The holidays fill me with anxiety (even more so than usual), so I’m always looking for things to focus on. I often need to pull myself out of my own rut because if I allow my brain to take over, I end up in a real spiral. What better thing to focus on than improving yourself? I think we should always take a minute to think about things that we can work on to make us feel better and lighten the load we often put on our own shoulders. Here are some ways to do just that.

1. Read a book every day

Cool it. You don’t have to read a whole book. You don’t have to read a best selling book. You can read pure fluff if you want to. The point is to take even five minutes to read. Unplug before bed, put your electronics down, and boost your creativity and relaxation level by reading a couple of paragraphs. I’ve noticed that when I read I sleep better that night. I personally prefer to stay away from electronic reading devices because I find that the light can overstimulate me before bed, where reading a book will knock me out within five minutes. However, that’s just me. If a reading device is your thing, then use it. It doesn’t matter how you do it, it’s just getting it done.

2. Exercise

You don’t have to run a marathon, but exercise is a great and healthy way to get rid of anxiety and pent up feelings. Think of it as moving meditation. Your thinking will be a lot clearer when you’re done and your body will thank you. A small walk with your dog, a walk to the post office, or even an extra lap around the mall or grocery store when you’re shopping can make a world of difference.

3. Avoid negative people

I don’t mean regular people you encounter during the day. I mean the people in your life that give you anxiety to be around them. Here’s the thing, you don’t actually have to keep choosing to be around situations or people that make you uncomfortable or leave you feeling heavy. If it’s just too heavy for your soul, put it down. Emotional vampires are very real and are something you need to step back from for your own health and peace of mind.

4. Quit a bad habit

We all have bad habits. My laundry list is about a mile long. Hell, I might even be one of the negative people I mentioned above lol. However, I am wildly aware of my flaws and am constantly trying to do something about them. Sometimes I’m successful, and sometimes I’m not. You don’t have to succeed every time, but trying goes a long way for the mind and for the soul.

5. Let go of the past

Everyone has a moment in their past they makes them uncomfortable or that they aren’t proud of. You have to let it go. Don’t let something take space in your mind because it’s haunting you. Face it, identify why it bothers you and release it. You’re going to have lots of things that you wish turned out differently, but you don’t need to carry them with you in a suitcase of shame for the rest of your life.

6. Have a goal

Everyone needs something to work towards. It gives us drive. It gives us milestones to look forward to and teaches us patience. Your goal doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be something that you can focus on achieving. Don’t self sabotage though and set 15 at one time and be upset when you don’t get to them all. If you don’t have a lot of time in your day, then set something small into motion. Even a small goal will take time, but you’ll feel very fulfilled when you get to the goal finish line.

7. It’s not a competition

Sometimes we focus too much on what others are doing. That can drive you down into a “why not me” pit of despair. First of all, what is meant to be yours will find its way to you, no matter what. It doesn’t matter if someone else gets there faster, or if they are given different opportunities. Focus on you and what you’re doing. It’s unfair to look at what others have and are doing rather than being grateful for the things you’ve been given. We all do it far too often. Sometimes it may be hard to see, but everyone has their own things to be grateful for. You don’t know what that other person went through to have what they’ve been given, but life is all about give and take no matter who you are or what you have and I can guarantee it didn’t come easy to them because nothing does.

8. Sometimes you have to just stay in your own lane

As I get older, gossip makes me feel dirty. One of the things I’ve really been working on is trying to see something from another persons point of view, even if I’m not that fond of them. I know that I’m full of mistakes and iffy choices, and when I make them, I’m damn well aware that I fucked up. Do you know what makes it worse? When someone that you don’t know, that doesn’t know your mindset, judges you on it when they don’t take a minute to think that maybe you’re going through something that pushed you in that direction. We all have the right to make mistakes to learn from, we do not have the right to judge how someone else is living their life. That’s their path to take, not ours. Yes, you can think however you want, but you don’t need to voice it to anyone who will listen if the situation doesn’t pertain to you. I promise you will feel lighter if you don’t take on issues that aren’t your own.

9. Stop chasing perfection

There is no such thing as a perfect parent, perfect spouse, perfect employee, or a perfect life. I don’t look like someone on Pinterest with rock hard abs and perfect hair. I never will. Make choices based on what’s best for you and not what the outside world will think. If you don’t want to put on makeup, then don’t. If you want to wear all of the makeup all of the time because it makes you happy, then put it on. It’s small things that add up to a good day. You aren’t living your life to make people you don’t know happy. Put down the ideals of perfection and you’ll get to experience a sense of freedom to be yourself. Which is exactly why you’re here. You’re not supposed to be a cookie cutter version of you. That’s doing yourself a huge disservice. Embrace your flaws, find people just as honest and fucked up as you and live happily in your own little unique and fucked up tribe. I know that I have and I’m a much better person for it.

xo S