Getting into shape is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions, and for good reason. All those holiday treats will make anyone feel like they need to repent.
But one of the most overlooked New Year’s resolutions is getting in shape mentally. Why focus on mental strength? As we become mentally stronger, many of our other goals become easier to accomplish.
Here are 3 moves to help uplift and strengthen your mind.
1. Organize and Prioritize Your Time
Perhaps Benjamin Franklin said, “for every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” When you organize your day, whether in a planner, an app, or sticky notes, it can help keep your mind free from clutter. It is a small investment of time for a large payoff throughout the day. Of course, not everything will go according to plan, but when you organize your time, it’s easier to adapt to the changes.
Prioritize Yourself: While you’re planning, remember to carve out time for yourself. Be strategic. Set aside 10 minute here and there to meditate, go on a walk, or relax in a sunny spot. Use this time to recenter yourself. This window lets you find solutions to your day-to-day problems or to simply take a mental break.
Time for yourself doesn’t need to wait for the end of the day. Studies show that micro-breaks throughout the day can improve work performance and increase productivity. In the military, soldiers train to take tactical pauses which allow them to relax their minds and make sound decisions in high-stress situations.
Prioritize Social Time: Just like you help others, they can help you along your journey. Taking the time to connect with others helps strengthen your relationships. Whether it’s acts of service, dropping by to say hello to an old friend, or going to the movies with someone for the first time since the pandemic, being with those you care about will improve your mental wellbeing. Building stronger social relationships allows you to better uplift yourself and others.
2. Use Movement to Improve Your Mood
You know those judgmental reminders your smartwatch gives you to stand up? It may not be a bad idea to listen. The simple act of standing up helps regulate blood flow and resets the gradual “hunch” we take on from too much sitting. If you take it a step further by taking a quick walk, you can also reset your mental well-being. Studies have shown that a break, coupled with deep breaths “settles the nervous system and garners peacefulness.” It’s easy to get absorbed and lose hours to a project. But regular breaks (at least every 90 minutes) are essential to maintaining sharp focus and defusing stress.
When setting goals that focus on your physical wellbeing, make sure that they are not causing you added stress. The overall effect of exercise should be a more relaxed feeling. To reduce stress, try out some of these exercises suggested by Harvard Medical School:
- Aerobic exercises like hiking, running, rowing, biking, and dancing.
- Breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation.
- Yoga or stretching.
- Strength training—just don’t throw the weights!
If you’ve noticed that a fitness goal can make you feel over-scheduled and erode your happy vibes, track your progress with journaling rather than with your scale, social media, or a fitness app.
3. Focus on Developing a Winning Mindset in 2022
Did you know that you could lose and still be a winner? It may seem like a paradox, but it’s true. It all depends on whether or not you have a winning mindset—because losses are going to happen. But there’s always something to be learned or gained from a loss.
For example, you’ve had to skip breakfast because you’re running late. That’s a loss that could drag your mood into a spiral. But a winning mindset takes a beat to feel gratitude: you have somewhere to go where you’re needed and appreciated. Plus, you’ve now learned to keep a healthy grab-and-go breakfast option in your fridge.
As difficult as it may be in the moment, challenge yourself to find that silver lining when facing life’s little storms. This daily practice will make your mindset more resilient when life deals you a tornado.
As you seek to have a winning mindset in 2022, become an excuse-maker. Come up with excuse after excuse for why you should push through, why you shouldn’t give up, and why the difficulty you face will make the victory that much sweeter. In doing so, you uplift your attitude and put our human tendency to make excuses to work for yourself.