It’s that time of year. A new year is about to begin and we start thinking of ways to make ourselves and our lives better. Maybe you want to head to the gym. Maybe you want to eat healthier, drink more water, be more patient, love more, stress less…… It’s a huge deal to do any of these things and if you are anything like me, I think I can just do it starting January 1 and forget all my bad habits. Then when January 5th comes around, I am already disappointed in myself and everything goes out the window.
This year, I am vowing to be happier and calmer. Dealing with a deployed husband and two young kids, this is something I am very much struggling with, but something that I can’t just turn my back on. It’s more for the two little ones who must deal with me every day than for me, and I am hoping that it helps make it stick a little longer.
Here is a list of things I am hoping will help, but I am no expert and these are not necessarily scientifically-proven, they are just reminders for myself and maybe you can find some value in it as well:
- WRITE! Write your fears, frustrations, accomplishments, failures, gratitudes– everything. This is something I am doing not only with this blog but with a journal I have at home as well. A dear friend of mine gave me a journal to write it while my husband was gone. It was something she did during her husband’s deployments. I also saw somewhere to keep a gratitude journal which is a great concept but we all have so many emotions and things going on in our lives that affect us. I find that if I can write it down on paper (or screen), it’s like talking to a best friend about it. Sometimes you need to let it out for it to affect you less. Writing has been an excellent outlet for me. It allows me time to reflect and process everything and not overreact. Starting in the new year, I may create a section just to write down only happy memories from each day so when I have extremely hard days, there is something I can go to easily and relive those.
- BREATHE! Take a deep breath, hold it for a second, and release slowly. This seems like a no brainer, but how many times do we actually heed this advice? When I am about to scream at the top of my lungs at my kiddos, I myself need a timeout. I need to find the calm in the crazy and not reduce myself to a toddler/preschool level of tantruming. If all it takes is 10 seconds of breathing to find even the smallest glimmer of calm, it is worth it than my kids crying because I overreacted about them picking up toys.
- ALONE TIME! Give yourself 10 minutes of alone time. Yes, WAY easier said than done. I used to get decent alone time before my kids woke up where I was able to start my day with a little calm (and coffee), but now my kids wake up and snuggle in my bed before we start the day, which I absolutely love! This just means I need to find it somewhere else during my day. For me, my kids rest at around the same time and they are in bed by a decent hour that I can find 10 minutes to myself. Not every family is as lucky as me, but I urge you to find 10 minutes to just be by yourself with no cell phone, no TV, no kids, no adults. Even if it means you take the dog for a walk when our spouse gets home or drive a letter to the post office instead of putting it in your mailbox, find 10 minutes to just be with yourself. Maybe you can only get 5 minutes locked in the bathroom (just try to start your 5 minutes after the banging on the door for you stops), or your drive home from school drop-off- find time with no distractions to allow your brain to process your day.
- CUT OUT TOXIC PEOPLE! Do you have a neighbor or “friend” who just rubs you the wrong way and every time you encounter them, you feel anxious and frustrated, cut them out. Trust me, this is another WAY easier said than done, but it will allow you to rid of that spitefulness you hang on to every time you see them and you will feel your heart and your attitude lighten up because they aren’t there bringing it down. Now, if you are like me and as connected by so many people through so many different avenues (clubs, Facebook groups, meet-up groups), you may not be able to cut someone out entirely. My best advice is to participate in whatever it is you are involved in pretending they aren’t there. Don’t allow their presence to shy you away from anything. Allow your presence be known and do your best to continue to be yourself and try to block out anything that is toxic to you.
- GO MEDIA FREE! Put your cellphone on silent and in a different room, turn off the TV, close the laptop. This can be combined with your 10 minutes to yourself, BUT wouldn’t it be something if everyone could put away all electronics and media for 2 hours at the end of the day when everyone is getting home from work and school and just be a family?! This is something I need to do better myself. I am so glued to FB and I absolutely hate it. I don’t want my kids to only know me with a phone in my hands. I am in a little bit of a predicament as we wait for my husband’s call and I don’t know if we will get one or not each day so my phone stays close, but I have to be better about not opening it up every 30 seconds and checking other people’s lives. I definitely have the FOLO– Fear of Losing Out, and I am going to do my best to leave in 2016.
- DO GOOD! Every week, do a random act of kindness. Random acts of kindness do not need to cost you anything. You can give a compliment to a complete stranger. You help someone load their car with groceries. You can allow someone to pull out in front of you or give someone the spot both of you are competing for. If you have a little extra change, pay for the person behind you at the drive-thru. Send a handwritten letter to someone. Pay for another table’s meal. Take a bag of popcorn to the Redbox. Take a quarter to the gumboil machine. Whatever little thing you do, it may make you feel silly, but it will also make you feel good inside.
There are so many other things you can do to try to be a better, happier, calmer you. Getting more sleep, giving yourself a break, reminding yourself how important you are, surrounding yourself with the right people, planning a getaway, doing one thing for yourself everyday, loving the person you see in the mirror. All of these are true and wonderful pieces of advice. I hope the 6 things I laid out for you though are simple things that everyone can incorporate into their lives. We all want to be happy. We all want to live calmer, in the present, lives. Try these out and see if they make a difference for your 2017 self.