Do you tend to be more of a pessimist than an optimist about the future? Maybe you’ve had a rough 2016 and are looking forward with trepidation to what 2017 holds in store. Or, perhaps you suffer from anxiety or depression and thinking about the future brings you more stress than hope. Whether you’re living with a mental health disorder or you tend to be a glass-half-empty person, here are a few ways to set the stage for an anxiety-free, successful year.
Goals are powerful, providing a sense of purpose and direction, while also giving us something positive to look forward to. Setting goals at the start of a new year is a tradition for many, but you don’t have to commit to a total lifestyle change as of January 1st. Set goals for each month or quarter as you look ahead to the remainder of this year. Write them down, and make sure they’re both achievable and measurable. That may mean breaking larger goals up into smaller, bite-size tasks.
Simplify Your Life
A successful life doesn’t equate to a busy, cluttered, and stressful life. In fact, many people find that simplifying and minimizing is exactly what they needed to change their lives for the better. Plus, a clean, clutter-free environment often sets the stage for creativity and productivity. Spend a few days decluttering your environment and simplifying your life by letting go of obligations that no longer bring you joy. Simplify your digital life, too, particularly if your social media feeds tend to cause you stress and anxiety.
Assess Your Mental Health
If stress and anxiety always seem to be bringing you down, you may have a mental health disorder. While seeking help can be difficult, proper treatment can make a tremendous difference in your outlook and help you regain your life. Untreated or undertreated mental health disorders can increase your risk of turning to alcohol or other substances as a coping mechanism, so prompt treatment is crucial. Don’t be afraid to talk to your healthcare provider – or even a trusted friend – with your concerns.
Adopt Healthy Habits
There are many different activities that can help to reduce stress and aid you in maintaining a positive attitude, from daily meditation to yoga, Tai chi, and even positive affirmations. Experiment with positive, healthy lifestyle practices until you find an activity that resonates with you, and then make it a regular habit. Having a go-to activity that helps to combat stress and relax your mind is one of the best ways to cope with the stressors and aggravations of everyday life.
Treat Your (Physical Health) Body Right
Avoiding substance abuse as a coping mechanism is one key to lasting health and happiness, but simply avoiding harmful substances doesn’t go far enough. Regular exercise is a powerful habit that benefits both mind and body, and the foods that you fuel your body with can have a major impact on your energy levels and your attitude. Commit to treating your body right by exercising regularly, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and getting enough sleep each night to allow your body time to rest and rejuvenate.
Setting yourself up for a happy and prosperous year ahead – and beating the anxiety that often accompanies looking ahead to the future — is about setting the stage for living a healthy lifestyle. Identifying helpful coping mechanisms to deal with stressors that pop up from time to time, adopting a healthy diet and exercise program, setting positive goals and simplifying your life by eliminating obligations that don’t feed your soul are essential steps in ensuring that you’ll have the best year of your life.
Jennifer Scott shares stories about the ups and downs of her anxiety and depression at SpiritFinder. She is an advocate for opening up about mental health.
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