The year-end holidays are behind us and we have once again turned the calendar to January.  In the spirit of a new year, January is traditionally the time when many of us set resolutions for change, improvement and new behaviors.  But alas, in spite of our best intentions and sincerity, as the weeks and months go on, we often lose our focus on following through on those newly defined behaviors.  This can be extremely demoralizing and defeating, but does not have to happen.

This year, YHC is staying focused on helping youth, families, communities, and professionals learn about stress and ways to live better and healthier lives.  With that in mind, I will start the year with some suggestions on how to realistically set a goal, and then plan for and act on its achievement.

First, I would like to challenge you to choose one thing you can do to make a small but positive change in your daily living that will make you feel better.  In doing so, consider the following guidelines:

  • Make the goal realistic, possible, doable, and approachable
  • Develop a concrete plan for what the goal is and how you will achieve  it
  • Write down your plan and review it daily
  • Tell someone you love what you are doing and ask for their support
  • Take repeated actions toward achieving the goal for 21 days in a row
  • Give yourself daily credit for doing it;  an “Atta Girl” or “Way to Go”
  • Remind yourself that even a marathon is run one step at a time; baby steps
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you slip but get back at it after addressing what happened to derail you

There are also other things you can do to support achieving your goal by better coping with the natural stress that comes with life:

  • Focus on gratitude
  • Exercise, eat nutritious food, and get regular, sufficient sleep
  • Live with rational optimism, laugh and maintain a sense of humor
  • Practice meditation and breathing exercises
  • Journal
  • Surround yourself with loving supportive relationships, practice random acts of kindness, do something that matters and is a contribution,

In a recent presentation, Suzanne Brownell of Health Thyself suggested that three minutes of targeted breathing exercises each morning can make a difference.  She offered that doing this just before or after brushing your teeth in the morning connects it to an existing and natural ritual.  Even something that small and simple can make a big difference and create a “mini-moment”.

Healthy change should not be overwhelming or imposing, as that leads to collapse.  Build with small, steady baby steps, just like we did when we all learned to walk.

Now, breathe and keep breathing.  It will fill your heart and soul with peace.

Happy New Year…today and every day!