By Brandon Hadi
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
It’s mid-February. How many of you have stuck to the resolutions you made at the beginning of the year?
This year, you promised yourself to achieve your goals. There’s a lot to do, and the clock doesn’t stop ticking!
We migrate to the self-help section of the library or the internet, break down our goals into small, actionable steps, and document our progress. But after the hustle and bustle of the holidays finally settling down, we feel the effects of winter settle in and stay. Even getting ourselves out of bed at a decent hour becomes a grand achievement. Sooner or later, we watch as our goals remain in the stratosphere of dreams and aspirations, while our gas tank of motivation runs dangerously low. We’ll refuel our rocket next year, we tell ourselves.
So what’s the trick? How do we keep our tank full all year long?
There’s no magic here. When we feel connected — both to others and ourselves — we feel fulfilled, and these feelings of compassion, understanding, and self-empowerment are what refuel us. By consistently filling up our tank, we can get to where we want to go. It’s as simple as that. On the other hand, a lack of connection can lead to feelings of isolation, lowered self-esteem, and a downward spiral of negativity — risk factors which raise mental health concerns. A balanced connection with yourself and others enables a healthier version of you.
So, how do we connect?
There are two main types of connection — your connection with others and the one you have with yourself. Connecting with others is vital. As social beings, we require a sense of belonging, understanding, and love within our social environment. Similarly, connecting with yourself means feeling at home within your own mind and body, loving yourself, and creating an inner sanctuary from the outside world.
Connecting with others can be as easy as choosing to call a friend or family member, instead of texting them. An added plus would be a video call. Hearing their voice and seeing their face reminds us of the times we’ve shared and memories created. Other ways include scheduling regular social outings or joining a social club that also overlaps with a hobby or interest you’d like to pursue more intentionally. Through these social interactions, we are reminded that we have, and can develop, relationships with people who love and care for us. We are reminded that we are not alone, and that sometimes, a life shared is a more treasured one.
The connection and relationship you have with yourself, however, is a higher priority. After all, you are the person you will spend the most time with. Therefore, it is vital for your mental health and wellbeing to do the things that make you feel like the best version of yourself. These may include keeping a gratitude journal, disconnecting from technology, or meditation.
Immersing yourself in a notebook and documenting three things each day that you appreciate is a strong way to feel connected with yourself — practicing appreciation for our health, close relationships, and belongings grants us moments of contentment. From here, no task is too daunting, and no cause too great to contribute to. Appreciation allows us to give freely.
Unplugging from your phone and laptop for at least an hour more each day has also been shown to increase overall productivity. Inundated with emails and social media, forcing ourselves to disconnect from these sources allows us to be fully present to experience life. When we unplug, we can use this time to direct our attention to the steady calm of our breath or mindfully experience the task at hand. This can strengthen your connection with others, as well as provide space to develop the connection you have with yourself.
Keeping an active lifestyle is another well studied way to take care of yourself and foster inner connection. Physical activity functions not only as a mindfulness exercise, but also releases endorphins, which ward off feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, and boost self-esteem and improve sleep. There are many ways for you to foster both inner and outer connections, and this is the perfect time to explore the ones that benefit you the most.
Balancing connection with others and with yourself can be very difficult and take time, but striving to find a balance that works for you and heals you, creates a strong foundation from which you can consistently feel energized and motivated to tackle your goals head on. With this in mind, are you ready to keep your tank full and accomplish your goals for 2017? Are you ready to connect?
Brandon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.