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How to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the New Year (Includes interview)

Dr. Fielding, of Mindful-Mastery, offers readers of Digital Journal steps and practices to step into the new year prepared to set resolutions and to actually follow through with them. This falls under the program: “4 Steps to Clicking the Internal ‘Refresh’ Button: How to be Mentally and Emotionally Prepared for the New Year.”

Outlining this she writes: “By the end of a long, and particularly trying 2018, it’s normal to feel worn out and not exactly pumped for taking on new tasks. The motivation tank is dry and the pull to shut down and avoid is stronger than ever. So we can all use some tools for clicking the internal refresh button.”

So what are the four steps?

Step I: Find Motivation in Your Values

“Values are different from goals”, according to Dr. Fielding. “Values are your internal GPS, and help you connect to your why. They are chosen by you, and only you, and provide you with stamina to endure discomfort in the service of the kind of life you want to design.”

She adds: “Values are the direction you want your life to take, and the kind of person you want to be. And…. It takes some serious intentionality to get connected to them.”

Step II: Validate the Discomfort

With this step, Dr. Fielding states: “Our default reaction when we feel internal discomfort such as awkwardness, uncertainty, anxiety, or frustration, is to do something to get rid of the feelings. This is natural of course. Who wants to feel uncomfortable?”

She goes on further to explain: “But when you’re feeling burnt out, and you’ve been pushing through the whole year, it’s time for another approach. Rather than smothering your feelings, ignoring your emotions, and pretending your ‘fine’, practice getting curious and open to your experience. The Validation skill is the simple act of non-judgmentally acknowledging that the experience is present. Just like getting validated in the parking lot simply says, “you were in the building.””

Step III: Keep Your Thoughts In Check

For the third step, Dr. Fielding notes: “Just like our actions, our thoughts can fall into habitual patterns when we’re stressed out. These patterns can pull us into low mood and motivation. But actually, seeing your thoughts as just thoughts, rather than facts takes some practice.”

She continues: “What happened above when asked to visualize your ideal self in 2019? Did your mind offer up ‘reasons’ you cannot do those things? Or did you skip through the exercise entirely? Or maybe you noticed judgments about the exercise? The key is to catch when your mind pulls you away from the things you need to do to take care of yourself – and then redirect to the present moment.”

Step IV: Change Your Reactions

With the final step, Dr. Fielding explains: “One of the largest predictors of the effects of stress on our mental and emotional well-being is how we react to the triggers in our lives. Our reactions may be larger more obvious discomfort avoidance behaviors, such as using substances or yelling or arguing. Or our reactions might be that insidious way we tighten our shoulders, furrow our brow, or clench our teeth.”

She concludes: “Maybe others notice, maybe they don’t. But your reactivity has a huge impact on your stress levels and mental health. So, the key here is to control, the only thing in your control, which is your actions.”

Key to succeeding in each of these steps, Dr. Fielding stresses, is down to practice.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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