I believe in New Year’s resolutions. I also believe that there is no wrong time to resolve to improve areas of your life that you’re unhappy with. Make St. Patrick’s Day resolutions if you want, or use the feeling of freedom wrapped up in Independence Day to make some changes…whatever works for you. There is no wrong way to resolve.
One of my resolutions is to start writing more. It’s been almost a year since I’ve visited this space and I’ve missed it. 2019 was a year of me taking charge of my mental and emotional health. It was out of character for me, but I dialed back my online output in order to save my energy. It took work and commitment, but I ended it with a framework in place to keep me healthier and happier than I had been when the year started.
The three things that have helped me stay relatively balanced, and better able to cope with what life throws at me are meditation, yoga, and journaling. I have meditated for 587 days in a row and have done yoga for 582 days. Sadly, I missed a day of journaling recently, and so I’m currently on a 4 day streak.
When I decided to focus on these habits, I set some non-negotiable ground rules. My bare minimum was five minutes of meditation and yoga everyday. My journal rule was even less strict, I just had to write a sentence, if nothing else. I found that taking the pressure off myself made it easier to work these things into my day, but also prevented me from making excuses to get out of it. No matter what was going on in my life, I could find a total of ten minutes to help myself. The result is that I am in less physical pain and am better able to recognize and process my emotions. My depression and anxiety will not go away, but through these practices, I am able to see them for what they are.
We often make grand declarations for our resolutions. We get focused on the big picture or think that if it’s not a major, earth shaking change that it doesn’t count. Not true. Meaningful, important, and lasting change can happen with small, dedicated motions. As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. Focus on what you can reasonably do to get to make the changes you want to make. If five minutes of meditation seems overwhelming, try one minute of sitting quietly with your eyes closed. Instead of filling a journal page, try writing one sentence. It doesn’t have to be deep. Take one minute to stretch one part of your body that could use it. There is no wrong choice. Remember, no pressure on yourself.
Maybe these aren’t your goals, maybe your goals have to do with eating better or moving more. In that case, maybe your small steps would be to try a new vegetable every week, to drink one extra glass of water per day, or to walk for at least five minutes each day. Five minutes seems to be a sweet spot for me. As I said, it’s hard for me to weasel out of that amount of time and if I do five minutes, I’ll often add another five.
This year, I’m resolving to make each habit a ten minute habit. I’ve proven that I can do five, why not ten? And now that my mental and emotional health are in check, I’d like to start working on my physical health. I’m dealing with an ankle injury at the moment, but plan on starting an outdoor walking habit when it’s healed. Moving more would help me immensely.
Resolve. Find your bare minimum. Commit. Do. Enjoy the benefits.