Happy New Year, everyone! As someone who is a firm believer in both the power of positive thinking and also in accepting yourself as you are, I am in a constant flux between “New Year, New Me!” and “I’m perfect just the way I am.” This year, I am splitting the difference and striving to celebrate the minor victories that I accomplish. After a lifetime of being goal-obsessed, all of the large goals that I accomplish only feel like stepping stones to other, larger goals, and all of my smaller achievements are completely overshadowed. I find myself creating new goals without celebrating the ones I’ve already completed. Not only will I overlook the small steps that I take, but I also have the tendency to guilt myself whenever I fail at my self-growth goals. Even if I’m not perfect and let myself down sometimes, I am striving to remember that where I am today is not where I was yesterday…and really not where I was at the beginning of 2019. I am striving to celebrate the small victories.
Not Taking Work Home with Me
I really wish I had a secret formula for how I’ve been able to shut my anxious brain off so that I could write post after post and sell book after book about the magic way I’ve found to stop thinking about work outside of work. Unfortunately, I have no clue how I did it. I overthink chronically and suffer from anxiety, so worrying about future things that are out of my control comes naturally to me. My work can be really stressful (and even when it’s not stressful, I will find a way to make it stressful), and I always used to carry that stress with me 24/7. Last summer, Dan and I took a couple of days off from work to just be together during a particularly stressful period at my job. My blog was also just getting up and running, so I had that stress to carry as well. After two days being with me, Dan broke down in tears because I couldn’t stop lashing out in stress and anger. That was the moment when I recognized that I needed to leave work at the office.
Between this moment of clarity and another moment this past spring where I vowed to be more confident in my work, I’ve started being able to leave my work at the office. I used to drive home from work clutching the steering wheel and having an ever-present feeling of dread. Now, I drive home and go about my evening, clearing my head during the few occasions where I do think about the stress that I dealt with that day. Even with events like my wisdom tooth surgery, I was somehow able to keep it out of my head until the week before I was going under the knife. Since this is a pointed difference from how I functioned previously, I’ve tried to figure out what I’m doing differently, but I just can’t figure out what it is. As someone who is very self-aware, this is really weird for me, but since this is such a good change, I guess I won’t question it. It’s great to keep work stress at bay. Sure, I still wake up from work-related nightmares, but hey, baby steps.
Watching New Shows
In last year’s New Year’s post, I mentioned that I would love to start watching new things. Depression can make it hard for me to leave my comfort zone and watch new things, but this year, I was excited to try a bunch of new series. I’ve watched all of She-Ra, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Disenchantment, and I started several more. I also rewatched several shows that I’ve already seen, but I was still able to add new shows to rewatch into my repertoire. It may seem silly to celebrate watching a new show, but when that new show means that I’m coming out of a depressive episode and am able to function more regularly, then I think it’s something to be celebrated!
Not Putting Sugar in My Coffee
I had a terrible sweet tooth when I was a kid. I ate candy and desserts whenever my parents would allow, and when I went out to eat with anyone else, I always gravitated towards sweeter foods. While my tastes have definitely changed, there are still some sweet foods that I will always prefer and some things that I will always need to sweeten. Up until recently, I only took my coffee with sugar or sweetener. I’ve been getting my sugar consumption down for years, but it seemed as though I would always need at least one packet of sweetener in my coffee. Now that we have moved to a new office where we have an espresso machine and an ice maker, I have been bringing oat milk into the office and making my own iced lattes like the strong, independent woman I am. This girl doesn’t need no barista!
Now that I’m making my own iced lattes with my own milk like a Real Adult™, I’ve decided to try not adding any sugar to my coffee. It took a few weeks to fully adjust, but by the end of summer, I was drinking my lattes without any sugar whatsoever. Even if I get my coffee at a coffee shop or diner, I no longer need to add any sugar. At this point, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Starbucks Holiday Drinks are too sweet for me, but with just one pump of flavoring, they’re tolerable. Which is good because I’m not ready to give up on Chestnut Praline lattes yet.
I’ve been practicing yoga for over a year now, and am surprised by the progress that I’ve made. As someone who has vowed to not make goals in order to avoid being unnecessarily disappointed in myself, I now find myself pleasantly surprised when I’m able to see tangible improvements in my practice. If I had set a goal to be good at any particular pose at any particular time, I may have missed my goal and given up. Instead, I just enjoyed my yoga experience and all that has come along with it. I’m about to dive into some yoga terminology, so bear with me (if you’d like my sassy definition of yoga terms, you can find them here). While I still maintain that downward-facing dog is not a resting pose, it has definitely gotten easier for me to do. It is now not only easier, but also more comfortable. I used to come down out of down-dog as soon as the yoga instructor allowed, but now I usually hang out in the pose as long as I can just to enjoy the sensation. I also never imagined that I would ever have the upper arm strength to perform a full chaturanga dandasana, but recently, I’ve gotten really close! I may still need to get stronger to complete it as fully as I’d like, but I’m closer to being able to do it than I ever thought I would be!
Driving More Confidently
When my office moved, it not only changed my coffee-drinking habits, but also my driving habits. As mentioned previously on here, I have always been an anxious driver. When I got my license in high school, I still refused to use it until I got back from college and started working. I drove myself to work every day at the old office, but that drive only involved driving back roads, no highways. Before moving to my new office, I was able to drive on highways for small amounts of time, and primarily when it was not rush hour. Now, I need to take several busy highways on my way to and from work. They are completely unavoidable. Some of the scariest parts of driving are now part of my daily commute. Anxiety is still constantly present and fuels a lot of my decisions while driving, but I manage to successfully navigate roads every day that I never thought I would be able to traverse! I want to make sure that I recognize that bit of progress.
The new year is a time to reevaluate your life and your habits. Make sure you take the time to appreciate all of the things you’ve accomplished in 2019 and get excited for all of the progress you’ll make in 2020!
Photography by my talented fiancé. You can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hope_grows_here/