OK, we’re exactly one week away from Christmas! Who’s excited!?
If you read my December Confessions post, you may have already seen my desperate plea to postpone Christmas until the end of January. But, guess what? Now I have bus ticket to New York, have purchased
all of my at least three presents, and am feeling a little more optimistic that I’ll be ready to celebrate by this time next week.
Since we’re nearing the end of 2013, I’ve been thinking a lot about my “resolutions” for the new year. I put resolutions in quotes because I don’t really like to lock myself into must-dos for the entire year. When I’ve set yearly resolutions in the past, I’ve found myself feeling guilty and disappointed if I didn’t accomplish them. I’d rather think of small things that I can work on month-to-month than come up with a few sweeping goals for the whole year, because, really, there is no sure way to know what’s going to happen in the next 12 months.
So, I’ve decided that for the month of January I’m going to participate in a little something I’d like to call the ‘Let It Go’ challenge.
I don’t know what it is lately—my busy schedule, the stress of the holidays approaching, not getting enough sleep—but I’ve been letting the smallest things get to me. I talked last week about having feelings and just letting them be, and I truly believe that. I also believe, however, that out of all the things in life we can’t control, we can control how we react to everyday life. There are a ton of things we can do, internally and externally, to help control how perceive the world around us.
So, without further ado, here are seven things I’m going to do in January as part of my Let It Go Challenge. Feel free to participate and let me know how you feel at the end of the month!
Practice Yoga: I recently signed up for unlimited monthly yoga at my favorite studio and for the whole month of January I intend to go at least twice a week.There is really nothing like a good workout to clear my mind. It doesn’t matter what kind of mood I’m in going into a workout, I know that by the time I get out I’m in a better one. Yoga does that and more. The lessons I’ve learned in class transfer to every other aspect of my life. Yoga has taught me patience which plays a huge role in my interactions with others. It’s helped me to stay calm and clear-headed in tough situations. Perhaps most importantly, it’s taught me mindfulness, which I’ll discuss here in a bit. When I carry all of these lessons with me from day to day, I find dealing with life’s little annoyances to be a lot easier. I believe that practicing twice a week will only increase my tolerance and compassion.
Get Enough Sleep: I’m not a night owl. I was never one of those students in college who could pull all-nighters. Jeff laughs at me because one of my favorite times of the day is bedtime. I love sleeping and when I don’t get enough of it my mental and physical health suffers. I’m irritable and can’t focus and that makes it a lot easier to let little things get to me. Plus I crave more sweets and caffeine which make me anxious and do nothing but add to my stress. When I feel rested, my daily mentality is a lot more optimistic. I have more energy and that energy helps me smile more and be kind to everyone I come across. I plan to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night in January.
Practice Compassion: Too often I forget that people act the way they do because of internal and external factors in their own lives. In January, I’m going to try really hard to remember this whenever someone does or says something that I don’t like or agree with. We’ve all had our fair share of stressful moments when we do or say something out of character and then regret it right away. I’m going to try to be extra forgiving of those moments. When my father was in the hospital I found it overwhelming to deal with my friends and family, let alone strangers. I might have come across as rude or mean at times without even intending to. I think it’s important to put yourself in the other person’s shoes before you react, so I’m going to try to do just that. I don’t really know how to quantify this in the challenge so I’m just going to write this quote on sheet of paper and keep it with me everywhere I go:
Meditate: Part of my challenge is to mediate for five minutes, three times a week. The purpose of this will be to improve the way I let deep breathing calm me and keep me focused, and to work on mindfulness. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not always in the moment. It’s kind of hard to do when my mind is always in a million different places at once. I read recently that “’Multitasking’ by definition implies that we are doing too many things at once.” The beauty of yoga and mediation is that it forces you to focus on one thing and one thing only, and then you can transfer that mentality to other aspects of your life. I think meditating will really improve the way I interact with not only myself but those around me as well.
Cut Back on Caffeine: I don’t know about you, but when I have too much caffeine, I get anxious and jumpy. And when I’m anxious and jumpy, it’s a lot harder to control my reactions to others. I love coffee for the way it tastes but, in January, I’m going to cut it down to only a cup or two in the morning. Maybe one in the early afternoon if absolutely necessary, but none after 3 p.m. I’ll switch to decaf or herbal tea in the evening. Doing so will keep be a little more focused and not on edge.
Pay It Forward: Happiness and kindness are contagious. I believe that once you go out of your way to be kind to someone, it’s nearly impossible to be mean or rude to the next person you come across. In addition, being extra kind by ‘paying it forward’ only encourages the person you were kind to to pay it forward, too. In January, I intend to Pay It Forward at least once a week, whether it’s helping someone carry their bags to their car from the grocery store or buying the person behind me in line a cup of coffee. When you brighten someone else’s day, yours is brightened, too. And when I’m in a happy mood, it’s especially difficult to let little things get to me. (Idea for this part of the challenge came from December’s Elf4Health challenge.)
Establish Me-Time: I can’t stress enough how important this part of the challenge is. I become very overwhelmed with I’m with other people all the time and leave no time for myself. Jeff went out with coworkers last night and it felt so nice to just veg out on the couch by myself for a few hours. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy time with others, especially Jeff, but when I’m putting all my energy into interacting with other people and none into ‘me-time,’ I’m not as happy as I know I could be if I just took an hour or two out of the week to just be by myself. So, in January, I’m budgeting at least two hours of me-time a week.
So there you have it, seven things I plan to do next month to help keep the little things from getting to me. Let me know if you plan to do this challenge, too, or if you have different ideas for how to Let It Go in January!
Have a great Wednesday!!