While 2/3 of Americans will establish New Year’s resolutions, only 8% will be successful in achieving their goals. Why? For many, their hopes are a bit lofty and unrealistic. Whether it’s losing weight, getting organized, or spending less money, the changes needed to achieve these goals tend to be more than a person really wants to endure.
So, if you plan to make resolutions this year, may I offer a few that are less demanding on your time and energy while still having a big impact on your health and happiness…
- Meditate daily for just 10 minutes. I’m not talking about the kind where you have to sit atop a mountain chanting “Om” while your mind thinks of nothing. Meditation for the rest of us looks like sitting on your couch with a pile of unfolded laundry next to you while a recorded meditation plays, guiding you through a few minutes of awareness. There are all kinds of free and low-cost guided meditation options – check out iTunes apps and podcasts, YouTube, and Google. Commit to just 10 minutes a day (preferably in the morning) and in a few short weeks you will begin to reap the rewards of this quiet, non-judgmental awareness of self.
- Express gratitude daily. Countless research studies have shown that expressing gratitude is highly correlated with feelings of joy and happiness. Focusing on what you have – both material and non-material – is a powerful way to generate feeling better. Commit to this practice for just a few minutes a day, either in the morning or evening. Some people even prefer to share their gratitude with others using “Gratitude Journal” social apps.
- Make room for all of your emotions. I know this sounds very therapist-y but it is such an important part of feeling great. Too often, people try to cling to “good” emotions and get rid of “bad” emotions, not realizing that this process is often the source of so much pain (not the actual feelings themselves). Instead, we have to remain open to the constant fluctuations in our emotions and allow whatever is there to be there for as long as it needs to be. Trust that your body knows what it needs to feel and knows what it needs to heal, and that the uncomfortable emotions won’t stick around forever.
- Develop a self-care schedule. How often do you really stop to do things that make you feel really good? If you’re like most of us, you probably don’t do this nearly enough. Whether you’re working too hard, serving others before yourself, and/or don’t feel worthy of your own time and attention, self-care tends to be a difficult thing for so many. In 2017, let’s commit to caring for ourselves the same way we care for our loved ones and our jobs…persistently, no matter what! So, what can you start doing that would feel really good…perhaps going to bed a little earlier, or turning off your phone once a week for some time to do whatever you want, or leaving the dishes in the sink and watching a movie on the couch. Whatever floats your boat – do more of it! You work hard, so make sure you play hard, too.
- Invest more in the relationships that mean the most to you. As humans, we feel the best when we feel close and connected to our favorite people. With life being so busy, do you take enough time to really connect with the people you love the most? Whether it’s your partner, a friend, a co-worker, or a family member, making time for your key relationships is a must. Establish small, easy ways to keep in touch with those you love. For example, set a reminder in your phone to text one person each day with a message like, “Thinking of you today;” imagine how good you’ll both feel. You could also allocate a few minutes each night for a brief check-in with your partner, asking each other questions like, “How are you feeling?” and “What can I do to help you feel better?” Finally, take a moment to express your appreciation for something a co-worker has done for you. Too often we fail to share what’s in our hearts, and yet these words tend to have the most profound impact on how we feel.
Whatever you choose to focus on in the New Year, remember to keep the changes small and manageable. Biting off more than you can (or want to) chew will likely leave you feeling like a failure, which is no way to kick off a promising new year.
Cheers to much health and happiness in 2017!
Dr. Ashley Southard is a therapist in Scottsdale, AZ specializing in the treatment of eating disorders, trauma/abuse, and relationship issues. You can follow her on Twitter at @DrAshleyS, and Facebook at /anewbeginningaz and /thehealthyweighout. www.ANewBeginning.com www.TheHealthyWeighOut.com