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Ever wonder why many of us abandon our new year’s resolutions so soon after we make them?
Perhaps we set goals that are unachievable, perhaps we set too many resolutions at once, or sometimes life just gets in the way and we don’t take the time to focus on them. So we just give up after a while and go back to last year’s routine. But this leaves us even more stressed, and we can’t ignore that feeling of failure and being stuck in a rut.
So this year, rather than making a long list of resolutions or setting goals which are too challenging, why not focus on three or four things that you know you can fit into your busy life. Things that can be done on a daily basis that don’t require an enormous commitment.
Just a few small steps and small achievements can do wonders, and can make you feel like you’re moving in the right direction, rather than trying to reach a goal which seems too daunting.
1. Do more of what makes you happy.
This seems like an obvious one, but the trick here is to think about the small things that make you happy, not the larger-than-life goals, and prioritizing them into your life.
We’re talking about everyday attainable things – a walk in the park, a massage, even a nap, reading, painting, writing. Think of your favorite pastimes and distractions you rarely get to do. We know that these are precisely the things that often get set aside for ‘when we have time’, but so often we can’t find that free time.
Scheduling in these moments of escapism into your life will give you something to look forward to. But most importantly, distancing yourself from the larger challenges in life, even for just a short time, and allowing yourself to enjoy these small treats will also decrease stress. And will give you more mental clarity to face the larger challenges when you need to tackle them. It allows your brain to re-charge and re-focus, and it gives your stress levels a mini-break so you’re ready to confront whatever comes next.
2. Take time to practice yoga and meditation often, even just 20 minutes at home can help.
One of the most common new year’s resolutions is to exercise regularly and lose those extra few pounds. So you join a gym, you vow to work out five times a week, you get a personal trainer, you set challenging weight loss goals and track inches off your waist.
But here’s the irony: all this self-inflicted pressure can very easily increase stress, which in turn increases cortisol levels in the body, which causes weight gain. Exactly what you’re trying to avoid!
So rather than pushing yourself to the limit, be realistic with your weight loss goals and exercise schedule, or you’ll burn out quickly and give up. Rather, commit to exercising every day if that’s what your body needs, but perhaps a couple of times a week follow a gentle 20 minute yoga practice at home instead of going to the gym and having a full-on cardio work-out.
Your body will thank you, since your muscles need the break to re-build, and you also won’t feel the pressure of having to go the gym every day. You’ll also gain extra time which you can use to do some of the small things mentioned above that make you happy.
3. Say yes to new adventures!
Getting out of your comfort zone and doing things which you normally wouldn’t do provides a whole new outlook on life and allows you a break from your everyday routine.
This does wonders to your health, to your state of mind, and most importantly to your happiness. Learn a new language, go hiking, join a photography class or a tennis club, volunteer at a charity.
Embark on a new adventure that allows you to meet people from different walks of life, and you’ll learn things you’d never learn from TV or hours on social media. It opens up your mind to new ideas, to new points of view, and to lifetime experiences which will stay with you forever.
Traveling to new places is one of the most rewarding ways to do this – discovering new cultures, new customs, food, traditions. And traveling on your own makes these adventures even more exciting and fulfilling, in fact most of the people who come on our yoga retreats are solo travelers, and many say that meeting other solo-travelers from around the world is a highlight of these trips.
Whatever it is that you decide to do, be open to new adventures and allow yourself to feel a bit uncomfortable, to then reap the amazing rewards of new experiences.
4. Surround yourself with less negativity and more positivity.
This one you can do every day, all day long, and you can start right away.
Science has proven that the more you think about negative things and worry about things that could go wrong, the more you tend to think about them. “The more you dwell on the negative, the more accustomed your brain becomes to dwelling on the negative,” said author Dr. Hanson.
And according to Dr. Judith Beck “The first step to stopping negative thoughts is a surprising one. Don’t try to stop them. If you’re obsessing about a lost promotion or the results of the presidential election, whatever you do, don’t tell yourself ‘I have to stop thinking about this.’ Worry and obsession get worse when you try to control your thoughts”.
So accept your negative thoughts, force yourself to challenge them (why am I thinking this? what is at the root of this negativity?), but then figure out logical ways to overcome them quickly and move on, rather than stashing them away in the back of your mind – they will only keep resurfacing.
When your negative thoughts are making you feel stressed and overwhelmed, take a series of deep breaths and focus inward for a few moments. This works and is a quick-fix for the immediate moment. However, regular meditation and a relaxing yoga practice can have a longer-term positive effect, and shift your mind to start thinking about positive things rather than focusing on the negative.
Just remember to keep it simple.
That’s what will keep you on track – not biting off more than you can chew. Pick one or two new year’s resolutions that are achievable, this will give you the motivation to keep going. And every little accomplishment will give you even more energy and motivation for the next thing. Then treat yourself to a new adventure, get out of your comfort zone, and embrace new experiences this year!
Yoga Escapes organizes luxury yoga retreats in beautiful places around the world, offering a mix of Vinyasa and restorative Yin yoga classes. Contact the Yoga Escapes team for info on upcoming yoga holidays.