This is our Day 3 in a series of blog posts celebrating Helen Russell’s new book LEAP YEAR. Helen is the author of the bestselling The Year of Living Danishly (and the person who brought hygge to the UK!) – but her new book tackles a much bigger topic: when so many of us are filled with indecision and fear of change, what can we actually do to change our lives for the better, and for good?

We’ve been conducting our own experiments in-house, road-testing the theories from the book, and improving our own lives along the way. In today’s blog, Assistant Editor Becky focuses on her mental health…

I pay a lot of attention to how my body feels and notice when something isn’t right: I feel tired, I have a headache, I hurt my leg while out training for that half marathon (whose idea was that anyway?). But when I got to the ‘Mind’ chapter of LEAP YEAR, I suddenly realised that I spend a lot less time thinking about my mental health. And it’s really something we should be thinking about a lot more than we do.

I sometimes feel a little anxious, a little jittery, a little stressed. I could sleep better. As I read, I realised I wanted to change all that. I didn’t want to feel anxious and jittery and stressed. I wanted a solid 8 hours uninterrupted sleep and I was enthusiastic about trying Helen’s techniques – and the things that appealed most were meditation, and spending less time on social media. I thought ten minutes spent sitting in quiet contemplation a day wouldn’t be taxing, and staying off social media after 8 p.m. would actually be a pleasure.

It helped that I’d just come back from a holiday to Cuba where internet is almost non-existent and where my phone couldn’t even get signal for half the holiday. Did I miss not being on it, did I miss out on any crucial news while I was away from Facebook and Twitter? No. In fact, I didn’t miss out on anything and I didn’t miss it at all. But when I came back home I was right back on my phone, wasting my time, scrolling away. But I knew I could do it and this experiment gave me the incentive to not be on my phone before bed or first thing after waking up. I’ve found that I’m happier the less time I spend online.

As for the meditation side of things, the only prior experience I’d had of this was when, at the end of a particularly hard yoga class, we lay down on our backs and our teacher asked us to meditate on what it would be like to be an amoeba. Obviously it wasn’t the best of starts. But a few minutes of quiet contemplation? That’s actually been quite nice amongst the hectic pre-Christmas mayhem. I’ve only been doing it for a few days but I already feel calmer. I think it’s easier to stick with a new resolution when you don’t make it at the start of a new year and this will certainly be one I’ll be keeping.

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