Take it easy in the new year

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One year ago, we thought 2021 would pass quickly. The effects from the Covid Virus have held steady with many consequences. Those realities have ricocheted like a pebble skipping on a lake.

Harriet Phelps
Harriet Phelps

This year’s theme is “Easy Does It” with a hefty dose of focus on your mental health. Entering a New Year, we make resolutions to take better care of health, weight, finances, and family time. My personal method is taking inventory and letting go of the behavior that no longer brings positive results. My resolutions usually weaken by the second week and my good intentions have crashed and burned. Letting go takes about 2 minutes with a commitment to change something. A definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

Our brain is an awesome organ that governs everything we do and think. It is the brain that processes and ignites the body to action.

For example, we go to a movie and the brain does not discern whether the action is actually taking place or only being captured by our eyes. The brain has a hormonal chemical reaction to the thought and the body releases those hormones into the blood system. Some hormones are good such as the adrenals that urge primitive responses to fight, flight, or freeze. We do not have to think about these responses they are automatic. We have a natural alarm system in which the body produces cortisol when our stress levels are high. Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone and works with the brain to control mood, motivation, and fear. When stress hormones get too high it affects inflammation, blood pressure, blood sugar, sleep cycles, eating and how the body metabolizes nutrients. Exercise is the best antidote and helps reduce cortisol to more normal levels.

Here are tips to help minimize the stress and prevent anxiety or depression:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings and understand it is normal to feel sad and grief from losses. That could be the death of someone close, or challenges related to jobs, finances or health.
    Reach out to others. Seek out others in family, community, church, or social groups.
  2. Be realistic about daily tasks. Nothing has to be done perfectly. Manage your time according to your mood or energy. Do not overwhelm yourself. Easy does it.
  3. Choose the right time to discuss differences or important topics. There is good timing or bad timing according to urgency. If you do not have the energy then that is the answer. Table the topic and set a date to revisit the discussion.
  4. Stick to a budget. Gifting does not buy happiness and if you have over spent on gifts limit activities until you are caught up.
    What’s your plan? On the days that you have higher energy and are focused to manage a task consider what is needed and plan the steps. Combine like tasks together in the same day and create less distraction.
  5. Time out. We truly need to take time to rest. Turn off social media, TV, or anything else that has been stressing you.
  6. Establish a set time and limit to rest. Listen to meditation, pick a program that teaches breath and slowing breathing. It can be 10, 30, or 60 minutes in a quiet space without distraction. If you have small children to watch, ask a family member or friend to exchange time so they can unwind too.
  7. Seek professional help if you need it. If you feel your moods are not lifting or your energy is not recovering seek medical or professional help to regain your health.
  8. Learn to say no. Yes, I would like to do that with you but not at this time. Let’s plan another time together. Yes, but no.

     

    This story was first published in the January edition of InMaricopa magazine.