It’s the New Year, everyone is dropping their resolutions, and I love it! Like ‘em or hate ‘em, resolutions are inevitable, even for the people who say they don’t make them, the mere fact of not making one is indeed, a resolution, wouldn't you say?
As much as we are all saying “new year new ____”, one thing is for sure, after December holidays, between extra spending and extra celebrating, many of us are ringing in the new year with a little extra pounds and a little extra on the credit cards. We can look back and say “yea but it’s worth it!!” and trust me, I’m with you.
However, with all this extra stuff on our mind, it can manifest in the form of stress, worry, anxiety, or outbursts that feel like they literally come out of nowhere.
This is why I’m sharing my top 10 ways to ring in the new year STRESS FREE… or at least as close as possible.
1. Identify Triggers.
We can’t manage stress until we know the cause. As soon as you feel the onset of stress, panic, anxiety, rage, or anger, write it down! Where were you? Who were you around? What were you thinking about? What were you talking about? Open up the notepad on your phone and document it. Remember to state the time and place. Your phone will automatically timestamp the date. Keep a log. You’ll be able to notice a pattern sooner than you realize.
2. Understand Coping Strategies.
There are 2 ways to handle stress; helpful and unhelpful. Unhelpful ways always initially feel good, but over time, they produce less than helpful results. Unhelpful coping strategies can include smoking, drinking, doing drugs, binge eating or even something as harmless sounding as staying in bed all day. Just like the trigger, you can keep a log when you want to reach for these coping strategies. Jot down how you felt immediately before, why you felt that way, how you felt after, and then how you felt after-after… like later that evening or even the next day. You may even start to identify an underlying trigger by looking at the patterns of your coping strategies.
3. Develop New Strategies.
Once you’ve identified the unhelpful strategies, the next step to replace them with helpful ones. These can include exercise, meditation, dancing, playing with your kids, reading a book, taking a bath, unplugging from social media, listening to music, or connecting with a friend or support group. Literally, anything that instantly raises your vibe. One of my favorite things to do is blast music and have a dance party with the kids. Moving and dancing is enough on it’s own, but hearing their laughter always kicks it up a notch.
We already know how powerful exercise is with releasing endorphins and improving the mood, but exercise is also helping for mental health and even emotional health. Emotions get stored in muscle and fascia tissue. Listen to your body when you move. Allow yourself to push beyond your comfort zone but not to the point of injury. If it’s something as simple as holding a plank for 1 minute, you can. You will not injure yourself for holding a plank for a minute. You might get pissed off, you might shake, you might cry or feel weak and ashamed… I know, I’ve been there… but you won’t die. This is where the mental game begins. Go ahead and set your timer and try it. You can do anything for 1 minute. Don’t give up on yourself.
5. Get Proactive.
Can your stress triggers be changed? Absolutely! Maybe not overnight, but over time they can. Write down 3 things that you could do to address a stressful situation, and commit to doing them by a certain time. You’ll not only increase your sense of pride and accomplish, but you’ll also have completed those tasks. It’s a win-win!
6. Practice Acceptance.
It’s possible that you can’t change what’s stressing you, at least initially, especially if it’s stemming from another person, situation or place that you cannot avoid like your living situation, a family member, a person at work, the person who takes your coffee order, a yoga substitute that you weren’t expecting, anything or anyone at all. As frustrating as it feels already, feeling into that frustration will only release more stress hormones, which perpetuates the cycle of stress. If this is the case, practice accepting the things you cannot change. Bless and release.
7. Make Connections.
Reaching out to a certain someone or a group you know, will help you feel calm. They may even be able to offer advice, and if not advice, then simply support. You don’t even have to talk about what’s stressing you out. Simply the act of reaching out to friends, or your favorite online group may be enough for you to make those social connections to get your mind off things and have a much needed laugh. Try not to seek advice from someone who already stresses you out, in hopes that they may miraculously understand this one time. Use your best judgement. Understand who you can trust and know that when someone asks if something is wrong, you have the right to set up a boundary and explain that you aren’t ready to talk about it, if you’re not.
8. Practice Self-Care.
Make a conscious effort to set time aside to recharge. This doesn’t have to be elaborate, or even take a long time. Get rid of any distractions and take the time to do something that you truly enjoy. It can be playing music, doing a puzzle, knitting, taking a bath, exercising, playing with your kids, cooking, the list goes on. Self care for me comes in the form of setting up, cooking and cleaning. I know it sounds arduous to some people but the ultimate way that I love taking care of myself is through nurturing my body and having a mess free sanctuary.
9. Manage Time
Being busy almost is mandatory these days, but being busy ins’t the same as being productive. If we don’t manage our time effectively, we can easily become overwhelmed. Don’t overcommit. Learn to prioritize. Don’t be afraid to say no to things you don’t want to do or simply don’t have time to do.
10. Practice Gratitude
Take a few minutes everyday to remind yourself about all the things your grateful for. This can be a wonderful mood-booster. Every minute that you’re complaining about something is a minute taken away from being productive towards something positive. Keep a gratitude journal or simply think of at least 3 things you’re grateful for at the end of every day.
Let me know your favorite ways to avoid or deal with stress!!