The holidays are a hectic time for many of us and it’s easy to lose yourself in the melee. We get caught up in the needs and wants of everyone without regard for our own wellbeing. On many occasions I would think when is it my turn. When do I get time to recharge, reflect and prepare for the year ahead? These might be the same questions you're pondering now. The most important lesson I’ve learned this year is to invest in yourself. That means putting your needs ahead of others. From my own experience when I don’t take care of myself I’m tired, irritable and easily overwhelmed. Many of you probably feel this on a daily basis, the holidays only amplify it. When I took control of my own situation and implemented small changes I saw amazing results both mentally and physically. The suggestions presented below are based on my own positive experiences. My hope is to inspire others to start establishing a few good habits now for a positive and successful year ahead
My day use to start with a brain barrage of things I needed to get done. Who has time to enjoy a nice breakfast when you have ten things to get done before noon? By the time the day was over I usually felt defeated and rundown. That feeling of being overwhelmed was constant and it became evident that something needed to change. Meditation was first brought to my attention while listening to a podcast about relaxation techniques. A general search on YouTube for guided morning meditations produced thousands of results. If you’re new to meditation 10 minutes is a good starting point. It took a commitment of one week for me to really feel the positive impact. My current morning ritual is 10-15 minutes of guided meditation while still lying in bed. I suggest keeping your headphones close so when you wake up you can establish a routine. I noticed a daily feeling of calm once I meditated on a regular basis. Mediation also taught me the art of letting go. I learned techniques to clear my mind and just focus on one thing. Since the initial week a few months ago I’ve added a second 5-10 minute afternoon mediation. The meditations are simple. Most involve closing my eyes and properly breathing. The goal is to stay focused and be in the moment. The concept of living in the moment is something many of us struggle with. Our brain constantly wants to think about the future, so we sacrifice appreciating the present. A great way to get started is with guided meditations from The Honest Guys. They have thousands to choose from and using the guided videos helps teach you the basics of proper breathing and finding your center. Give it a try and see if you experience the same sense of awareness and relaxation.
The truth is mediation is a great way to learn how to be mindful but you can’t ignore your physical health. Making exercise a priority is one of the most popular resolutions made each year. This is evident in the uptick in gym attendance during January. The likelihood of sticking with it seems to dwindle by March when I notice the thinning crowds. The holidays are when we could really benefit from the increase in physical activity. It would also help to not gain those extra holiday pounds so many of use complain about. If you commit to working out before the New Year by the time 2016 rolls around you’ll be ahead of the game. If the gym isn’t for you or you can’t afford a membership I suggest a workout challenge. I just completed my first 30 day squat challenge and found the variety and goal setting really kept me motivated. Challenges are a great way to alter your routine and concentrate on specific areas of the body. An additional benefit of doing a challenge is you establish a new exercise routine which helps alleviate boredom. I substituted the challenge for my normal leg routine which also made my workouts shorter. Each week was slightly more difficult but you feel accomplished once you complete each day. I also noticed that after the first week I was more focused and had more energy in my daily life. Having a 30 day goal improved my strength, toned my legs and increased my confidence. I am already searching for my next workout challenge. It’s a great way to step up your game without adding time to an already hectic schedule.
Another habit that can have lasting benefits on your productivity is to establish what you want to accomplish on a given day. Goal setting is a hot topic but many people don’t understand the importance. Setting goals is a great tool to keep us focused and on track. I like to set my weekly goals on Sunday and use that list to set my daily tasks. Set daily goals every two days. It will feel less overwhelming since we can’t always anticipate how long things will take. If a few don’t get accomplished I move them to the following day and reprioritize. Knowing what I want to accomplish allows me to break down what I need to do in order to meet those weekly goals. It’s also imperative to set priorities and stick with them. Take ownership of what you want to accomplish in a given week. If you set realistic expectations there is a greater chance for success. Life can throw you curve balls so it’s not always possible to stay the course but at least having the goal map will decrease your chances of getting lost.
My last habit is probably the toughest for many people to implement. Give yourself permission to be selfish. I image the very idea sounds terrifying to some. Do something that makes you smile, gives you pleasure or just feels good. Take 30 minutes to indulge in your favorite coffee or tea, get a manicure, or spend some time each week escaping in to a book. Doing for yourself is personal which is why is so important and difficult. Research has shown that having something to look forward to creates a positive outlook on life. I like to designate one day a week to sitting in a diner and having breakfast alone. I usually read a paper or write in my journal and just enjoy the time. Having these moments allows you to tackle life’s challenges with a clear mind and a calmer demeanor. Doesn’t it sound so appealing to spend just 20 minutes doing whatever you desire and know that it will make you more productive? That should be reason enough to give it a try.
We all deserve a sense of peace and balance in this life. When we take care of ourselves it makes us better friends, spouses and parents. The holidays are such a hectic time that implementing some of the habits above could help you manage it better. Establishing healthy habits now can positively influence lifelong changes. Try one or all of the suggestions above, they are meant to offer a look into what helps me decompress and focus. A positive attitude and a sense of awareness can have life altering effects. Stop the cycle of putting your needs last. Now it’s your chance. Please share what you do to find balance in a hectic life. What are some of your best tips for recharging and detoxing throughout the year?