We all lose our spring at times. Learn to get the most out of your downtime, and you’ll soon be up again, happier and wiser than before.

1. Embrace downtime

In some ways, this is a rare opportunity to stand back from the crazy carousel of life and focus on the now. Forget about how you think you measure up against other people and what you think you ought to be doing, and immerse yourself in the experience of being here, now.

2. Relax. Breathe.

Set time aside each day for meditation or breathing exercises. Interestingly, when we’re happy, our breathing is slow and deep but when we’re anxious, it’s shallow and fast. Sit up straight in a quiet place and practise deep breathing for five minutes, inhaling slowly and deeply, and feeling your lungs emptying as you exhale.

3. Do something different

Never underestimate the power of novelty. Explore an exciting new place or activity, and you could emerge with a fresh take on yourself. What could you do? Go on a pony trekking weekend, or a volunteering holiday to India, or sign up for sculpting classes, or tell a waiter your life story? Consider changing your look to instantly reinvent yourself. If you’re still wearing the same styles you did in your teens, find a picture with a look you like and try it out. Making even subtle changes, such as using bold orange nail polish when you’re normally a natural beige type, can give you an instant lift.

4. Shift your focus

When you direct your attention to the lives and problems of other people, you immediately step out of yourself and into a more open and responsive persona. Have a conversation with a street vendor at the traffic lights and ask where he comes from, where he lives and whether he has children. Reaching out to others puts you in touch with your basic human spirit and makes you feel more alive. Delving into the life of someone less fortunate is a sobering reality check – it helps put your problems in perspective and reminds you of how lucky you are in many ways.

5. Declutter your life

Spring-cleaning a room is a terrific energiser. A tangible way of liberating yourself from old baggage and unwanted junk, a good clear-out gives you a clearer mind, a feeling of achievement, and a sense of having given yourself a fresh start. Go through everything and throw away anything you haven’t used in the past three years. Or make a list of 20 items you no longer need, put them in boxes and deliver them to your local school or charity shop. Repeat to yourself: if in doubt, throw it out.



By spending time with yourself, you can discover who you really are – and then make changes so your outer life reflects your inner self. Ask yourself…

Q. When I’m alone, am I comfortable with who I am? Do I know who the real me is, under my layers of habit and protection?

Q. Deep down, what motivates me to do things? Is it, for example, recognition, money, self-nurturing, the greater good?

Q. Am I really comfortable with the persona I project to the world?

Q. Is my outer persona the real me?

Q. If not, why am I afraid to be the real me? (Being judged? Not being acceptable to certain people?)



Authenticity is being who you really are – not how you wish you were, or how others want you to be.

First ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’ When something’s troubling you, ask, ‘Does this sit comfortably with me?’ If it doesn’t, you’re not being authentic in the situation. Once you’re able to say, truthfully, ‘This is me’ or ‘This isn’t me,’ decisions become much easier. For instance, if you’re secretly no party animal, the authentic you might choose to go to a friend’s birthday party for just an hour, or meet her for tea instead – without feeling guilty.

Once you know your authentic self, you’re able to assess which aspects of your life reflect your true self, and which don’t and need to change.

Ask yourself these questions:

Q. Do I like the space I live in? Is it in harmony with my personal taste?
Q. Do my leisure activities feed my inner self?
Q. Do I like the clothes I wear?
Q. Am I comfortable in my body? Am I happy with its limitations?

Take a few days to think about your answers. You may realise, for instance, that since you’re no longer a wallflower, you might want to start wearing purple, or try tango lessons…

We all have fears, and we sometimes lie to ourselves, and we often struggle to accept who we really are. But your inner wisdom never lies; it tells you who you are and how you can be happy. While you need to strike a balance between focusing on your own well-being and that of others, as long as you’re not violating anyone’s rights, there’s no reason you can’t be the real you.