Well, the joy/chaos of Christmas is over and it’s time to start thinking about those New Year’s resolutions. Now I know the topic of resolutions can be a bit touchy; some people are bound and determined to make a resolution that they’ll finally keep, and others have given up on resolution setting entirely. For years I blindly set resolutions that I had no hope of keeping, but I was naively optimistic. Then, I switched camps and became staunchly anti-resolution; I mean… how many people actually keep their resolutions, anyway? Now my views on the subject fall somewhere in the middle ground.
So with an eye to the big picture and setting realistic goals, I’ve come up with 5 easy New Years resolutions that can lower your stress level in 2014:
Meditate more often than you currently do – Mediation is a powerful stress reliever because it brings you into the current moment and keeps your attention from heading to the past or the future, where the majority of our stressors lie. The beauty of it is that there’s a type of meditation suitable for just about everyone; some forms involve sitting quietly, while others are more active like walking or coloring mandalas. The key is to find a style you like and then set a frequency and time limit that you know you can meet. That might mean 5 minutes a day, 20 minutes once a week, or 10 minutes 3 times a week… what ever works for you. The actual length and frequency are not as important as increasing the amount of time you meditate and doing it on a regular schedule.
Be grateful for at least one thing every day – Nothing takes the stress down a notch quicker than being grateful does, and gratitude tends to build on itself. It works by taking some of your attention from what’s wrong, not good enough, or otherwise not meeting your expectations, and moving it toward something more positive. When you first start a gratitude practice, you may only be able to come up with one thing a day (and that may be a struggle some days). But if you’re anything like me, you’ll find that in time it gets easier. Your gratitude practice can be as formal or informal as you’d like, but some common ways include: keeping a gratitude journal, saying a quick but silent “thank you” whenever something sets off your gratitude detectors, or including gratitude items in your daily prayers.
Get massage more often in 2014 – You knew this was coming, right? Massage not only eases stress-related muscle tension, it also causes the body to release a whole set of hormones that counteract the stress response (provided your MT isn’t a Hulking Helga.) Just getting one more massage than you normally get is all it takes to succeed at this resolution. Just sayin…
Try a new type of massage or bodywork. There are thousands of massage and bodywork techniques. Some über relaxing and stress-relieving ones are: hot stone massage, reflexology, shiatsu, ashiatsu oriental bar therapy, myofascial release, and cranio-sacral therapy. I only do a couple of these techniques (hot stone and myofascial release), but they all have an amazing power to relax you. Pick the one that intrigues or interests you the most and schedule that appointment. Use this massage therapist finder to find a therapist near you and check out this glossary to learn more about each technique.
Make your self-care more affordable.Save money by buying a package from your massage therapist; you pay for all the sessions up front, but in exchange you get a discount on each massage. You can also ask friends and family members for massage gift certificates for birthday, anniversary, valentines day, sweetest day, Hanukkah, Christmas, or any other special occasion you can think of. You can also save up for a massage; it’s easier than you may think. If you save just $6/week (that’s less than 2 of my favorite Grande chai lattes at Starbucks), you’ll be able to afford a massage every 3 months!
See. Didn’t I tell you they were easy and stress relieving?
Now it’s your turn. Are you going to set a New Year’s resolution this year? If so, what’s it going to be?? Let me know in the comments below! And if you liked this, don’t forget to share it throughout social media land.