Happy New Year everyone!!!
I decided to take a break from working and social media over the Holiday season but I am back refreshed and ready to take 2018 by storm!
There were a lot of ideas swirling around in my head about what my first blog post of 2018 should be. The obvious choices were new years resolutions, healthy eating and workout habits for the new year. To be perfectly honest, I think you have probably heard enough about all of that by this point- and it's only day 3 of 2018. However, this blog post came to me at the end of a Yoga class while I had a clear and focused mind and realized how crucial my winter vacation was for a mental reset.
I am not someone who takes breaks often, but I am growing as a professional and learning how important it is if I want to be successful. It would have been easy for me to use my 1 week vacay to spend time writing blog posts, prepping for teaching in the upcoming semester or working on marketing for my business. BUT I decided to actually use my time to slow down and completely clear my mind of all things work. And guess what?? Big shocker- It helped like crazy! I was able to be present in the moment to enjoy the time spent with family and friends. As a result, I am feeling re-energized and ready to go in 2018.
I have always felt torn with finding a good work-life balance. On one hand, dedication and working hard are important if we want to do big things, taking breaks feels like a sign of weakness and that we don't care. On the other hand, does work really matter in the end? How can we enjoy life if we do not stop to smell the roses!? It is a daily struggle for me and I know that I am not alone in this "Go Go Go" mentality. I think we all struggle with it to some extent and yes, it may make us temporarily happy and fulfilled, but in the long run we eventually break down. Sometimes we need to force ourselves that it is ok to take a break, realizing that work will be there when we get back and the world will not stop turning. Everyone needs a mental reset now and then!
I don't know where this "never slow down" mentality came from, but it makes life always feel like a competition. I think I became more sensitive to it when we moved to a major metropolitan area where everyone is constantly on overdrive. Lots of driven people making a lot of money, makes everyone else need to work harder just to try and keep up. Not that it is a bad thing to be motivated and enjoy working, I definitely fall into that category of people. However, when we are constantly on the go, work that we once loved begins to feel like work again. Thats usually a sign its time to slow down or re-evaluate our goals.
So what did I do over my nice long 10 day vacation?? Basically I did the most relaxing things one could do when snowed-in in Western New York. I rolled out of bed around 8am, stayed in my PJ's till 10am, practiced yoga, read, colored and put together puzzles. I ate (lots of) Christmas cookies, drank hot chocolate, played in the snow and went sledding. The most impressive of all... I took NAPS! Yes, I said naps, a word that is just not in my vocabulary. What did I take away from all of this? It feels really good to take time for yourself. The last night of my time at home I opened up my planner and reflected on the past year. I looked at the best and worst parts of the year, if I met my goals and lived my intentions and plotted out what I wanted to change in 2018. I could have done this prior to having a mental reset, but I assure you my answers would have been completely different. Sometimes we need a clear mind to be honest with ourselves.
**As a side note I use my passion planner to guide me through this- not necessary but totally helpful!!**
Everyone needs a mental reset at some point. We start to feel run down, overworked, tired and like a robot going through the motions. If you take time to step back and allow yourself the ability to stop everything, you start to be more present in the moment and enjoy the little things in life. Then with a clear heart and mind, we can step back into every day life re-charged. Until it is time for another mental reset.
My intent for this year- a monthly mental reset. I wish I could make them all 10 day excursions, but obviously that is not practical. I am talking 1 weekend a month to do whatever it is that will help me mentally re-charge. I encourage you to take this challenge with me. Just one weekend a month. I don't think it really matters what you do for that weekend, as long as it makes you happy and feel re-energized.
I have spent a lot of time over the past year working to slow down my life and be more present in the moment. Here are a few other daily things that I have regularly started doing along the way that have helped me most- I wanted to share them with you to give you something to think about as you dive head first into 2018!
1. Write down your intentions. Actually write them down, don't just think them. Make it a ritual at the start of every month to dedicate time to this. Physically writing things down makes it feel more concrete and makes you accountable for getting things done. Sometimes we need to physically see the baby steps that get us to our bigger goals.
I have actually found that I look forward to this new ritual every month. Not just for the pretty pens I bought for this specific reason (because lets face it, that part is fun too), but for the mental clarity it gives me. At the end of each month I look at my intentions that were set for the previous month and see if I lived them. If I didn't, they make their way onto next months list, if they are still relevant, and the cycle continues. It helps me feel accomplished, yet still driven to continue pursuing my goals.
2. Start being grateful for what you have, not worried about what you don't have. Earlier in the year I read a book called "The Gratitude Diaries" by Janice Kaplin. Long story short- if you haven't read it yet, put it on your 2018 book list. It completely opened by eyes to living a grateful life and forced me to make some changes to the way I looked at things on a daily basis. Having gratitude in your life will help you feel more patient, lucky and determined (among many other things).
Again, physically keeping a gratitude journal or writing it daily in your planner solidifies that feeling of gratitude. Plus it is fun to look back on a few months down the road.
3. Meditate. This is a great way to clear your mind on a daily or weekly basis of all the noise in the background. There is no better way to be present and in-tune with your body than a little meditation. There are many books and resources that you can use here, but what helps me most:
1.Go somewhere quiet where cars driving by or your dog with a tennis ball won't distract you.
2. Schedule in at least 15 minutes to allow you the chance to get in the right mental state without worrying about what time it is and what you need to be doing next.
3. Start by stating your intension and turn it into a manta to focus on.
4. Practice self love. This one probably looks different for everyone. For me, it was focusing on my health and getting my workouts in. I very rarely step on a scale because it is not important. I work out to feel good about myself and know that I am doing something good for my body. Do I always enjoy it? Absolutely not, but in the end it makes me love myself more.
There are so many ways that you can give yourself a little mental reset but the whole point is you have to take the initiative to actually see its importance and put a plan into action. Everyone is wired differently and you need to be fulfilled in ways that are unique to you. I hope that I have inspired you to take a little time to slow down in 2018 to live a happier, healthier version of yourself!