Keep Holiday Stress at Bay Week 5: New Year Stress Tips
A few years ago I shifted from using the word “resolutions” and started using the term, “positive life changes” for all my clients. This subtle change in words helped them think more positively at creating some amazing goals for their health in the New Year.
Not only in their physical health, but also their mental health, financial health and soul health.
Once you make your list of what you would like to change, in each of these categories, you will be able to create small steppingstones as to how you can achieve the plans you create?
I’m going to go over some common positive life changes and some advice on how to make them come to fruition. Hopefully this information will help you make effective choices in changing your life for the better.
Creating Positive Life Changes in your Physical Health:
Do you want more energy?
Do you want to move without pain in your body?
Do you want to sleep better?
Do you want to lose weight and increase your heart health?
All of these are great goals to set up to achieve in 2021. Losing weight is one of the top “resolutions” most of us strive for in a New Year. The hard part is sticking to a diet and exercise plan that is achievable for you.
Start with some very simple and measurable goals. What can you change in your daily diet that you would be able to do without so much of a hardship?
Try switching up your meal routines slightly to get use to eating different things.
· 2 hardboiled eggs or 2 scrambled eggs with ½ avocado and a tablespoon of salsa?
· Whole wheat or Gluten Free toast spread with ¼ avocado and 4 pieces of spinach topped with egg salad with 1 hardboiled egg, 1tbl real mayo with pepper.
· 1 egg omlette using chopped veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, onions, spinach, kale or tomatoes.
· Tuna salad or chicken salad made with 1tbl real mayo, chopped cucumber, carrots, onion and sunflower or pumpkin seeds, red grapes or golden raisins folded into romaine lettuce leaves.
· Sliced apple or celery sticks with 1tbl almond butter or sunflower butter.
· Grilled chicken kabobs. Make an extra chicken breast and cut it up to use for a quick snack. Stick on with cherry tomatoes, black olives, cheese or pepperocinis.
· Grilled salmon, chicken or lean red meat with asparagus, zucchini/yellow squash, onions, peppers etc. Use brown rice or sweet potato for your complex carb and drizzle with olive oil.
· Mixed greens loaded with chopped veggies like cucumber, carrot, peppers, tomatoes, pea pods, onions and topped with grilled fish or meat. Top with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and a balsamic vinaigrette.
· Savory salads are also great for dinner. Use 2 cups mixed greens, topped with warm salmon, ½ baked sweet potato, pumpkin seeds, goat cheese and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette is very filling.
· Grilled turkey burgers with a whole wheat bun or skip the bun and use romaine lettuce leaves. Top with goat cheese, artichokes or avocado.
The key is to add more protein and green leafy veggies to your plan while limiting the amount of complex carbs. Not only will this help your waistband, it will also help you get better sleep and boost your energy levels.
Exercise daily, even if that means taking a 15-minute walk on your lunch break. Make it a brisk walk and lift your knees a little higher. Moving your body every single day in some way will help you lose weight, have more energy and sleep better. Strive for 30 minutes of movement every day. If it is easier to do 60 minutes three days a week, that’s good too, but try and at least stretch on your down days so that your body stays flexible and your joints don’t hurt.
If you walk three days a week, do some yoga stretching or strength training two days a week so your body is shocked into learning something new and it kicks it’s metabolism into gear.
Creating Positive Life Changes in your Mental Health:
Reducing stress levels is another great goal that many people strive to achieve in a new year. Stress can be very destructive on your health but also on your relationships. Our lifestyles have become so much more hectic that we tend to forget how to calm down and live one moment at a time. This past year also threw us a new type of stress that we were not prepared for, so it is only human that we are a little overwhelmed and tired from a turbulent 2020.
There are so many different types of yoga, meditation and mindfulness to help you decrease your stress. Add these to your weekly routine:
· Beginner online or streaming Yoga classes and mat Pilates classes will help you learn the breath work that helps lower your cortisol levels as well as stretch, tighten and tone your body.
· Practice breathing a few times a day. Sit and inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of two and exhale for a count of four. Do this ten times and then increase the counts. Inhale for a count of six, hold the breath for a count of four and exhale for a count of six.
· A mindful daily walk is another easy way to help stop a racing brain and bring you back to the present moment. It is best to take this walk when you are frustrated, bored or anxious about a situation that is happening in your world. As you are walking around the block, look for three things a specific color (change up the color every day). Listen for three different sounds. Touch three different textures. Smell three different scents and taste three different things on your tongue.
· Massage your ears, forearms or hands. Taking a moment to do some quick massage on yourself can help release tension, but also boost some happy hormones. Treat yourself to a monthly massage. It is so worth it when you feel relaxed and refreshed afterward.
· Play some soothing music to calm your nerves and boost your happy meter. Dance and sing like no one is watching.
· Surround yourself with essential oils like lavender, Frankincense, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Chamomile and Sandalwood.
· Take a power nap of 12 minutes but no more than 30 minutes to give you a boost of energy and reset your brain.
· Work on a crossword puzzle, Sudoku or color in an adult coloring book to work opposite sides of your brain.
· Savor a cup of coffee or tea as you daydream looking outside or watching the snow fall.
Creating Positive Life Changes in your Financial Health:
You can’t move forward in your life if you are struggling with debt. Financial freedom is not an easy road, but it is manageable with some planning and self-restraint. Here are some tips:
· Create a clear picture. Understand what your debt is and how you got there. Don’t judge yourself for it, just realize that you don’t want to make those choices again. Write down all of your debt.
· Stop creating more debt. Change your spending habits now so that you set yourself up for success. It is necessary to live within your means and even below your means if possible. This year may be a little easier since we are not driving as much or traveling as much. I have saved money since I don’t have to fill up my car as much and have put that money I saved in another savings account.
· Create an emergency fund. Even a little bit of a savings cushion can help you. It gives you a small amount of security and prepares your mind and soul for a crisis. You will have liquid reserves when you need cash in an emergency.
· Track where your money is coming from. Not only track your spending but track your acquiring too. Figure out what necessities you need: rent, car, gas, utilities, food and where could you spend less? Maybe stop buying new clothes or shoes for three months and see how much money you can save. Make your lunches at home and bring your own coffee to work. This will also save you money in the long run. Take on an extra side job for a few hours a week to earn some extra cash to pay off small debts. If you seriously want to pay down your debt, you may need to suck it up for awhile and sacrifice a little to pay things off quicker. For example, one friend decided to drive Lyft on the weekends for two months and was able to pay down one credit card with the money she made.
· Create a debt reduction plan. Once you have an idea of what you owe and how much you can pay toward each debt it is a good idea to look at which debt you want to pay off first. One option is to pay off the debt with the smallest balance first. Make sure you are still making the minimum payments on the other debts but put a little more on toward the one debt until it is paid off. Then use that money on to the next smallest debt and so on. This helps you gain momentum and the sense that you are making progress. Another option is to pay of the debt with the highest interest rate. This is the most financially advantageous route because you will reduce the amount of interest paid overall. One other option would be to pay off the oldest debts first. Old debts tend to have a emotional toll on you, especially if you are still paying off student loans from 15 years ago. Once you can pay those off you will feel a tremendous amount of relief.
No matter the extent of your debt, it is not hopeless. Start small but start and see the momentum pick up when you are able to pay more and more to bring the debt lower. Commitment and persistence are needed to be successful.
Creating Positive Life Changes in your Soul Health:
Learning to be happier is another goal many of us look to gain in the New Year. You may work out often, make a good living, love your career and even have your stress under control, but you could still be unhappy. It can take a lot of patience and time to learn how to find joy in every little thing and to fill your soul, but it can be done.
· Take time every day to become more mindful of your surroundings. Walk outside and breathe in the clean air, feel the warmth of the sun on your face, look at the trees or clouds and listen to the sounds all around you.
· Take time to journal every day about things you are grateful for and things that you have accomplished.
· Slow down and enjoy each moment, especially if your kids ask for help or a hug or advice. Give them 100% of your attention.
· Help others without needing something in return.
· Spend less time on social media and more time face to face with those you care about.
· Listen to podcasts or TED talks about topics that interest you.
· Volunteer within your community more this next year. What can you offer to a non-profit to help them?
· Connect deeper to your spirituality. Whether that means joining a prayer group, learning some new mantras to use, or finding an amazing guided meditation that resonates with every cell in your body. Take time to find a deeper connection with your soul this next year.
So, although we won’t be packed in a restaurant, dance floor or Times Square ringing in the new year, we can still create an amazing year for ourselves and take the lessons from 2020 into 2021 with joy, ease and grace.
Don’t move into 2021 without letting go of something from 2020, an old idea, habit, fear, concern of ego. Free up that space to bring in some new and amazing ideas, habits, love, laughter and moments of bliss~
How will you make room for bliss in 2021?