Claire W., PLPC, gives tips on how to shift from “New Year, New Me,” to a healthier version: “New Year, New Mindset”
The start of a new year is rife with emotion. There’s a very palpable sense of starting anew and fresh, which can be incredibly exciting and invigorating. The flip side is that there can also be a tremendous amount of pressure, an onslaught of lofty expectations, and a bevy of unpleasant emotions if (or more realistically, when) we fall short of what we envision for our future selves.
This is not to say the concept and implementation of New Year’s resolutions is inherently bad or something to be avoided. Rather, it is an invitation to examine how we have historically rung in years past and to ask ourselves if that is a tradition we want to continue as we head into 2023. If in the past your resolutions have led to burnout and frustration with yourself, maybe now is the time to give yourself permission to explore other alternatives.
Traditional New Year’s Resolutions involve weight loss, physical fitness, increased productivity, and financial abundance. Again, while these are not necessarily bad or unhealthy goals, they’re not all there is in the realm of resolutions. Here are some other ideas that may feel more sustainable, realistic, and nourishing.
- 1. Implement boundaries both professionally and personally – only check your work email between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm and learn how to politely say no without over explaining yourself.
- 2. Practice swapping your negative self-talk for self-compassion – let’s say you lose your keys and you notice you’re saying things to yourself like, “you’re such an idiot, how could you do this again?”. As soon as you notice it, stop and try saying, “it makes sense why I misplaced my keys – this week has been so chaotic.” Close your eyes and take a deep breath before continuing your search.
- 3. Try a mindfulness technique – while washing the dishes, notice the temperature of the water running over your hands and the smell of the soap. Pay attention to your feet on the ground and the sounds in the kitchen around you. Repeat the mantra, “I am here now.”
- 4. Explore what it feels like to journal – if you notice your mind racing to the point where you can’t refocus your attention, set a 20 minute timer, grab a paper and pen, and write down any and everything that’s occupying your mental space. When the timer goes off, put the pen down, close your eyes and see if there were any shifts in how your mind and body feel.
- 5. Tune into your values – identify your 3 most important priorities in life (e.g., family, work, finances, friends, self development, faith, etc.) and examine how aligned those priorities are with where you’re investing your time and energy.
- 7. Set limits on how much time you spend on social media – pay attention to how you feel after you spend 2 hours on Instagram and adjust your time accordingly. Worried about your kids’ screen usage? Check out our course here on how to develop healthier relationships with screens.
- 8. List 3 things you’re grateful for before you go to sleep – choose what feels authentic to you and try to think of different things every so often.
- 9. Step outside when you feel overwhelmed – let the literal space and fresh air calm you and offer perspective.
- 10. Find ways to have fun regularly – go camping, play with your kids, blast Taylor Swift and dance while you’re cleaning the house. Life’s not meant to be lived so seriously.
The Buddha said, “Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” While the dawn of 2023 is indeed exciting and something worth celebrating, it is equally important to remember that we have the choice to hit the reset button and start fresh not only on January 1st, but at any moment throughout the year. How we live our days is how we live our lives. Be gentle with yourself, take the pressure off of becoming a new and improved you, and be intentional with your choices. That may be just what you need most this new year.