Looking to Improve Your Emotional Fitness? Consider This Week-Long Challenge
Feeling Stressed? Anxious? Pressured to achieve so much in so little time?
Follow this 1-2-3-4-5 plan, and give yourself the gift of improved emotional fitness this holiday season.
ONE check of social media per day.
Social media breeds social comparisons. While completely eliminating social media this week is ideal (and I challenge you to give it a try), the second best challenge can be working towards engaging less, reminding yourself that what you are seeing is only a small, handpicked snapshot into someone's life. Since no one's life journey will ever be the same, comparing them can be a mentally exhausting effort, with no clear benefit in the end. So, for this week, rather than focusing on what others are and aren't doing, make a conscious effort to focus on yourself. Set a timer for five minutes, get a quick social media fix (if needed), then consider it off-limits for the rest of the day. *Brownie-points go out to those who can fully abstain for the entire week.
Look for TWO positive experiences in your day - and share them!
When you're feeling overwhelmed, and your mind is racing with anxious thoughts, it is not so easy to see the good around you. Instead, it might feel more automatic to notice all the stressors on your plate; but, if you take a step back, it is pretty unlikely that all waking hours are negative, so it is important to put on those "nonfiltering goggles," and take stock of even just the "okay" moments around you. To make these moments less fleeting, share them with others: "I really enjoyed having lunch together today," "You did such a great job wrapping those gifts! Thank you for helping me out." or "I appreciate you taking the time to explain this assignment." As the saying by Wayne Dyer goes, "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." If we can see more positive things in our days, our view of our days will begin to change.
Pick THREE things to do mindfully.
When you do something mindfully, you give it your full attention - no multitasking, no rushing, no worrying about everything else you need to accomplish for the day, week, month, and even year. Choosing to engage in an activity with mindfulness allows you to be fully present in the moment, and as a result, enjoy the experience in front of you. Too often you may do something for the sake of getting it done, and find little to no enjoyment in the process. This leaves your days long, tiring, and with little motivation to get up and do it all again the next day. When eating lunch, focus your attention on your food - the taste, the smell, the colors, the texture - with no phone or computer to interfere. When folding laundry, notice each article of clothing - the colors, the patterns, and the feeling on your fingertips. Remind yourself that during a mindful moment, there is nothing else you need to be doing.
At night, give yourself FOUR compliments for the day.
This allows you to practice focusing on all you did do in a day, and even did well(!), rather than focusing on everything that was left undone; and, compliments don't need to be focused just on what you accomplished. They can reflect how you handled a situation - i.e. remaining calm when you know you could have reacted out of anger. When you focus on everything left undone, or the mistakes and faults of your day, you create the feeling of "I wasn''t good enough." If you struggle with low self-esteem, giving yourself four compliments each day is an excellent exercise to give yourself a much-needed boost.
FIVE minutes of light stretching/exercise each morning.
Start your day off feeling good physically, and make a good transition between bed and the hustle-bustle of every day life. After a night of sleep, your muscles are most likely feeling stiff, so why not wake them up with a few light stretches to get your body, and mind, off to a good start. For anyone who feels they need to start moving at 90mph once their alarm clock goes off, taking five minutes to turn back that speed dial can make a big difference in your day.
DISCLAIMER: The blog posts shared on www.StacySmithCounseling.com contain the opinions of Stacy Smith, MS, LPC, and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations or affiliates. While Stacy is a licensed mental health professional, all blog posts on her site are for informational purposes only, and are never a substitute for professional advice catered to your individual needs. Stacy Smith is not liable for any diagnosis, treatment plans, or decisions made based on the information presented on this website. Furthermore, commenting on posts does not mean a treatment relationship has been established with Stacy Smith.