It’s not only our Bodies we Need to get Ready Before the Summer
Earlier this month, our very own Kelly Brook set the Internet ablaze after posting a stunning summer bikini picture on Instagram. The shot of the 36-year-old in her Leia Lingerie two-piece was certainly enough to inspire us to start taking steps to ensure we’re beach ready in time for this year’s annual getaway, but it also got us thinking about all the other ways we could be improving our lives this summer.
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Exercise Your Brain
As important as it is to keep our bodies healthy, it’s just as important to ensure our brains are working at full capacity, thereby allowing us to stay alert and focused. There are plenty of ways we can keep our minds stimulated, from doing Sudoku puzzles to playing traditional card games. In fact, a study conducted in 2010 by Dr. Jeffrey Cummings suggested that playing a game like poker twice a week could decrease the risk of developing brain-related diseases associated with ageing by at least 50%. Poker is uniquely challenging, as it’s a game of incomplete information – the strategy involved in poker hones your observational and multitasking skills. Other options that we should play are crossword puzzles, chess and other challenging mind games as these types of activities increase neuroplasticity. This helps your brain stay organised, increases your understanding of cause and effect, and allows you to retain new information.
For those who prefer a more high-tech approach to increased brainpower, certain video and mobile games have also been shown to improve brain function. Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University recruited 52 non-gaming students to play various mobile games, including Zeptolab’s popular app Cut The Rope. After just twenty hours, members of the Cut The Rope group showed a 60% increase in concentration, as well as the ability to move between tasks 33% faster than before. Alternatively, you could keep your brain active by taking up a new instrument, painting, knitting, calligraphy or floristry – it’s truly never too late to learn!
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Fix Your Finances
Another way you can improve your life this summer is by getting your finances in order. Some 8.2 million adults (that’s 16.1% of the population) in the UK have debt problems. If money matters are a source of concern for you or even if you’re just looking to increase your savings, it may well be time to start identifying problem areas and setting achievable goals to get your finances under control.
Financial advisor Martin Lewis suggests we should all try to open a savings account, even now when interest rates are so low. Speaking to the Telegraph, Lewis said people need to learn delayed gratification. He said: “If you spend money once, you can’t spend it again… Buy something small this week or buy nothing, wait a few weeks for the cash to build, and have the big toy that you really want.” If you follow this advice and make a commitment to really start saving, you may even find you’re able to splash out on that summer holiday of a lifetime sooner than you expected. For more tips on the best way to kick-start a saving habit, Lewis’s site Money Saving Expert is packed full of useful financial advice and is well worth a look.
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Summer Clean Your Home
We recently wrote a guide on how to Spring Clean Your Life, including your entire home right down to your wardrobe. If you didn’t quite get round to it in spring, why not make the commitment to spruce up your house this summer? In addition to the satisfaction of having a clean home, a BBC article suggests that cleaning at least once a week can decrease stress and anxiety by 20%.
Make a promise to yourself that next time you have a free day, you will take the time to tidy your house. “Keep only those things that speak to your heart,” Marie Kondo wrote in her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. “Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”
Once the junk is out of the way, it’s time to get cleaning. If you really get into the spirit of things you may even want to try re-arranging furniture or doing those odd DIY jobs you’ve been putting off. The trick is to stop thinking of cleaning as a chore and instead focus on how happy you’ll be once the job is done.
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Refresh Your Friendships
According to a study titled Very Happy People, one of the most common characteristics amongst the happiest 10% of people is the strength of their social relations. But is that the case for you? Unfortunately, as we acquire more responsibilities in life, our friendships can begin to suffer. Work and family commitments often mean friendships are put on the backburner. This summer why not make a conscious effort to reassess your priorities and re-connect with old friends?
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Working on your intellect, finances, home and friendships may well provide your self-esteem with a boost. However, if you still feel like your confidence could do with a helping hand, there are certain simple steps you can take.
The simplest way to increase your confidence is to focus on the positive aspects of your life, with multiple studies promoting positive affirmations. Research published in the Annual Review of Psychology found that students who practised self-affirmations performed better than their counterparts who did not. Positive affirmations can be anything from “I inhale confidence and exhale fear” to “I love myself and allow myself to feel confident”. It all depends on what resonates best with you.
Over time, these positive affirmations will hopefully enable you to build a strong foundation for positive, confident thinking. There are few things more important than self-love, and this summer you deserve to feel good in your own skin. As a wise man once said: love yourself as much as Kanye loves Kanye.