It’s a new year, and a new start, but with the gloomy winter days and the lack of sunlight, this time of year can be exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally. If you’re ready to tackle the new year but are finding it hard to get your footing, here are some easy-to-follow, common sense stress management techniques to help you find your Zen.
Practice gratitude. It’s always so easy to mull on the bad things that are happening or are about to happen, but negative thoughts just breed more negative thoughts, and on and on. The act of conscious gratitude–truly focusing on what you are thankful for and what is good in your life–will do wonders to your mental state. Yes, even when you can’t find a parking spot or it’s icy and you have to cancel your evening plans because you’re worried about falling. It takes practice, but by spending your energy on what’s good instead of what’s dragging you down, you’ll be in a much sunnier state of mind.
Take it one step at a time. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking about every single thing that needs to be done. When you feel yourself falling into a spiral of stress and worry, take a deep breath, calm down, and focus on the trees instead of the forest. Narrow in on exactly what’s causing you pain in that moment and think of a plan on how to make it less stressful. Whether that’s making a list, actually saying “no” to some social invites, or whatever else, making a plan and approaching it one step at a time will help you stay centered.
Acknowledge your feelings. The winter blues are real. If you’re feeling mopey and melancholy, don’t put on a happy face and muddle through it. It’s okay to feel sad! Your feelings are valid, and it’s okay to take time for yourself. Do things that make you happy and take care of yourself…and if you need a little extra help from a doctor or mental health professional, that’s okay, too.
Treat yo’ self. It’s easy to run yourself ragged trying to get everything accomplished. That’s why taking some time for self-care is so important. Keep blood pressure down with daily meditation or yoga, or simply relax with a strong cup of herbal tea. Anything that fills your soul and brings you joy is a good thing!