New Year’s Resolutions can be a challenge. The New Year is a time to reflect on the past year and think about how we want improve on the person we’ve become.  A life filled with less stress often tops list. Focusing on the root causes of stress has many health benefits, such as reducing muscle and back pain.  Sherri Stone, doctor of physical therapy and patient educator at BioSpine, lists several ways we can take control of our lives and reduce stress.

See problems as little treasures in disguise

“Remember that sometime not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” – Dalai Lama

This year, when situations come your way that are challenging or difficult, see them as a way to expand yourself. We all encounter them and get through them eventually. To do that, we must change a little bit, perhaps see the situation from a different perspective. We cannot solve a problem on the same frequency that it was created, therefore, after every problem we expand ourselves. Bigger problems cause bigger shifts. This change is essential to our growth or else we remain rooted to the same spot.

Take your power back

“I do not fix my problems. I fix my thinking. Then the problems fix themselves.” – Lousie Hay

Remember the one and only thing we have complete control over is what we think and how we feel. When we think certain thoughts, they generate a feeling. It is either good or bad but we call them all sorts of things. Guilt, revenge, shame, and anger all feel bad. Joy, excitement, blessed, and happiness all feel good. When a situation arises, we choose how we feel even though it usually takes just a second to do so. The next time an inopportune situation arises, stop for just a second and try to control the knee-jerk reaction most of us have. When we stew on particular situations, try to stop and think of something that makes you feel better. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but it is a way to control your feelings and not let them control you. Doing this will also give you complete control over your life.

Forgive

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” – Nelson Mandela

All of us have been hurt by another which has made us mad or unhappy in some way. Refusing to let go keeps us stuck in the past and unable to focus on the present moment. Reliving the situation over and over again gives us the same awful feelings we had when it first happened, and it does not feel good. Often times the person who hurt you may not even realize you are feeling this way, so if possible, confront them and try to resolve the issue. If this is not possible, try to move through it. Forgiveness does not condone the poor behavior of another; it is a gift to you because it stops the poison of resentment from coursing through your body. Forgiveness is the best gift you can give to yourself.  Keep in mind, the person you may need to forgive the most is yourself.

Be Selfish

“Self-care is no selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brown

Many of us put ourselves on the bottom of the pile and others ahead of us. Mothers and caregivers tend to do this a lot. It simply is not healthy to put others first and yourself after. What kind of message is this sending to our body and mind? We are deserving and worthy just as anyone else we interact with. Say no when you mean it and stop saying yes when you don’t.  Do things that fill you up in addition to taking care of others. When you drain your spirit and energy because of other people, you will be of no use to them.

Don’t Judge

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” – Wayne Dyer

All of us have had completely different upbringings and experiences. Because of this, we all see things differently than another no matter how similar we seem. When we pass judgement on another, it is to make them wrong and us right. But there is no wrong and right, only a different perspective. Who’s to decide what’s wrong and right anyhow? Wrong for one is correct for a different person.  Judgement towards others does nothing positive for anyone. Learn to appreciate our diversity and resist the urge to categorize others just to make ourselves feel better.

Be Gracious

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – Sir Arthur Ward

There is so much good in our world but we tend to not appreciate it until it is taken away from us. How many times have you been thankful for a healthy body, a car that runs, money in the bank and healthy relationships? When we experience a problem with one of these, we tend to get upset. Give thanks for all the good you have in your life. Thank the people you interact with daily, even if it is just for their beautiful smile or their presence. When we express gratitude, we will bring more of it into our life.

Trust

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” – Lao Tzu

Most of us have realized that there is something bigger than us out there. We call it all sorts of things from God, The Universe, Higher Power, Shiva, or whatever your word is. There is some energy that grows our fingernails, digests our food and heals our wounds without us ever having to think about it. That same energy is at our core. It is the same energy that gives us our ‘gut’ feeling when we know something is wrong or right, or when we have instances when we know when things are about to happen. That intuition is always at work and if we can shut out the distractions we get from the media, our phones and other well-meaning people, answers appear to any questions or problems we may have. Learn to listen to that inner voice and trust it. It speaks very loud and clear when distractions are not present.

Love. Love. Love.

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” – Mother Teresa

This year be a channel for love. Practice gentleness with your thoughts, words and actions towards others and see what happens. Stopping judgement and criticism produces a ripple effect and will affect everyone and everything around you. Little babies are full of love because they have not been exposed to the prejudices and problems of the world. We were all like that at one time until society and well-meaning adults got a hold of us and molded us into their ideas of what we should be like. Remember to show this love to ourselves the most. When we truly love ourselves we stop treating our bodies poorly. Let’s get back to our roots and shine happiness and love onto everyone and everything we encounter. Bring peace into our hearts and into our world. Doing this will ensure a fantastic 2018!