both found it pretty useful with different levels and exercises to try. I find it stops me dwelling on work or the episode of Penny Dreadful I just watched before I head off to bed.

Treat your kitchen as a haven

I’m no gourmet cook but I love to potter around in the kitchen and find it quite soothing. I have a few favourite recipes that I now make most weeks and that I know will turn out ok, including my own yoghurt and granola. I’ve also recently begun making soda bread, using a few different recipes, like this one.

Get your hands dirty

An explosion of weeds in our front garden after a wet winter forced us to finally take the plunge into gardening beyond a few pots of herbs. Weeding is rather therapeutic and digging up deeply-buried roots is a fantastic way to relieve any frustration. Best of all it forced me outside to get some Vitamin D and fresh air.

What’s your favourite way to be mindful?