With 2019 already here, many people are working on their New Year’s resolutions.
While you might be adding things to your life, like a new workout routine or a book club, experts say there are certain things you should be cutting out of your day-to-day if you want to reach your goals.
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In order to improve your overall well-being, it’s important to make space emotionally for positive change. To do this, you need to ditch draining patterns of thinking and unhelpful behaviour.
Here are four things to get rid of in 2019.
Let go of anger
If you want to become healthier, anger needs to go.
While anger is a normal emotion, unmanaged or unresolved anger has both short- and long-term effects. Some associated health risks include headaches, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and even heart attack.
Lay said it’s important to work through anger by acknowledging your feelings and learning to move past them.
“I’m not saying you have to become best friends with the person who is the source of that anger, or even like them, I’m just saying you have to let the anger go to the point of when you think of them, the anger is gone,” Lay explained.
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“You can do this by looking for the lessons from the experience or that person, trying to understand the situation from their point of view — even if you don’t agree with it — and practicing gratitude.”
Let go of resentment
Anger’s sister emotion, resentment, is also harmful.
“A lot of us tend to give the things we want to receive… in terms of time, effort, helping others and gifts,” said Vancouver-based life coach and counsellor Kira Lynne. “But if we expect things in return and don’t get anything, resentment can build up.”
When we start to resent someone, Lynne said we “build a case” against that person, which can negatively affect how we interact with them. This can damage a relationship in the long term.
To let go of resentment, Lynne said it’s important to be upfront about what you want out of any relationship.
“Do that by communicating with people and say: ‘Hey, this is what I’d really like,'” she explained.
Lynne also suggested that you should only do something for someone if you really want to — not because you feel obligated — and be OK if you get nothing in return. Moving away from resentment benefits your mental health, as holding onto the emotion affects you in the same way anger can.
Let go of negative self-talk
The thoughts we think and the things we say to ourselves impact our self-perception. If we constantly tell ourselves that we are not smart enough or are never going to achieve a goal, for example, we start to believe it. This is a form of self-sabotage.
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Lay said negative self-talk affects us in many ways: it causes stress, lowers self-esteem, makes us feel depressed and prevents us from making meaningful change.
“The best way to start the process of reversing negative self-talk is to pay attention to it,” Lay said.
To do this, Lay said people should write down their negative thoughts whenever they have them for several days.
“You’ll start to notice a lot of the same thought patterns,” she said. “Then, take your most dominant ones to start and write out the complete opposite thought on a separate piece of paper. Every day, pick up that piece of paper with the positive thoughts on it and repeat them to yourself.”
Lay said this practice helps to retrain our brain, and over time, you will see a change in the way you think and feel.
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Lynne said that self-talk has the ability to change your day-to-day functioning.
“When you change your thoughts, you change how you feel, and when your emotions and thinking is different, you behave differently,” she said. “You can create a whole different experience in your life by changing your thoughts.”
Let go of perfection
Instead of feeling less-than compared to others, Lay said it’s important to remember that people only post their best selves and rarely share their hardships online. Seeing people’s “picture-perfect” lives constantly can affect our mental health.
“Everyone has flaws and things they need to work on,” she added. “Embrace the fact that you are doing the best you can in any given situation.”
Lay suggests practicing self-care as a way to help combat the desire to be perfect. Not only does doing something you enjoy feel good, but it also improves your quality of life, she said.
She also suggests taking a break from social media to decompress.
“We’re missing out on all that life has to offer because we’re too busy looking down,” she said.