BABY STEPS TO A BETTER 2021
Happier & Healthier With Eastern Medicine
If you’re like us, you were ready to say goodbye and good riddance to 2020.
Hopefully, 2021 will be better. And the best way to make that happen is by making small, sustainable changes to make you happier and healthier.
Sure, you can try to make big, sweeping resolutions. If that works for you, then go for it!
But if you’re like us and your new year’s resolutions usually end up forgotten and abandoned by mid-February, try out these baby steps to a better you. They’re small changes you can make throughout the year that will hopefully bring you mental clarity, physical strength, and the emotional peace to make it through whatever 2021 has to throw at us.
If you’re trying to be a better version of yourself in 2021, the first step is to be ready to change. Often, people are resistant to change because the unknown can be scary. Whether it’s switching up your Chipotle order, changing up your hair, starting a new job, or moving to a new place, changing up your life can be a risk.
But if you never take any risks, you’ll always stay exactly the same. That seems obvious, but take a minute to think about it. Is staying the same worse than taking the small risk of growing and transforming? If you want to be a better version of yourself, you have to be ready to embrace change.
Readjust Your Perspective
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “perception is reality.”
So if you want to change your reality and lift, you have to be ready to shift your perspective. And one of the best ways to do this is to be more grateful.
When we make a conscious effort to practice gratitude, our brains literally rewire themselves. And this rewiring means we’re less stressed, can sleep better, and have better relationships with friends and loved ones. That’s one baby step with a big payoff, if you ask us!
In Ayurvedic practice, this is known as Pratipaksha Bhavana, which is all about replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. Though you have to train your brain to do this at first, eventually it becomes a habit and you’ll have a healthier, more positive mindset.
New to practicing gratitude? Try the GIFTS technique. Take 5 or 10 minutes a day to write down or type out things you’re grateful for. These things could be:
- Growth: Thank yourself for taking the steps to grow and change this year. Maybe you learned a new skill, started meditation, or even started a gratitude journal!
- Inspiration: Did you have any “aha” moments during the day? What things, people, places, or ideas inspired you?
- Friends and family: Be thankful for the people who love you and make your life better.
- Tranquility: Search for those little moments of peace during the day. Maybe it’s drinking your coffee on the porch in the morning, going for a walk in between meetings, or reading a good book at the end of the day.
- Surprise: When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised? Maybe your barista put some extra cold foam in your coffee, or your partner picked up your favorite candy on the way home. Be thankful for the little, unexpected favors that people do for you.
Step Away From The Screen
We’ve all heard about the dangers of too much screen time for kids and adults alike. But these days, it can be hard to step away from your desktop computer, laptop, cellphone, tablet, or TV–especially if you’re working from home.
But unplugging and ditching the screen for even just a little bit can make you feel SO much better. Stepping away from the screen helps us be more present and helps us unwind a little bit throughout the say.
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), overstimulation (like the kind we get from working too much and multitasking) from a lot of screen time can rocket up our yang levels. Ideally, the amount of yin and yang we contain should be even and balanced. But when we have too much yang and not enough yin, we go into fight-or-flight mode and become more likely to get sick. Too much yang can also contribute to insomnia, headaches, stress, and inflammation.
So make sure to step away from the screens today for a few minutes–your body and mind will thank you.
Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
A lot of times, people give up on improving themselves because they feel like they aren’t growing fast enough or making enough positive changes. But if you want to make sure you stick to these baby steps, remember to go easy on yourself.
Sometimes you’ll make mistakes, mess up, or go back to an old habit you wish you could break. But remember that it’s ok, because that’s what baby steps are all about. It’s not about making big, sweeping changes that are super strict. Because let’s face it, we’re all just human and we’re not perfect.
When you tell yourself you’re doing a bad job or are overly critical of yourself, you can actually lower your own motivation. So stay positive and keep at it. Over time, you’ll see change and growth, we promise!
Pay Attention To What You Put In Your Mouth
Eating healthier is a popular new year’s resolution that shows up on lists every year. But when we say that you should pay attention to what you’re eating, we don’t mean that you should ditch your burgers for salads to drop some pounds.
Instead of switching up your diet entirely, start by eating one meal mindfully.
Mindfulness is a practice from Buddhism, and it’s sort of like meditating. It’s all about slowing down, being present, and acknowledging everything that’s going on with your mind and body in the moment.
Here’s a cheat sheet on how to eat mindfully:
- Get rid of any distractions before your meal. That means putting away the phone, newspaper, or TV.
- Eat slowly. Chew each bite 15-20 times. Notice the textures, smells and flavors of what you’re eating.
- Pay attention to your fullness level, and stop eating once you’re satisfied.
In Ayurveda, you’re even encouraged to start this mindfulness before you eat. You should prepare your meal or snack with a clear, peaceful mind and in a clean environment. And always take a second to think about where your food came from and be thankful that you have enough to eat. For more info on mindful eating, check out this blog.
Change isn’t always easy, even when we want to grow and improve. But when you focus on making small changes and don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake, it’s a whole lot easier to improve yourself. Just remember, every day is a new opportunity to be better than you were yesterday. So even if you incorporate just one of these baby steps into your life, you can feel good knowing you’re on the right track to being a better you.