The holidays have left as quickly as the visit from St. Nick, and you may be feeling a little out of sorts. The New Year is perfect for fresh starts, but resolutions have a reputation of not lasting past the first quarter. We have assembled a few life tips from the pros to help you make real and positive changes that last.
Money can be a huge source of negativity. Many of us overspend in December and feel guilt and anxiety when the bills arrive in January. Leanne Jacobs, a holistic wealth expert and author of Beautiful Money: The 4-Week Total Wealth Makeover, says debt management takes strength and should be handled with confidence and a positive attitude:
“Debt has an ability to consume your entire life as well as your state of mind and emotions. Often people will forget that although they carry debt, they aren’t themselves debt. There can be a lot of shame around being in debt, leaving one feeling inadequate.…Staying positive will help with goal setting, confidence, discipline and persistence—all requirements for getting out of debt in a timely way.”
Leanne’s Tips for Tackling Anxiety About Debt:
- Create a vision board that includes many images of what your life will look and feel like when you are debt-free.
- Designate someone you love and trust to hold you accountable.
- Keep tools in your back pocket to draw on when you are having moments of panic and fear. These might include yoga, meditation, exercise, nature hikes and journaling.
Getting back into shape after your calorie-packed, end-of-year gatherings can be overwhelming. But, with the right mindset, says Steve Kamb, author of Level Up Your Life and creator of Nerdfitness.com, you can “focus on building a healthy habit daily, and your weight will start to take care of itself.”
“Instead of focusing on the scale or the end goal, focus on each day’s tiny goals and make the goal performance based.” Try to find a workout that is fun for you: Zumba, running, weightlifting, yoga or training to be the next American Ninja Warrior. “The goal is getting healthy and happy permanently, no more roller coaster diet boom and bust!”
Steve’s List for Your “Epic Quest of Awesome”:
- Small, consistent victories. No more diets; no running yourself ragged on a treadmill for a few weeks to get in shape for the summer. Instead, start with small changes that you can live with permanently.
- Consistently push yourself just slightly outside of your normal behavior toward more healthy choices.
- Cultivate discipline. Get junk food out of your house. Program your workouts into your calendar. Recruit a friend to keep you accountable.
We are going to have to find a way to get along with our food choices. Lynn Rossy, Ph.D., a health psychologist and the author of The Mindfulness-Based Eating Solution: Proven Strategies to End Overeating, Satisfy Your Hunger, and Savor Your Life, says we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves for eating more and moving less.
“When you have a healthy relationship with food, you realize that food is mainly to take care of physical hunger….Your other hungers for connection, creativity, movement, fun, etc., are not met with food,” she says. “When you meet your other hungers with appropriate solutions, you will create a more meaningful and happy life.”
Lynn’s Tips for a Healthy Relationship With Food
- Don’t set unrealistic rules for yourself. In fact, don’t set any rules. You’ll only be setting yourself up to fail and be discouraged.
- When you eat to meet your taste needs, you realize that you don’t have to overeat because you can always have tasty food whenever you want it and you can eat it sensibly.
- Every day, decide to see the bright side. Ponder this miracle of life and ask yourself, “How can I respect this body I’ve been given for another day?”
When life’s burdens seem too heavy, it helps to look at things through the right prism. Finding what’s most important to us and attaching ourselves to something larger in life means we are actively seeking out happiness. Heather Lende, obituary writer and author of Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons From a Small-Town Obituary Writer, has written more than 400 obituaries in her life, a good number of them for people she knew personally. Through her work, she’s learned that the people who are bold enough to fully live their lives are the happiest.
“It’s the people who make and keep good relationships that are what I would call the most successful on the happiness scale. They are also the most generous and often praised for kindness and their ability to forgive. Those are the people I admire the most.”
Heather’s Hints for Finding More Meaning:
- Smile more and share kind words.
- Quit checking your phone. Leave it on the table and go for a walk.
- Connect with others. Get out of your comfort zone and volunteer at a community center or hospital, an animal shelter or local park.
Shola Richards, a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, creator of the blog The Positivity Solution (thepositivitysolution.com) and author of Making Work Work: The Positivity Solution for Any Work Environment, points out that we spend more than 80,000 hours at work. “The thought of spending the majority of those hours locked in a miserable environment with people who we don’t like or respect is horrifying to me,” Shola says.
“On a positive note though, enjoying our work has shown wide-ranging benefits from improved health to increased productivity. Everyone wins when we enjoy what we do for a living.”
Shola’s Advice for Getting the Most Out of Work:
- One the best ways to ease the transition from the lull of the holidays to the hustle of the New Year is having meaningful friendships in the workplace.
- The most common negative trap to avoid is the soul-destroying habit of chronic complaining. We should vent if we must, but we can never lose sight of the fact that positive outcomes at work will elude us if we focus energy on our problems instead of possible solutions.
- Reduce the amount of toxic influences in our lives. If being on social media is stressing you out or is making you feel bad about yourself, then stop.
Chris Libby is the Section Editor at Live Happy magazine.