Happy New Year! We made it through another 365 days around the sun...and we all know what that means! New Year's Resolutions.
Don't get me wrong, I am in complete support of anyone and everyone that is attempting to commit to making positive changes in their life; after all, any change, even the wrong change, is progress.
Can we take a moment for an honest confession? I have a difficult time sticking to New Year's Resolutions beyond January. It's hard. Life comes up and things happen. And then I spiral into a world of swirling frustration and disappointment followed by self loathing. Does this sound familiar to you? Because this is the story of my Yearly New Resolutions.
I'm encouraging everyone to re-evaluate their approach to resolutions. The dictionary literally defines "resolution" as "a firm decision to do, or not do something".
A firm decision. On the first day of the year. With no knowledge of how the year will go (2020 sure threw a few wrenches in resolutions). We are literally asking ourselves to make a personal contract that shapes our behavior for the next 365 days...with the expectation that we will have the ability to adhere to the decision regardless of bumps along the road.
How do those resolutions sound now? Overwhelming? Silly? Demoralizing?
Well, what if we didn't choose resolutions. What if instead we focused on re-alignment. We focus on "the change or restoration of a different state". A bit more vague, but I think the open ended leniency offers us the opportunity to grow while leaving room for mistakes, hiccups, and flying wrenches.
This year I want to challenge you to offer yourself chances or ideas to realign yourself and your goals. Let's find ways to shape our expectations and create positive lifestyle changes rather than set larger goals; especially, as goals implies an achievable end result--well what do we do once we reach our result? Set more? Does this cycle ever end? That's why I'm encouraging you to focus on positive lifestyle changes that last well, a lifetime.
One of my lifestyle re-alignments is to find ways to unwind and re-center after a long day of work or social outing. As an HSP it is so vital to make time to re-charge after using up so much sensory processing, otherwise we're left feeling drained and unmotivated.
However, this statement may apply to you as a non HSP. After all, we are all human.
How do you unwind? Reading? Screen time? Cup of tea? Naps?
Most people answer something involving screen time, according to The Atlantic over 55% of "leisure activity time" (including sleeping) is spent watching TV. More so, a whopping 88% of TV watchers have a second screen (like a phone) out while they are "unwinding".
But do screens actually help us unwind and re-charge? Absolutely not (well maybe a good Hallmark cry does). We could talk about the blue light affecting our eyes and our ability to sleep or we could focus on the concept that our brains are always processing input--and overwhelming it with sounds and visuals on screens is the opposite of alleviating it. Not to mention, if the content isn't engaging our minds are likely to drift off and still not focus or unwind. I don't know about you, but it sounds awfully hard to re-charge a tired brain by flooding it with more sensory input.
That's why I am recommending adding in quieter activities to supplement, phase out, or replace (whatever works best for you) heavy screen time. Maybe its knitting or cooking, perhaps reading or walking through the woods. Regardless of your tactic, remember any choice is better than no choice (let's re-iterate our opening message about resolutions and re-aligning ourselves in a positive direction).
Recently, I have found tranquility and energy through activities like watercolor painting or journaling. These outlets allow any pent up creativity to flow, but not add any extra stimuli to my quiet time.
I LOVE my "Water Color with Me: In the Forest" coloring book from Amazon. What could be better than bringing life to adorable plants and animals in nature--go for realism or paint in a fantasy kingdom in the woods! The best part is you don't even need to be "artsy" because all of the images are pre-printed; so if you're not the freehand type (or like something to follow) you have nothing to think about! Not to mention all the pages are heavy duty water color paper that prevents the water from bleeding...so for us heavy handed painters there's zero worry about splashing onto other pages.
I highly recommend investing in some form of creative color therapy to relax and re-align your mind. If you're not sold on painting woodland animals here's some benefits from Beaumont Health about coloring as an adult:
-reduction of stress and anxiety
-improved motor and visual skills (work that neural connection!)
I don't know about you but those all seem like vital benefits for an HSP, let alone any and every human being.
Moving on to another big resolution re-alignment: writing more.
For me that means two things: organization and journaling.
If you're like me and find yourself easily distracted by the world around you, you may be tempted to keep a calendar, agenda, or planner...only to forget about it 3 weeks into using it. Over the years I have tried countless planners with no luck for them being customizable to my mind; which is why I started buying blank notebooks and building my own planners.
By some miracle I stumbled upon the Minimalism Art Notebooks and haven't found a more perfect notebook to plan with! The pre-dotted blank pages help with making lists and keeping me on track each day; but the overall minimalism prevents the HSP in me from getting distracted or overwhelmed. Not to mention this is the perfect hard cover size to be durable on the go and fit in all my bags--making it super accessible and easy to keep myself on track.
The best part of a custom planner is that I can allot room for daily reflections or journaling on top of my organization! So I get to knock out two birds with one pen! While there are obvious benefits to planning our time (visually seeing how much time we have for ourselves, holding ourselves accountable to plans, or simply remembering to go to the dentist) there are several bigger benefits from Psychology Today.
-time management (more time for more relaxation)
-record keeping (I love being able to reflect on my thoughts or abilities to see growth!)
Let's think about the last point, "record keeping" a successful way to track progress. What better way to hold yourself accountable for your time and goals than to be able to reflect on your initial thoughts and see the progress you've made. Regardless of relaxation and unwinding, journaling is a wonderful way to keep yourself on track with your initial New Year's Re-alignment plans.
Honestly as an HSP, any routine or tool I can utilize to organize my thoughts and provide tools for reflection is a win in my (coloring/note) book!
I hope that this article has provided you with a fresh outlook for your 2021 personal plans and I want you to know you aren't alone in feeling overwhelmed. I'm here to support you.
And at the very least you've got yourself a snazzy new coloring book.
Let's work together to re-align ourselves with our larger lifestyle goals...one page at a time.