My head spins every time the calendar year comes to an end. By the time I’ve finished “getting through things,” and I’m actually getting a handle on my lifestyle, it’s time to start over again.
Come every January, there is a lot of pressure to squeeze in meaningful moments and be ready to change your life in some dramatic way. This can be daunting. But you can slow things down! Take a moment, take a deep breath, and set your own intentions at your own pace.
Here are some 5 easy ways to welcome 2019 with positivity:
1. Listen to your heart.
Do your goals match your joy? If you’re setting a goal because it sounds like something you should do, but it’s not something you want to do, reconsider it! Think of this like trying on sweaters. If you wear a sweater that looks good, but it’s itchy or uncomfortable, you’re the one that has to feel uncomfortable all day. So why wear an itchy sweater? Instead, put on something that makes you feel good. Let’s go into 2019 with intentions that will make you happy!
2. Build on what you have.
If you want to make life-changing goals, that’s great! But you can also try to acknowledge something positive that you already have established in your life, and then work with that. Maybe you want to lose weight but you also love to cook meals for your family. Instead of committing to an unrealistic workout schedule, find more nutritious ingredients for those meals that you already make. If you want to get rid of an old habit, reframe the approach. Build on what you have. Habits are a part of who you are, so try to embrace them. How can you turn your negative habit into your tool? In essence, if you can accept who you are, good and bad, and work with it instead of forcing new habits and outright rejecting the old, progress will be much easier for you.
3. Practice mindfulness in passing.
Practicing mindfulness does not always mean meditating in a cave for decades. Mindfulness is a muscle, and small bits of consistent practice can go a long way. Let’s say you’re standing in line at a grocery store. You’re thinking about how you’re going to cook the food you’re buying, pondering what you did earlier today, and stressing about your to-do list tomorrow. Instead, start by noticing that you’re thinking a lot. No need to judge that, you’re a very busy woman. Gently tap on the brake. Slow down. Listen to the song playing in the store, notice the color of the tiles on the ground, feel the temperature in the space. If you can gently bring yourself to the present moment, physical and mental anxiety will melt away. That is a powerful tool that you can develop - in passing. No matter what 2019 brings, you will be ready to find calmness within yourself.
4. Consider your crowd.
Can you think of three people that inspire you? Can you think of three people that bring you down? At this time of the year, I see social media posts about letting go of “toxic” people. It is important to identify relationships that may be “toxic”. But I like to stress that you can work with what you have. Instead of writing “toxic” on the foreheads of those unpleasant peeps and sending them on their way, have a conversation with each of them and analyze the parts of the relationship that don’t make you feel good. You can turn relationships that may have been harmful for you into an even stronger support system than you had before. And, if you can’t turn that toxic relationship into a positive one? Well, in this case, it may be time to move on from that relationship.
5. Make time to exercise!
Do you have time each week to get out and move? If not, let’s make some! According to the National Institutes of health, exercising for 2.5 hours a week at moderate intensity can extend your life up to 3.4 years! Exercising is also a great way to practice mindfulness. As a busy young woman myself, exercising (I run) is often the only time throughout the week that I can enjoy the outdoors and my own company. It makes a huge difference in my ability to focus, sleep, and keep up with my lifestyle.
Yoga is a form of exercise that incorporates both mindfulness and physical health. Yoga can help regulate stress levels, sleep patterns, and improve bone and joint health. Richard Davidson, Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, found that the left prefrontal cortex showed heightened activity in meditators, which has been correlated with greater levels of happiness and better immune function. Since yoga is a form of moving meditation, it’s no surprise that there are so many benefits to this ancient practice. Better yet, if you practice yoga, you’ll be modeling this form of healthy exercise for your kids, too. Young children are more likely to exercise and lead healthy lifestyles when they see their parents doing it regularly.
Success Though Self-love
Each of these steps has one prerequisite: self-love. Self-love is a word that is thrown around all the time, and it’s a lifelong effort. It’s important to know that self-esteem and self-love are two different things. Self-esteem depends on how you are perceived by others, your accomplishments, and how much better you are than the average person. Depending on factors such as these can lead to unhealthy highs and lows.
Self-love, according to The Atlantic Magazine, is “treating yourself just like you would your best friends, even when they (you) screw up.” This means acknowledging your imperfections and mistakes as part of the human experience, rather than blaming yourself for them. You can rub your own shoulder and say, “that’s okay,” and mean it. If you can consciously grow towards self-love in 2019, you can really go far.
If you know yourself, you can listen to your heart, make time to move, and consider your crowd. If you are accepting of yourself, you can build on what you have. If you are forgiving to yourself, you can practice mindfulness. Armed with all of these tips, you can move into 2019 with a positive mindset, no matter what comes your way.
About Ocean Noah: Originally from Los Angeles, Ocean moved to San Francisco to study creative writing at San Francisco State University. She writes fiction, blog posts, and op-eds. Ocean is thrilled to write for Pretzel Kids, as her mother is a yogi too!