With the holidays approaching, you may be busy making your gift lists for all the special people in your life. Have you paused to think about what gift you will give yourself this year? After all, YOU are the most important person on that list! We often get busy taking care of others, but it’s important to take care of yourself first so you have the energy to devote to the people you love. Find out how you can give yourself the gift of a lifestyle change this year.
Is there something you’d like to do for yourself to improve your health and happiness? Maybe you’re ready to commit to quit smoking or create an exercise plan and stick to it. Perhaps you want to find some healthy recipes and start cooking at home. Are you ready to give meditation a try? Maybe you want to create a budget and get your finances in order. Sometimes the holidays bring out our civic-minded side and you may be looking for ways to give back to the community. Maybe there’s a certain hobby you want to pursue but haven’t cleared time in the calendar for it.
BUT I DON’T HAVE TIME…
You’ve heard the phrase: “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you’ll have to make time for your illness.” Taking care of yourself NOW is preferable to being sick later.
Committing to doing something for yourself is necessary. As you learn to make yourself a priority and act in accordance with what makes you happy, you will see remarkable changes throughout your life. Committing to something that is important to you will spill over into other areas of your life as you experience more confidence and happiness. As you feel more fulfilled, these other pieces start to fall into place. Your positivity radiates to those around you, attracting more positive interactions.
Happiness is so important that it has been linked to several health outcomes. The Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley has identified six ways that happiness is good for your overall health: protecting your heart, strengthening your immune system, reducing stress, fewer aches and pains, combating disease and disability, and extending lifespan. Happiness relaxes the body and the mind, making it more resilient and less susceptible to both physical and emotional intruders. Based on those research findings, can you really afford NOT to do the activities that fill your cup?
Once you have decided what your “gift” will be, make a specific plan. For example, if you want to learn to play guitar, write down exactly what that looks like in real life. Maybe you take lessons once a week for six weeks and practice for 30 minutes two other times throughout the week. Specific goals will help keep you on track and remind yourself that this new habit is fundamental to your routine. Record your progress in a calendar or journal. Take time to notate and celebrate your victories, what you learned, and how it made you feel. This can be helpful to reflect later when life gets busier or you slip into old patterns of neglecting your own desires.
If you prefer techie gear, you can also habit track using apps on your phone. Whether it’s counting your steps or the number of hours since your last cigarette, apps can be a great tool that are always within arm’s reach.
Having a hard time sticking to your habits? Reach out for support. Whether it’s a formal online or in-person support group or leaning on friends and family, make your intentions clear and ask for help sticking to your goals. Even for goals centered around fun and happiness, make them a priority and have others help keep you accountable. Share your successes as well as your struggles.
Go ahead, treat yourself. Sign up for that class, take up knitting, commit to quit, volunteer at the local shelter. Whatever it is that improves your physical or emotional state, grab onto it and give yourself the gift of a lifestyle change. Life is short. Don’t miss out on all the amazing wonders available to you. Release the guilt and make yourself a priority.
You will never regret taking the opportunity to enhance your life.
FOR THE HEALTH OF IT: The Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley has identified six ways that happiness is good for your overall health…
- protects your heart
- strengthens your immune system
- reduces stress
- fewer aches and pains
- combats disease and disability
- extends lifespan