Finding Clarity in the New Year: Personal Development for a Better You!
The fresh promise of a New Year inspires many of us to consider making changes in our lives. If you’re like most people, this includes New Year’s resolutions for things like: healthier eating, more regular physical activity and saving more money.
As you wrap up 2016, have you noticed yourself feeling foggy, unfocused, anxious, or just plain “blah”?
Finding and maintaining mental clarity and focus throughout the year can seem as difficult as catching smoke with your hands. Fortunately, there are many ways to improve your mental clarity that take as little as a few moments each day. Making small changes to your routine can lead you to a year of improved clarity and peace.
We all know that taking a break or a vacation once in a while, can make you feel more refreshed, relaxed, and focused. Below, I’ve outlined three clarity boosting activities that can be added to any routine. Add these to your New Year’s resolution and you’re in for a whole year with boosted mental clarity.
The following activities capitalize on the power of relaxation. They are brief and don’t require a plane ticket! They’re in the same family as meditation, but each offer a unique quality and many of them are easier for those who are new to mental relaxation exercises. As a trained and practicing mental health counselor, I can attest to the power of taking a short mental break for boosting clarity, focus and mood.
This is such a simple idea, yet something we nearly always forget to do. If you had coffee this morning, did you slow down to really taste and enjoy your delicious warm beverage? Or did you barely notice the coffee at all before it was gone? When you ate lunch, did you take a break and really taste your food? Or did you barley register the flavors because you were wrapped up in work? This idea of stopping to “smell the roses” is well known and can have a powerful impact on our day. It is a great mood booster when used regularly and hardly takes any time at all. Try to savor at least one thing a day. On days when you have very little time, savoring something for a moment can boost your mood.
Going for a walk can be very healing. To maximize your relaxation on a walk, be sure to keep your focus in the present moment. Be aware of everything around you. Notice what you see, what you smell, what you hear. Notice the blue sky and the smell of baking bread or whatever you happen to come across. Notice how the physical activity makes you feel. Notice everything without making judgments about whether things you see are good or bad. This might take a little practice to master. You might find yourself getting distracted and stressing about work again, but gently bring your attention back to the present moment on the walk. Really give yourself permission to take a break mentally and you’ll thank yourself later. If your mind is still buzzing with stress from work, you won’t come back feeling refreshed – you might be even more stressed. Be sure to take the time to enjoy the walk and you’ll be more productive after.
Visualization is a powerful tool that can be used in many ways. One way is to visualize your favorite place (the beach, the mountains, a waterfall, or the forest). Think about the place that makes you feel relaxed and at peace. When your mind is going at full speed it can be difficult to slow down and focus on your visualization. To get the most benefit, begin by taking a few slow and deep breaths. You can set a timer for five minutes so you know you won’t lose track of time. Give yourself permission to relax for just those five minutes knowing that you’ll come back to work feeling more refreshed. After you’ve taken a few slow, deep, calm breaths, try to get a clear picture in your mind of your place. You could turn on ocean sounds or rainforest sounds; whatever will help you take this mental break. Spend the next few minutes really focusing on getting a clear picture of the place. Notice every detail in your mind. Enjoy these moments of relaxation. When you come back into the present moment, you’ll feel more refreshed, relaxed and ready to take on the next task.
These are three quick ways to increase mental clarity and find peace in the New Year. If you’re interested in more information, there are numerous resources online. I’ve included a few below. Taking time to learn what helps you relax can be one of the most useful New Year resolutions.
I’m wishing you a New Year of clarity and relaxation.
Written by Blog Contributor: Kasryn Kapp
Disclaimer: This is not intended to take the place of formal mental health treatment. If you are experiencing depression or another mental health concern, it is recommended that you seek mental health treatment.