22 Days Of Doing Better: Day 6
Trying to live your best life in 2018 — or at least a better one? We’re here to help with #DoBetter2018, a 22-day series of how-to articles to help you achieve some of the most common New Year’s resolutions and personal growth goals.
Many of us underestimate the power of the things we consume in a day and the impact all of it can have on us. I’m not talking about food, but rather, the energies we receive from people and things and the ways in which they can alter our spirit and mental health.
Take for instance our social media consumption. A study done in the U.K. in 2017 of 1,500 young people found that Instagram, perhaps the most popular of social media apps, is the most detrimental to their health. The author, Matt Keracher, said of the findings that Instagram leads people to “compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality.”
And think about the way we deal with all the less than positive news out there, particularly when it comes to politics. Everything we see on cable news is “Breaking news” and none of it calms our nerves. Back in 2012, way before we had a reality TV star as our president, a study was done in Montreal and found that women participants were remembering more details of, and therefore, finding themselves more stressed about negative news stories than men.
“When our brain perceives a threatening situation, our bodies begin to produce stress hormones that enter the brain and may modulate memories of stressful or negative events,” said Sonia Lupen, one of the researchers involved in the University of Montreal study.
And how can we forget the people we are confronted with on a daily basis? The text thread you’re in that only involves talking about gossip? The people you have to deal with at work? The less than healthy relationship you’re in? The one-sided friendship?
The people who treat us poorly or bring nothing but drama to our lives mess with our stress levels, and in turn, dampen our spirit. But those who make us laugh, who keep us optimistic and overall are happy people, make us happy too.
So in 2018, start your year off fresh and much more drama-less by taking strides to guard your spirit. Avoid putting yourself in situations and places with people who send your blood pressure rising. Sidestep surfing social media into the wee hours of the morning, taking in all of the harmful, stressful messages that are hiding in between the fun photos and videos. Back away from the headlines that immediately make you let out a sigh of exasperation. While we can’t control everything, we can control how we let these things affect us. The better the guard you have up around your mind and spirit, the better off you will be. And also, the energy you exude will be more positive.
“Your atmosphere colors your perception of your life,” says life coach Diane Case and author of the book, Write for Recovery. “I recommend that people look at the atmosphere they carry around with them. The auras around them. What they walk into a room with. Do you walk in with dark energy? There are ways to lighten the energy that you communicate to others.”
Case is an advocate of using writing to help us deal with negative emotions and circumstances, which is a big part of guarding your spirit.
“Writing helps you be more mindful of yourself and what you’re going through,” she said. “When you explore the atmosphere you carry with you in writing, you can also talk about having a protective aura around you. You have a boundary so that other people’s negative energy doesn’t get to you.”
She also says that being focused on the great things that happen in a day, as opposed to dwelling on the less than positive aspects, is a great way to take care of one’s inner peace.
“It’s a very nice habit to get into to write down everything somebody says to you that’s nice during the day, and everything you do to help others and others do to help you,” Case said. “Take all that in.”
While it is often easier said than done, guarding the spirit is a huge part of practicing the self-care we all claim we want to do more of. And more than anything, it’s how we preserve ourselves. Sometimes we have to go to great lengths to feel and be our best selves, so as you go through this new year, don’t feel as though it’s selfish to make a conscious effort, even in the smallest of ways, to nurture your spirit. Make caring for you, as opposed to only caring for others, your priority.