A brand new year is almost upon us, and it can either fill you with excitement at the thought of all the new things you are going to experience; or it can fill you with dread at the thought of all the new things you are going to experience.
It's all about choice. Yes yes, we get that life can be really hard. Here are 6 ways to help you make the conscious decision to stress a whole lot less and generally be happier in your everyday life in 2017.
1. Be kinder to yourself
Seriously, stop being so hard on yourself. You may already be facing pressure from school, your parents, even comparing yourself with peers. The last thing you need is to be tough on yourself too! Decide to love and support yourself heading into this new year, and choose to not be super critical of the way you look, the number of likes you have per Instagram post, etc.
The best way to start this is to be 100% honest with yourself. Ask yourself, would you treat yourself the same way as how you would treat your best friend? Or set expectations on yourself the way you would to him/her? Probably not, so maybe give yourself a break once in a while when it comes to comparing yourself to others.
2. Find healthier ways to cope
If you tend to deal with stress, rejection and frustration by downing an entire jug of Long Island Tea at Zouk before dancing up a storm and then end the night by puking all over yourself, or by bingeing on a Double McSpicy followed by 20 more McNuggets while watching Netflix for a week straight... then perhaps you need to change things up. These coping mechanism are not going to help your happy levels.
If your 'coping' leaves you feeling out of control then you need to replace it. Sure, you can head out for a couple of drinks with your friends or spend your Monday night watching cat videos on YouTube instead of going to the gym, but there needs to be a limit. If you head straight for the alcohol when things go bad, this can set you on a road to disaster.
Try and replace them with healthier alternatives. If you find the need to pound on something, take up kickboxing or set your feet to pounding the road by running. Sweat the frustration out. If you're more the unwinding type, take your mind off the stress with yoga, cooking, or just zoning out and not thinking about it (also known as meditation).
3. Don't be alone
Speaking of coping mechanisms, another thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to feel like you need to journey through life alone. When you're feeling down, it can be a lonely place. Why not make it a place where you can talk to someone you trust and that you know will be honest with you without judging you.
Alternatively, you don't even need to talk. Often by being around some trusted friends who understand and accept you for who you are, it's enough to lift up your spirits and take your mind off the negativity.
4. Tidy the hell up
Studies have proven that physical clutter can negatively affect how you concentrate and process information. So when you're feeling stressed out, the environment around you can actually be contributing to it even further.
So, if your room looks like a clothes bomb exploded inside there, or if your desk is like one big ball of paperwork nightmare, then maybe it's time to throw yourself a huge clear-out party and get rid of anything that you don't need and don't absolutely love. Your brain will thank you for it.
5. Practise mindfulness
No one is expecting you to read this post, and suddenly come out the other end as a total meditation pro and yoga convert. But perhaps just take a long bath and read a book instead of checking Instagram every 15 minutes. Mindfulness simply means to start taking more notice of the present, being thankful of the past, and to not constantly stress about the future or things that should have happened.
It does not mean to fool yourself into thinking that everyday is all rainbows and unicorns, it simply means to stop dwelling on things that are making you unhappy. In fact, if you take 5-10 minutes out every night before you sleep to take some deep breaths and not think of anything, it can improve your concentration and heart health by up to 40%!
6. Don't forget to think about the little things
It's easy to remember the saying, "everything that can go bad, will go bad" when things don't seem to go your way. It's times like these that by forcing yourself to do some reflecting, it can actually remind you of the many things in life that you can be thankful for. Pause for a moment and take some time to list 3 things that you enjoy in your life.
You may not have gotten those results you and your parents wanted, but you still managed to get into the course you wanted. You may have broken up with your gf/bf, but all your friends rallied around you during this time to let you know that you deserve a lot better. Every morning, the kopi auntie remembers your order without you even needing to tell her. These are all little silver linings in the dark clouds that we can be thankful for. Of course, this can be harder than it seems when you're actually feeling like crap, and you might not be able to do it all the time, but I highly recommend giving it a go.