Conquer Life: Resolutions
- April 8, 2020
- Conquer Life
Spring is here, our environment is once again reborn, and the skies are teasing us with glimpses of sunny times ahead. With new beginnings just around the corner, the last piece to complete our picture perfect puzzle would be to say we’ve been crushing all our goals or new years’ resolutions made a few months ago. Regardless of the current global pause, we’ve keenly adjusted our behaviors and continue carrying on according to plan.
If that’s you, congrats! You’re on another level of human. But for the rest of us, we’re bound to have quite a few hiccups along the self-improvement path, especially with the current situation. What’s important to realize is that we don’t have to discontinue our progress just because the rest of the planet is on hold. In fact, it can bring us some sense of normalcy and routine in the midst of everything.
In case goals or resolutions haven’t crossed your mind this year, we have just entered one of the best periods in time to begin and we have a simple, yet powerful shortcut to get you started:
No need to break out a journal log or download new apps. Often times, the most effective changes that enable our success are the most within reach and require no spending. Which is why we strongly believe that just by giving this year meaning, you may find that
all of your actions will stem from intention.
With that in mind, we’ve created a list of one-word themes to inspire your intent for this year:
Before we’re off to the races, let’s think about what this resolution means to you. Why do you want to make this change? What spurred this on? What sort of new developments are you hoping this shift will bring about? Although it may seem excessive to think about a goal this much, you might just find an entirely different goal once we get down to the root of it all.
Let’s say our goal was to lead a healthier lifestyle – a very popular new year resolution. We may get ahead of ourselves and start filling our shopping carts with juice cleanses, meal kit subscriptions, memberships, and workout gear in all sorts of colors. But had we consulted with a doctor, dietician, or any qualified health professional before doing so, we could have received proper guidance from the beginning and saved ourselves a great deal of time and money by just making a few tweaks to our current lifestyle. Sure, it may not feel as exciting as a manic shopping spree, but taking some time out for reflection and planning is a part of setting ourselves up for success in the long run. With that scenario in mind, it makes you wonder if a healthier lifestyle was the goal or what we were truly after were fun, health-inspired purchases? There’s nothing wrong if you find that your heart was after the latter. We just could have directed our attention to lifestyle subscription boxes or Etsy rather than dropping money on a gym membership that would’ve made us feel guilty about hardly getting any use over the next 12 months. See? This is why it’s important to get down to the root of the motive behind your resolution. Although there is no wrong answer, we can’t confidently provide a solution that will make us happy if we don’t identify the problem from the beginning.
With that said, this carefully curated inspiration list is something everyone and anyone can use to make their everyday lives just a little better all year round.
Have you ever found your mind wondering about your to-do list or a cringing at an old memory during everyday conversations? Maybe it’s time to get acquainted with mindfulness.
According to UC Berkeley, mindfulness is our ability to “maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment,” including acceptance of our thoughts and feelings without judging them.
Sounds great, but why should we put effort into shifting our thought patterns to be more mindful? Because it improves our mental well-being, promote better sleep, boost engagement, reduce stress, counteract aging decline, and support weight loss efforts. Mindfulness meditation has been a great tool for mental health professionals in recent years since it promotes accepting experiences rather than reacting to them with a “right” or “wrong” way to feel.
Start small with 2-10 minutes of meditation a day and after a week, reevaluate whether you’d like to continue or even increase your practice. If you’ve never meditated before, there’s endless books, apps, YouTube videos, and even classes in your community that can guide you through your first meditation session. The point is to let go of everything going on in your life outside of that space in order to zone in on your current surroundings, sensations, and emotions without judgement.
While meditation is an amazing practice, you don’t have to sit in still silence in order to do so. We can implement bits of mindfulness into our everyday lives with small, conscious acts such as taking a pause to breathe when the phone rings instead of answering right away or take a moment to feel the door handle in your hand before going inside.
Just remembering that you are not your thoughts and emotions can help you observe them without judgement. You are a completely separate entity watching them come and go – no labels, just simple acknowledgement. By truly taking it all in, we are being more present in the moment and better able to connect with ourselves and those around us.
Even though discipline is the antithesis of the popular #YOLO mindset, have you ever regretted not having to live through the consequences of a detrimental impulse? Our inner child may not be pleased to hear that self-discipline plays a major role in developing our long-term happiness. According to this study by the University of Chicago, “Self-control positively contributes to happiness through avoiding and dealing with motivational conflict.”
We’re not going to move mountains overnight. But we can start by setting small, realistic changes and removing obstacles. But in order to do so, we have to be honest with ourselves in identifying our weaknesses (aka obstacles) in order to address those obstacles and be realistic with our capacity to make a number of changes all at once.
Now that we have the groundwork laid out, let’s put it into practice. Say we’re trying to cut down on sugary snacks, a good place to start is being honest about our consumption. From there, we can have a realistic change in mind (perhaps one teaspoon on sugar rather than two in the coffee), limit access to the sugary supply at home, and give yourself an alternative snack for those times you just know you’ll get a craving. If you think about it as setting yourself up for success instead of discipline, you might be more inclined to be fully transparent with yourself and even have some fun along the way.
By 2020, we’ve all most likely heard of burnout here and there. If you’re not familiar with the term, according to the World Health Organization, it is chronic workplace stress characterized by exhaustion, detached or cynical feelings towards one’s occupation, and reduced professional efficacy. If you find yourself constantly exhausted no matter how much you rest during your day off, you may very well be burned out.
What may complicate our acceptance of an exhaustive state is our culture’s current love affair with a “stressed is blessed” mentality. From well- established news outlets to social media influencers, entrepreneurial endeavors have become somewhat of a norm. If you’re not monetizing your hobbies or interests into side hustles, then you might give off the impression that you’re complacent with your current standing in life. While a healthy dose of ambition is fantastic, this current hustle trend can easily lead us to believe that constant stress is normal and there’s something wrong with us for not being able to manage. This is highly unsustainable and if a burned out state is left untreated, one can gradually fall into depression and anxiety, which will not only impact our work relationships, but our personal lives as well.
Since burnout is specifically related to workplace stress and a career change isn’t realistic for most, there are some steps we can take to remedy the effects and bring ourselves back to a healthy state of being, such as:
- Share the load with those closest to you. Expressing those feelings with loved ones will surely lighten that mental weight, especially with a bit of sympathy in return. It won’t make you a burden, it’s actually pretty flattering to have someone trust you enough to open up.
- Find value in your work. Focusing on how your role benefits others or how you’re making the world a better place can give you a new sense of purpose. If not within your job, perhaps taking up some volunteer work or developing new hobbies will do the trick. The point is to find new meaning in what you do and how you piece into the bigger picture.
- Make time for exercise. Even though it may be the last thing you want to do, exercise is proven to be an amazing stress reliever and energy booster due to the endorphins released from physical activity. Because it promotes neural growth, exercise has the ability to improve our memory and learning capabilities – feel better and be more efficient.
- Recharge with some time off. If it’s within your means, go for it! Use up your vacation days and take the time to focus on yourself and how to reset and recover. Taking some time out of a stressful situation can help put things into perspective and perhaps reevaluate choices that can keep us from falling back into the same cycle.
Like a shoe that’s slightly too small, negative remarks, attitudes, and thoughts will have a wear on your overall mood by the end of the day. Little by little, they pile up. And like that small shoe, you’ll find that you’re in need of a bandage for the wound on your heel that seemingly popped out of nowhere.
An easy way to set a positive tone to your day is by spending a few minutes each morning listing off what you’re thankful for. This rewires your brain to think about what you do have going for you instead of focusing on what you’re missing. Start off with something as simple as being grateful for having a roof over your head or being able to pay your bills and expand on why that’s important to you.
But if you’re not there yet, perhaps smiling a little more is your speed. When you flash a smile across your face, your brain releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin – the happy neurotransmitters that relax your body and enhance your mood. Your brain reads into your facial muscles in order to do this, so even a fake smile will have the same effect.
Do people say you’re “sarcastic” or “sassy?” Great, use that to your advantage. Simple changes in your language can get the ball rolling for a positive tone, even if you have to use sarcasm. Instead of going “this check-out line is going to take forever” you can say “I can get my taxes done, take up a new hobby, and have another kid by the time I get through this line.” You’ll give yourself a laugh and work on your stand-up comedy routine at the same time.
Hopefully this list has given you a sprig of inspiration to jumpstart your intention for this year. Bettering ourselves is a lifelong journey. Perfect change doesn’t happen over night, so enjoy the adventure and take it in stride one day at a time.
At West Loop Ortho, we’re in the business of increasing confidence through beautifully transformed smiles. But more importantly, we want to empower humans to be their best self. That’s why we created the Conquer Life blog series as part our patient’s (and non-patient’s) arsenal to #conquerlife.
The West Loop Orthodontics office has been providing accessible, high-quality ortho services in the downtown Chicago area since 2016. We strive to give our patients the best, which is why we exclusively use world-renowned products in our office.
Our highly trained, Board Certified Orthodontists are known to handle some of the most complex braces and Invisalign cases in the city of Chicago.
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