3 Ways to End The Year Positively

By Kelly Cunningham

2020 is ever so slowly coming to a finish.  As we head into the winter months, all of us are looking for a glimmer of hope heading towards 2021. After several sessions this week, I recognized a trend appearing across my interactions. The theme was choosing to finish this unconventional year strong instead of just limping along to the end. It got me thinking…I, too, want to be on an upswing come December 31st. Are you ready to join in?

My motto these past months has mainly been “whatever it takes”. Some months I was strong with cooking new recipes, cleaning out closets, taking lots of walks, and reading new books. Other months seemed to drag on as uncertainty would rise.  The idea of putting the last months of the year to good use is certainly not new.  However, it feels even more important this year than past years.

Sometimes, figuring out where to start is the hardest part.  Let’s look at three areas to help you focus on making the most of this unprecedented year. 

Be Intentional

This year has been a lot about just winging it, right?  Make it through the day, and get another week or month checked off. The days have had a tendency to drag on, and some of it is just a blur. While the mentality of “adjust and adjust again” has been essential to our living, being intentional these last months will provide unforeseen benefits. Susan Avery Stewart, author and retired clinical psychology professor shares that slowing down lowers stress and blood pressure, enhances decision making and other cognitive functions, and restores emotional equilibrium.

Living with intentionality helps us to be in the moment. It helps cut out the noise and have more clarity of our true wants and needs. Let’s simplify life. The holidays are here and we tend to get busier and busier around this time. No doubt, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas will look different. Maybe you will decorate the house more this year because you just love the lights everywhere, or maybe just your favorites will come out.  Begin planning now to bring more joy into your life and less chaos.

To be intentional, you must slow down to make a choice. Otherwise, you can get caught up in the day or week, and decisions are made too quickly. You have the power to slow the pace down. We all know the saying, “Less is more!” Less news, less social media, and less commitments can lead to more calm and more joy.

Plan for Wellness

Fall is a great time to revitalize your exercise and food plan. Let these areas play off of each other in a positive way. The more you move, the more likely you are to fuel yourself with good food. The more you choose wholesome foods, the more energy you will have to move your body. Food is medicine, and fall fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins to amplify your immune system.  Moving your body on a regular basis increases your mood and releases stress by providing those feel-good hormones called endorphins.  Nourish your body in this area to feel your best!

Relaxation is essential to balance out these last months. Try not to think of this as the “if I have time” category. It is imperative to slow down our bodies and minds.  Internally, we have all run on full blast this year, but it is simply not sustainable. Carve out time to meditate more, pray more, read more encouraging books, or maybe take a bath a few nights a week. You can also promote peace by having relaxing scents in the house, getting outside more often, or taking a break from social media. Journaling is another great way to reduce stress and worry. It’s time to revive our wellness plan to fit this season of life.

Brighten someone else’s day.

Let’s find more ways to bring kindness and share love with others. Mayo Clinic’s research shows, “Physiologically, kindness can positively change your brain. Being kind boosts serotonin and dopamine which are neurotransmitters in the brain that give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being, and cause the pleasure/reward centers in your brain to light up.” We may need to look for different ways to give this year as we are gathering in groups less and less. Expressing compassion for others is needed more than ever right now.  What feels like the best way of going about this for you this year?

Maybe there are opportunities at your local stores which focus on the needs in your community. Perhaps there are places to donate as you shop for the holidays. Make an extra loaf of pumpkin bread, and share with a neighbor. Drop groceries off at someone’s house.  Be generous with your “thank yous” when you’re out and about. Drop off a note or send a letter to someone you miss. Spreading some extra generosity around will do us all some good!

Now, here is the critical step. Psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University in California, led a study on goal-setting with nearly 270 participants. The results…you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Get out your calendar, and write these ideas down! 

  • When will you move your body?  
  • What week will you try a new recipe?  
  • Which night is bath night? 

Carve out your meditation or journal time. Write in reminders to simplify your week, and be intentional with your choices around the holidays. How will you spread joy to others? Balance your actions by adding in some grace time for yourself. If the week didn’t go as planned,  just move the goal and focus on the following week.  

The act of seeing these reminders will make you much more likely to accomplish them. Give yourself some extra encouragement, too. Write out love notes to yourself.  Be intentional, plan for wellness, and brighten someone else’s day!  Let’s end this year by setting up an incredible comeback in 2021.

(Image: Shutterstock)

About Kelly Cunningham
Kelly Cunningham is a professional counselor, integrative health coach, holistic health practitioner, and Nutritious Life Certified nutrition coach. She currently resides in Southern California providing services to a national client base.

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