When 2019 Shakes Your World, Start Where You Are

By Marilynn Preston

January 15, 2019 5 min read

We're past the 50-yard line of the first month of the new year. What have you got to show for it? Of course, I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Are you physically active at least three times a week as you promised yourself when your favorite jeans mysteriously shrunk two sizes between Thanksgiving and New Year's?

Are you working smarter and getting more accomplished because you've been meditating every morning and limiting your screen time interruptions to a modest 15 times a day?

Are you still spending your nights with Netflix, wishing you had the nerve to show up at belly dancing class, now in session at your local community center?

If you can scheme it, you can do it, even if this January feels chillier than usual with so many people unhappy about how things are going. The government shut down. Our magnificent planet deteriorating. Tales of Trump.

My question is personal: How is it going for you?

My answer: Continue to build self-awareness about your well-being this year, even if you're not putting it to perfect use. Notice things you never noticed before.

Like how much time you spend on social media.

Like how much time you're spending on activities that bring joy.

Like how satisfied or dissatisfied you are with the way you eat, the energy you have, the friends you can count on.

Of course, it's all prelude to doing something about it for the next 11 months, but for now, for this moment, just notice.

Are you getting at least seven hours of sleep every night?

Are you constantly feeling a low level of toxic anger — toward your boss, your kids, the entire U.S. Senate?

Shining a light on our own well-being is something we can — and must — do, if we want to see the path we're on.

Just notice.

The more you pay attention to the little things in your life — how much water you drink, how much sugar you crave — the more easily the big things can come into better alignment.

So start where you are. Even if you can't walk two blocks without your heart pounding and your knees aching, do what you can. If it's 50 steps today and double that a few days later, that's great. It's not the number; it's the trend.

And this is crucial to behavior change, so please make it your habit: Thank yourself when you're finished, even if all you've done is put on your walking shoes and come back home after 10 minutes. Be grateful you have a home to come back to.

Start where you are ... even if you can't do a single downward dog in yoga class because your hamstrings hurt and your back feels wonky. Find a therapeutic yoga class and learn about your own anatomy so that over time, you can sense how to open space in your hamstrings, balance your sacrum, breathe into the small of your back. (Oh, boy, is that a great feeling of release!)

Start where you are ... even if you're already an accomplished tennis player or runner and just want to get better. Time with a coach — more affordable if shared with a friend — can help you set new goals and perform better than ever.

Or maybe you'd rather start all over in 2019 as a beginner in a new activity that calls to you. Cooking? Drumming? Fencing? Be curious about different ways to move your body and engage your mind, because that kind of cross-training —physically and mentally — builds new pathways in your brain.

My final question: What one new brain pathway would you like to build in 2019?

Your homework: Choose one area of your well-being you'd like to see improve in the coming months. We've just touched on a bunch of things you could do ... more exercise, more sleep, less time on your devices ... but what one thing is that voice in your head whispering right now?

OK! That's what awareness feels like. Now buy a notebook. Write down that One Thing on the title page. And keep writing in that journal every day: what you want and how you'll get there, with lots of praise and kindness and doodles in the margins.

ENERGY EXPRESS-O! AWARENESS SPARKS ACTION

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" — Mary Oliver

Marilynn Preston is the author of "Energy Express," America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new Amazon best-seller "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being" is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com.

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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