How to rewind, reset, and give yourself “permission” in the New Year!
It’s that time of year again! Gym memberships significantly increase, families and individuals adopt healthier food choices, and many homes experience greater organization, cleaning, etc!
But how do we approach the New Year in a way to make fulfilling, sustainable changes?
As January approaches, it’s easy to become overzealous in our quest for personal growth and change; however, as mental health professionals, we’ve found that when individuals set lofty, tough-to-attain goals, the outcome is often feelings of defeat rather than fulfillment.
Here are a couple of recommendations I’d like to offer, in order to help the New Year be one of intention and fulfillment for you.
Start saying NO. In fact, try to say NO to more things (commitments, activities) than you say YES to!
As Dr. Edmund Bourne highlights in The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook,
“Learning to say no requires a willingness to relinquish cherished beliefs about yourself—which can be one of the hardest things for anyone to do. This may involve expanding your identity beyond taking care of others, or taking care of business, and learning to take the time to nurture and attend to your own needs. It means accepting the reality that taking care of yourself—even at the expense of what you do for others—isn’t selfish. Can you really offer your best to others or your work if you are tired, stressed, or burned out?”
Our society today tends to normalize busy-ness…. at times, we may even obtain a significant amount of our self-worth from how full our calendar is. Saying NO may seem strange, awkward, and uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will become! Ask yourself a couple of questions before agreeing to a commitment…. First, is this what’s BEST for me right now? In other words, am I likely to leave this encounter/activity feeling energized, or depleted? Second, am I the best person to carry this out? Stay true to who you are, and how you’re wired. For example, if your child’s school is looking for a volunteer to organize a fundraiser, and you know that you struggle in the areas of project management and philanthropy, saying NO to this will create and offer space for you to do things that align with your temperament and your own personal interests. Too often we agree to things from a sense of guilt or obligation, and in the end, no one wins when these are the motivators. At times, we need to give ourselves permission to say NO.
Another way to say NO is to create a NO-FLY zone for you and/or your family’s schedule. In other words, give yourself a “time-out.” Create some space/margin where you do not schedule anything. Maybe that means staying home on a Saturday morning or taking a raincheck on a dinner invitation. The art of quietness and rest has been lost, as individuals and families today are pulled in so many directions.
Explore a practice such as meditation, mindfulness (check out mindful.org), or yoga to cultivate rest, optimism and intention.
According to the Mayo Clinic, learning relaxation techniques has many health benefits, including improving concentration and mood, improving quality of sleep, lowering blood pressure, improving digestion and maintaining normal blood sugar levels!
Practicing gratitude is another powerful factor in helping to alleviate stress. According to Harvard Medical School, practicing gratitude has consistently shown a correlation with greater feelings of happiness, ability to deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. Cultivating gratitude can be done by keeping a gratitude journal, creating a gratitude jar, praying, and thanking individuals who’ve offered help and support.
Consider investing in yourself with counseling and/or health coaching!
The road to self-care and personal growth can be lonely and challenging. The staff at Health for Life GR would be honored to partner with you in your personal, relational and health & wellness goals! In fact, Health For Life Grand Rapids’ Health Coach, Jen Belmonte is offering a special discounted New Year’s rate! Please contact the office at 616.200.4433 for details!
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, 6th edition, by Edmund J. Bourne, PhD, New Harbinger Publications 2015
Set an intention for the New Year. That alone can be powerful!