It's a new year, which means new us! It’s a time of transition and introspection, however cliche that’s become, and a perfect time to set new goals for yourself. One of the best things that you can do for your own health is to be aware of it, and this extends doubly to the mental, which can affect your well-being in a multitude of ways. Mindfulness is one of those words that's bandied about a lot, but it pays off; here are a few strategies and tips to help you make the most of your reflection:
Journaling – Keeping a diary can help your health in a number of ways. Carrying the burdens of our emotions and beliefs alone can be exhausting, and letting them fall onto a page can help relieve that weight. Though there's nothing wrong with writing a digital diary, doing so by hand can provide an additional sense of catharsis, and allow you to more easily reflect on prior entries. Doing so might help you spot things that are holding you back or that you'll want to change for other reasons.
Anchoring – A more immediate practice, and one that can help in stressful moments, the process of anchoring yourself involves observing your surroundings and doing your best to keep yourself in the moment. A common archetype of this process, often referred to as grounding, involves the following: count five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell and one you can taste. This method is perhaps best used in the prevention of panic attacks, but it is also an effective tool for helping one gain a greater sense of and appreciation for their surroundings and how those might be affecting their mental health.
Similar to this is the concept of the body scan, the idea of taking a moment or two to observe yourself in your natural state, be it sitting at your desk or wherever you work, or at other points during the day. Try to be aware of what you're feeling and why, from the aches of labor to the gnaw of hunger and even the way you're sitting; adjusting yourself and fulfilling the needs of your body can help lead to a greater sense of satisfaction, not to mention better health.
Exercise – It is perhaps the most prominent health-related cliché around, but carving out a space in each day for exercise helps in ways that defy expression. Even setting aside twenty minutes for a walk outside, one without checking your email or being in a Zoom meeting that could have been an email, will help. You don't have to buy special clothes or take out a loan for a Peloton, either; you'll find your own limits for exercise, whatever kind you choose to engage with, and it will help you better understand your own body.
It might take less time for you to feel the results than you think. After only a few weeks of riding the old exercise bike in our basement, my dad noticed how much easier the yard work became for him to handle. Of course, no matter what kind of exercise you do, be sure to adequately hydrate!
Social Awareness –Whether we like it or not, interaction is the true currency by which the world turns, and we are beholden to it. Whether you're talking with a colleague at the water cooler or, again, sitting through yet another meeting, try your best to listen actively rather than passively. Mentally engage with the ideas you're hearing, even if they at first sound obvious or mundane; this will help you remember what you're hearing for later, as well as potentially lead to the genesis of your own ideas. Newton developed the law of gravity from watching an apple fall, so imagine what you could do!
Enjoy! – The question in that last entry wasn't a hypothetical: imagine! Though work probably isn't the best place to do it, let your mind roam free from time to time. Enjoy new things, find ways to express your creativity and learn about the world. There's a time and place for everything, and that includes a hobby, a way to let loose beyond simply being absent from the places that demand your presence.
I will always recommend reading something outside of your 'usual' genre.' Recently I went from science fiction to a “summer read” novel and found myself enjoying it far more than I would have expected. If you don't know what your genre is, find out! Books are cheap at the thrift store and you can always re-donate them when you're done. There are other things you can do, of course, from baking to playing video games, but try to keep your mind engaged and active. That awareness will help your life feel more balanced and enjoyable
Eat Nakee Butter! – Of course, we’ll always recommend Nakee Butter as another tool in the kit you use to work toward whatever goal you’ve got on your mind in 2024. We’re happy to help you stay fueled and on track for whatever comes next – to power your consistency, be sure to get some Nakee Butter!
One of the most important things to remember for all of these practices is that they are meant to be habits, done each day the same as your morning hygiene routine. Integrating them into the cycle of your day will take time, but as you and your routine adapt to accommodate them, you'll likely find yourself feeling better than you did before, and more aware of the world and its effects on you.
Do your best to be consistent about the timing of these activities as well as their length; they're a positive commitment and each represents another way to better yourself and your health. Thanks for reading!
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