Three weeks to a new, happy you

Q. Why is it 21 days to a new you?

A. There is substantial scientific evidence that it takes us about three weeks to establish new behaviours or habits. The brain is wonderfully plastic, in that it can learn new information and put down new neural networks in a relatively short space of time. The adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is only true if the dog doesn’t want to learn!

Q. Who needs this book?

A. Anyone who would like to cultivate a really balanced and positive perspective on themselves and their life. Negativity is a disease particularly prevalent in affluent cultures and one that contributes significantly to stress; this book helps you find your own cure.

Q. And why now?

A. Stress is now the number one reason people take time off work. 21 Days to a New You helps you reclaim your life and start prioritising your health and wellbeing without having to compromise on your productivity, efficiency or ambition.

Q. How can a City professional incorporate your advice into their hectic job life?

A. Very easily. You do not need anything other than a genuine desire to improve your life – all you need to want to do is to learn to understand how your mind and body work together with reality. The mind and body can be taught to respond to each other with a profound and life-changing intelligence. All the suggestions can become part of your daily routine, not taking up any more time than you would already be putting in.

Q. From a mental health clinician’s point of view, what are the biggest stressors in professional people’s lives?

A. The greatest stressors of all are when we are in deep conflict with ourselves. It could be that we have failed to honour our integrity in some way, caused distress and unhappiness to a friend or loved one, feel we are less than worthy, that we cannot do our job, or that deep down we feel we are a fraud and will be found out in some way, or we may feel unlovable or that we are a bad person.

Q. When you feel yourself wobbling, what do you do?

A. I make sure I am honouring the basic units of wellbeing. Without adequate sleep, a healthy diet and regular exercise and relaxation all of us will end up with a wobble, it is nature’s way of reminding us to take notice of ourselves and recalibrate. I invest in these basic units of wellbeing on a daily basis – so I start most mornings with some yoga and a ten-minute meditation. I go for a walk most days, even if it is just to buy some milk. I read every evening to feed my soul and I find having a bath very relaxing. I also check in with at least one friend once a day, to feed my friendships, which are vital for wellbeing. And I sing, it makes me feel so happy!

Q. Any suggestions for staying grounded in a period of economic uncertainty and fear?

A. These times are very challenging yet life is supposed to be challenging. When there is so much economic uncertainty it is easy to become panicked and look for quick fixes. Much better to confront reality head on and accept that we need to manage these difficult times rather than fight them. The key is to stay focussed on what is possible rather than obsessing over what is impossible. Blame is also a red herring. The more we blame, the less energy we have to problem solve. Taking responsibility for ourselves will always be the most constructive action possible.

Q. More specifically, how can people handle job loss or redundancy?

A. I have never known an event that at first appears negative not to transform in some way to something positive. It seems that nature demands this equilibrium to take place. Even the worst experiences can be learnt from and I talk about my own personal losses in the book. The loss of a job can on first sight appear devastating. If we do not let that event define us, however, then we have the potential to create an opportunity: an opportunity for growth and development, exploration and adventure. Importantly we can learn to ask for help – never be ashamed to ask for help. It is a mark of courage and intelligence.

Q. What is the relationship between the body and mind – ie, does exercise/yoga really make you happier?

A. Your mind and body need care and nurture in equal proportions. A healthy body is a healthy mind and vice versa. If you dump toxins in your mind, your body will become unsettled and vice versa. Life is all about balance and no more so than with our mind-body.

Q. Can this book help people excel at work?

A. The one great skill to excel in work and in life is to be present. This book shows you how to be present.

Q. What’s the most soothing, grounding thing for you?

A. Being present. When I am present I am in contact with reality in the most enriching and abundant way imaginable. When present I am truly alive, truly at one with my experience and truly at peace with myself. The more present I am the less present my ego is, the less present my ego the more in touch with reality I am.

Q. What’s the best way to improve sleep that’s interrupted or ragged from work worry?

A. Identify your core conflict. If it is not instantly apparent, get help to deconstruct it. The more you understand yourself, the less conflict you will endure, the better you will sleep.

Q. With winter approaching, any tips for staying up-beat?

A. Nature loves balance and when we work with nature, in flow, we too can be in balance. Find fun ways of being outdoors in the winter, and make a virtue of being cosy. Snuggling up on the sofa with a good book or absorbing movie, making thick soups and rich stews, baking and playing in the kitchen are all constructive ways of spending more time indoors. Make love often and as well as or in the absence of someone to love, ensure you see your friends regularly during the winter months as our social networks are vital for our wellbeing. For more info about Cecilia and the book, go to www.drceciliadfelice.com

DR D’FELICE’S TIPS FOR A HEALTHY BODY AND MIND

Exercise at least three times a week.
Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine prior to going to bed.
Stay hydrated.
Make sure your bedroom is around 16 degrees C. Too hot or cold will cause sleep disturbance. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.
Turn lights low at least an hour before bed to stimulate the production of Melatonin, the sleep inducing hormone.
Have a warm bath with some lavender essential oil to stimulate the olfactory bulb in the brain to induce relaxation.
Before bed drink camomile (it contains a natural relaxant) or valerian (a natural hypnotic) tea or have a milky drink, which contains proteins that can be synthesised into serotonin, a feel good hormone useful for sleep and wellbeing generally.
Have a tidy bedroom and clean sheets.
Don’t bring technology into your bedroom! Even the LED on your phone can disturb sleep.
Have a window open.
Read before bed and keep your book by your bed so if you wake and cannot return to sleep, instead of worrying about it, read instead.
Remember that your body will take all the sleep it needs eventually so don’t worry about not getting enough sleep, you will.