2020 is ever so slowly coming to a finish! As fall ticks on we see a glimmer of hope heading toward 2021. After several sessions this week I recognized a trend appearing across my interactions. The theme was choosing to finish this unconventional year strong instead of just limping along to the end. It got me thinking, I too want to be on an upswing come December 31st. Are you ready to join in?
My motto these past months has mainly been “whatever it takes”. Some were strong with cooking new recipes, cleaning out closets, lots of walks and new books. Other months seemed to drag on as uncertainty would rise. The idea of putting the last months of the year to good use is certainly not new. However, it feels even more important this year than past ones.
Sometimes figuring out where to start is the hard part. Let’s look at three areas to help you focus on making the most of this unprecedented year.
This year has been a lot about just winging it, right? Make it through the day and get another week or month checked off. The days have had a tendency to drag on and some of it is just a blur. While the mentality of adjust and adjust again has been essential to our living, being intentional these last months will provide unforeseen benefits.
Living with intentionality helps us be in the moment. It helps cut out the noise and get more clear of our true wants and needs. Let’s simplify life. The holidays are around the corner and we tend to get busier and busier. No doubt, Thanksgiving and Christmas will look different. Maybe you decorate the house more this year because you just love the lights everywhere or maybe just your favorites come out. Begin planning now for bringing more joy into your life and less chaos.
To be intentional, you must slow down to make a choice. Otherwise, we get caught up in the day or week and decisions get made too quickly. You have the power to slow the pace down. We all know the saying “Less is more!” Less news, less social media, and less commitments can lead to more calm, more joy. Author and retired clinical psychology professor, Susan Avery Stewart shares slowing down also lowers stress and blood pressure, enhances decision making skills and restores emotional equilibrium. Let this be at the top of the list!
Plan for Wellness.
Fall is a great time to revitalize your exercise and food plan. Let these areas play off of each other in a positive way. The more you move the more likely you are to fuel yourself with good food. The more you choose wholesome foods the more energy you will have to move your body. Food is medicine and fall fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins to amplify your immune system. Moving your body on a regular basis increases your mood and releases stress by providing those feel good hormones called endorphins. Nourish your body in this area to feel your best!
Relaxation is essential to balance these last months out. Try not to think of this as the “if I have time” category. It is imperative we are slowing our body and mind down. Internally, we have all ran on full blast this year but it is simply not sustainable. Carve out time to meditate more, pray more, read encouraging books, or maybe even take a bath a few nights a week. You can also promote peace by having relaxing scents in the house, get outside more often or take a break from social media. Journaling is another great way to reduce stress and worry. It’s time to revive our wellness plan to fit this season of life.
Brighten someone else’s day.
Let’s find more ways to bring kindness and share love with others. Mayo Clinic research shows, “Physiologically, kindness can positively change your brain. Being kind boosts serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being, and cause the pleasure/reward centers in your brain to light up.” We may need to look for different ways to give this year as we are gathering in groups less and less. Expressing compassion for others is needed more than ever right now. What feels like the best way of going about this for you this year?
Maybe there are opportunities at your local stores focusing on needs in your community. Perhaps there are places to donate as you shop for the holidays. Make an extra loaf of pumpkin bread and share with a neighbor, Drop groceries off at someone’s house. Be generous with your “thank yous” when you are out and about. Drop off a note or send a letter to someone you miss. Spreading some extra generosity around will do us all some good!
Now, here is the critical step. Psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, at the Dominican University in California, led a study on goal-setting. The results? You are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Get out your calendar and write these ideas down! When will you move your body? What week will you try a new recipe? Which night is bath night? Carve out your meditation or journal time. Write in reminders to simplify your week and be intentional with your choices around the holidays. How will you spread joy to others? Balance your actions by adding in some grace time for yourself. If the week didn’t go as planned just move the goal and focus on the following week. The act of seeing these reminders will make you much more likely to get them accomplished. Be intentional, plan for wellness and brighten someone else’s day! Let’s end this year setting up an incredible comeback in 2021!
Kelly Cunningham LCPC, NCC, CIHC