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This past week of Yoga Holiday With Paul has reminded me how important it is to take small, positive actions every day. The little things we do are what add up to big changes.

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When we try to make a drastic change in our life, whether it’s to do with health, work, relationships, finances, family or anything, we often stumble at the challenge. We try to do too much at once and get overwhelmed; or we set our goals so high we can’t find a way to reach them. Then we get discouraged and frustrated.

To avoid this cycle, and to achieve real change, we need to focus on the things we can do — the manageable, realistic, small-scale stuff.

Here are four areas where small actions can add up to big changes.

Food

You don’t have to go vegan or keto or raw to be healthy. You don’t even have to give up your favourite snacks or your partner’s trademark three-cheese lasagna. You just need to make small changes. Swap butter for olive oil. Use antioxidant-rich cacao to make brownies, instead of sugary chocolate. Drink a cup of tea before bedtime instead of having that nightcap. Swap mince for spiced lentils in that three-cheese lasagna.

Friendship

One of the best things about YHWP is spending a week with warm, wonderful, like-minded people. Humans are naturally social, and friendships sustain our mental and physical wellness. This week, instead of just texting, make time to call a friend and chat. Make a yoga or coffee date with a friend you haven’t seen lately. Send someone a card (in the mail!) just because.

Surroundings

We soak up the atmosphere of the places where spend a lot of time which, for most of us, is home and work. Making small changes to your surroundings can enhance your mood and boost your well-being. De-clutter your desk, buy a new plant for your home, invest in a new duvet before winter arrives, clean out that cupboard you’re afraid to look into. When your space is comfortable, tidy and inviting, you’ll feel more at peace.

Yoga

Take stock of your practice and choose something to work on: breathing, a challenging posture, a favourite posture, meditation. Then, allow yourself the time to make gentle progress. Yoga isn’t a competition sport: enjoy the process of paying close attention to one part of your practice. Study yourself. See how being more open and attentive in one posture influences the rest of your class — and your life.

Read more: 3 steps to yoga as a mental discipline, 3 autumn essential oils