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Approaches and Practices for a Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year! It’s officially 2018 and I am certain we’ve all started to think about our New Year’s resolutions. I for one am very much looking forward to the year ahead!


And so, in hopes of adding to the sense of community we’ve created here as parents, I wanted to share with you my New Year’s resolutions and how I approach them. Do they inspire, interest, or resonate with you? What are your own resolutions for the year to come? We may have much in common!


First, I prefer the approach of making small increments of change and persisting until they become engrained habits. When it comes to changing behaviour, slow and steady wins the race. If things de-rail, simply begin again. Fall down six times, get up seven. This is the fine art of self-encouragement that we need to cultivate.


Furthermore, as a mental health practitioner, I think about what I have learned in terms of good mental hygiene and how to apply it to my own life. I think consciously about the tenants and philosophies for leading a good life. Or, as we sing in our church:


“For each day is a gift, that we are called to use, to build the common good, and make our own days glad”.


With this attitude of social interest and self-encouragement in mind, I share with you some important principles for living a conscious life, and how I plan to grow in each of these areas in 2018.

Community and Relationships: Humans are social creatures, and we find psychological security in groups.


My resolution: I have been actively re-connecting with old friends since moving back to Toronto. I also plan to find a running or cycling group within the community this year. My on-going goal is to be more present with the ones around me, most especially my family, who can accidentally become invisible even though they are right under my nose! AKA: I need to manage my digital distractions better.


Spirituality: It is important to remember that religion is not the same as spirituality. Spirituality provides meaning and purpose in our lives, and a greater connection to a bigger picture. As society becomes more secular we need to keep in touch with our spirituality for wellness.


My resolution: I am a lifelong Unitarian and member of the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto. I co-lead a journey group there. We meet monthly to explore themes that help us develop our individual spiritual growth. For 2018 I will continue my exploration of Buddhism and its precepts, as well as dig deeper into the writings of the Stoic Philosophers. Check out Epictetus “Art of Living”!


Creativity: Research shows that creativity improves well-being, as it helps to produce a more positive mood and outlook. Get those creative juices flowing!


My resolution: Most of my daily creativity comes from my love of cooking. However, for 2018 I am also going to pick up my sketch pads that have been collecting dust for the past 5. I’ve also downloaded the Procreate app for my IPad, so we’ll see what digital sketching is like!


Diet and Fitness: Adler said we are holistic. Indeed, mind, body, soul, and our greater environment, all influence one another. Basically, people who feed well, do well.


My resolution: Continue on my regime of running 2-3 times and week and weights 1-2 week, and discover the bike trail system in TO. I will continue on my Bulletproof eating regime which aims to improve mental focus and clarity, as well as longevity. If you haven’t heard of the Bulletproof Diet, I suggest you check it out! My undergrad was in Kinesiology, so this concept of biohacking at a cellular level really speaks to me.


De-stressing: Any of you who have taken my self-regulation course will know that we simply must de-stress our lives. Chronic stress, leading to inflammation, is responsible for all the modern western illness responsible for preventable deaths.


My resolution: I will continue with my Monday meditation group and increase the length of my daily morning sit. I’d also like to add an end-of-day practice to my daily regime.


Educational Growth: Being a lifelong learner keeps the brain active and keeps up neuronal regeneration, instead of decline, as we age. I just attended the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference in California where I saw Dr. Dan Siegel, Jack Kornfield, The Gottmans, Esther Perel, Jeffrey Zeig, Aaron Beck, Martin Seligman, Robert Sapolsky and MORE. Talk about inspiring!


My resolution: For 2018, I am starting my Adlerian Play Therapy certification with the lovely and talented Terry Kottman. I also plan to explore an online course on enneagrams with Russ Hudson.


Meaningful Work: For good mental health and happiness, we should have meaningful work. It is part of our social nature. Is it time for you to consider a job or career change?


My resolution: I am fortunate enough to have a career that is more mission based than an occupation. That said, sometimes it can feel like a grind when I do too much of the work that is necessary, but not always fulfilling. To add extra fulfillment to my work – and because I love it so much – I will be offering a local Mindfulness for Parents group! I will also be offering webinars so I can connect with those of you who live outside of the local area.


Charity, Social Activism, and Giving Back: Social interest invites social action! It’s through the act of giving one’s self to help another that we feel our deep embeddedness in humanity. If we don’t feel we belong and can contribute, our mental health deteriorates quickly.


My resolution: While my work is a way of giving back to parents every day, I also participate in the local Food Shares/Food Box programs. I will continue to support my charities of choice; The Maddie Project, Kids Help Phone, and Let’s Talk Science. New for 2018, I plan on volunteering for Habit for Humanity and the Toronto Food Bank.

There’s no doubt, I have a very full and exciting year ahead. I hope this glimpse into my world is helpful as you think about what is important to you and how you will grow in the new year. I’d love to hear your goals for 2018 in the comments below!

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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