In a world in which wannabe Instagram influencers are faking sponsored content and Kanye West news-snoozing apps are a necessary thing, it’s no surprise that many of us are turning to mindfulness to make our lives more “meaningful.”
However, with a huge proportion of our day-to-day spent consuming content online and (often subconsciously) comparing ourselves with what we see, learning how to switch off that part of your brain that chastises you for not achieving enough, looking good enough, being cultured enough, or being mindful enough is exhausting in itself.
Of course, what qualifies as “enough” varies by person, but whatever the level of fitness, intelligence, or success you’re aiming for, there’s one thing we need to do in 2019: be kinder to ourselves. Here are a few ways to do just that.
Bin the self-help books
Unless you’re the kind of person who is inspired by and sticks to the mantras sold in self-help books, save your hard-earned cash and don’t bother. Realistically, most of these books sell you ideas and attitudes you know already. It might be nice when someone rephrases and repackages those instructions for you, but you are the one who has to implement changes in your life, and you are the one who knows your mind and behaviors better than anyone.
For most of us, making a mental note of the attitudes and behaviors we want to change isn’t the hard part, it’s sticking to those changes that’s tricky. No self-help book will make you go to the gym four times a week, make you eat your greens, make you more mindful, or get you to do the extra work needed to get that promotion. So take a step back, break your goals down into bite-sized, achievable chunks, and start from there.
Also, if the self-help books you’re reading were purchased with the idea that they’ll help you live your #bestlife — whatever that means — just know that there are three unbeatable hacks that are scientifically proven to boost your mood, self-esteem, and general wellbeing: sleep, exercise, and sex. And like the best things in life, they’re free.
Learn to say no
News flash: nobody likes a flake. If you’re one of those who make plans regularly only to cancel at the last minute, stop. This applies to low-key hangouts with friends, extra commitments at work, agreeing to do someone a favor and not seeing it through — whatever it is, unless you have a genuine excuse, just stop.
Social anxiety and work pressure are real struggles, but nobody will thank you for consistently biting off more than you can chew and consequently letting people down, particularly if it happens all the time. This isn’t to say you can’t pull out of plans if you’ve had a particularly shitty day and just want to go home and have a bath — in fact, in those cases it’s recommended. But if you agree to numerous social obligations, knowing you’re likely to drop a few, just be straight about your much-needed solo time from the get-go, rather than saying yes to everything and letting people down later.
Equally, if you take on a bunch of extra assignments at work to prove how awesome you are and then either underperform or fail to complete them, what’s the point? Be realistic about your workload, your abilities, and your boundaries — your stress levels (and other people’s) will be reduced in the long run.
Stop throwing cash at every drop
As the fashion industry vows to get more woke in 2019, concentrating on sustainable growth and production methods in contrast to poorly made, poorly sourced fast fashion, you might want to think about applying the same tactics to your sartorial spending. You don’t need to cop every single drop to look good. Spending money you don’t have on tons of clothing and shoes you don’t need isn’t going to make you feel any better about yourself — it will just make you broke and stressed.
Instead, invest in a few well-made pieces, items you love that you know will last and are reflective of your personal style. Most importantly, dress for yourself and not the approval of others on social media. The last thing you want is to own a bunch of Instagram-approved garms you don’t actually like and a bank balance that doesn’t like you.
Don’t spend so much time on social media
The previous comment about dressing for Instagram approval filters into this point, too. Several studies have been conducted in recent years illustrating that, of all social media platforms, Instagram is particularly bad for your mental health. While the platform is a fantastic way to promote yourself, your brand, gather inspiration, and generally expand your cultural awareness, it also has the power to chip away at your self-worth.
As Instagram is so curated, it creates a culture of comparison. If you already feel you’re not living your #bestlife, scrolling through a feed filled with people who appear to be doing just that can make you feel worse about yourself.
So consider reducing your scroll-time. Rather than deleting your social media entirely, limit yourself to a specific period per day. Not only will it will do wonders for your self-esteem, it’ll boost your productivity levels, too.
If you break your resolutions, change them
Last year, Business Insider published an article that stated 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. To make your resolutions stick, the article recommended enrolling in an online course or two. That’s not a bad idea, although a resolution to complete an online course is easy to break, too. Honestly, though, in the grand scheme of things, breaking your resolutions is no big deal.
Perhaps we need to look differently at the idea of “breaking” a resolution and instead call it a “readjustment.” Rather than tossing your ego into the sea for failing to do X, Y, or Z post-January 1, reassess your goal and tweak it.
Thinking big is good but so is being realistic. Beating yourself up for failing to go from coach potato to marathon runner within a month is a waste of mental energy and won’t make you any more inclined to go running. It’ll just make you want to set fire to every jogger that passes by, and that vibe does not a happy head make.
The TL;DR here is to break your goals down into manageable chunks and change them if they become a burden on your mental wellbeing. That way, implementing positive changes to your lifestyle will actually feel positive rather than a chore, meaning you’ll feel less overwhelmed and less like a dick. The goal is to feel good, remember.
What will you do to be nicer to yourself in 2019? Let us know in the comments.
Next, we break down the transformation of crystals in popular culture.