As we're coming to the end of 2021, I want to encourage you to give yourself some time to reflect on this year and celebrate all that you've achieved. Encourage yourself to focus only on the positive. I know it's easier to focus on the negative, 2021 has been a challenging year, to say the least. We've had to endure a lot! It feels much easier to focus on the hardships, the challenges, on what you didn't do or the goals you didn't accomplish. I'm asking you to redirect your focus on what you did do, what you did accomplish. Focus on all the positive things that happened to you in 2021.
I'm a big believer in setting goals and every new year I make a list of goals for myself. I write out what I'd like to achieve on the whiteboard that hangs in my office so that I can see my goals every single day. The truth is that this year I wasn't able to accomplish a lot of those goals. Most years I'm able to accomplish all and sometimes more of my goals, however this year, as well as in 2020, I wasn't able to do that. Life presented many unexpected challenges that caused me to switch focus and put some of my goals on hold. And you know what? I'm totally fine with that. I give myself grace, love, and understanding for the things that I wasn't able to do. Even though I didn't accomplish all that I set out to, I still accomplished a ton of other things! That's what I'm celebrating about myself and it's what I want to encourage you do.
In what ways did you make lemonade with the lemons you were given?
How to Celebrate Yourself:
There are many ways to celebrate yourself, here's one of my favorite celebration exercises.
Ensure that you won't be distracted by turning off your phone and letting everyone in your home know that they can't interrupt you.
Get a pen and paper and sit in a comfortable place that you feel good in. Perhaps you'll want to make a cup of tea, light a candle, and put on some calming music to further enhance the experience.
Close your eyes, allow a few deep breaths with long, intentional exhales, and begin reflecting on the year. Write out everything positive that comes to mind. Everything. Even the memories that seem too small or insignificant to count. Allow everything what comes to you to go on your list, as long as it's positive. Don't just write down the really big, seemingly more important things. Write out everything. The more you can write out the better! Let me give you an example.
One of the things on my list is that I went camping in the summer. Now that may seem like a very small and insignificant thing to write down. However it came to me as a positive accomplishment from 2021 so I wrote it down. You see I'm not a camper. When I think of ten different things I'd like to do on a vacation, camping is not on that list. But my kids really wanted to go camping this summer and my husband doesn't mind camping. He was up for it, I was not, initionally. I decided to challenge myself to be up for it because it was important to my kids. So we booked a camping trip and although it was a lot of work and it was not a vacation that I would have chosen, I did still have fun. Even though it may seem insignificant to acknowledge that camping trip, I acknowledge it and I celebrate myself for doing it.
This exercise will bring your focus on the positive and it'll help your body release feel good hormones: endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. When these hormones are released, you'll boost your mood and increase happiness while reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. There are so many great things that you did in 2021. So many things that you can acknowledge and celebrate yourself for. Many things you can give yourself a pat on the back for. Even amongst all the unexpected challenges you faced, you can find some positive.
Once you feel that your list is complete, place your hand on your heart. Read out loud the first thing you wrote down. Then close your eyes, put a smile on your face and say, "I'm grateful that I __________ (fill in the blank with the first thing you wrote down). Allow deep breath. Open your eyes, look at the second thing you wrote down. Read it aloud. Then close your eyes, put a smile on your face and say, "I'm grateful that I __________ (fill in the blank with the second thing you wrote down). Allow deep breath. Continue until you have completed your list.
Adding this last step of expressing gratitude for each thing you listed will further help you celebrate and release feel good hormones, while encouraging you to accomplish more. You've likely heard, What you appreciate appreciates. Gratitude is the practice that keeps on giving! For more on the practice of gratitude, click here.
With all the celebrating you'll be doing over the holiday season, don't forget to celebrate yourself. Then leave a comment and let others know what you accomplished this year.
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Looking for more tips to help you live well? Check out Your Live Well Journey - The Podcast, every episode offers ways to help you improve your self-care.