This time of year brings forth a lot of introspective writing from people, including myself. That or it’s end of year nostalgia or plans for the new year and self-improvements. I’m no different, not really, because I feel this time of year forces this kind of thinking within our society. It’s expected and flashed in your face everywhere you go. Whether it’s the grocery story promoting new healthy meals, commercials for gym memberships, bookstores with dietary cookbooks. You can’t escape this impression that not only is the calendar year changing, but so are you.
For me, I like the “new year” and new plans or goals to be figured out in September. After having school years begin every September, it seems natural to make plans then. But then December comes and I fall into the trap along with everyone else, particularly this year since this past fall was so overwhelming with my grandmother’s declining health and death, then the insanity of wedding planning.
I am pro going to the gym and eating healthy, it’s something I’ve flirted with for years and am sure I’ll continue to do so. But this upcoming year, I want to focus on something different entirely. There’s a lot happening in the upcoming year; the contract I’m on is ending and I therefore do not know where or with whom I’ll be working; we’d like to move out-of-state by the end of 2018 although we’ve done next to no planning for this; we’re seeing if we can have children, or rather, not preventing children from happening; and I am finishing my graduate school degree.
But for all of this, I need to be capable of having it happen, and to be capable of doing that, I need to be healthy.
Yes, yes, exercise and eating well, we all know that is a key to good health, but I think there’s an important factor that’s often overlooked: mental health. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety and panic disorder this year after returning to my psychologist and the diagnosis doesn’t come as a surprise. I can put forth someone who is generally a worrier or stressed, but it’s all the worse when looking deep into state of mind. I’m working on getting healthier in that regard, as it’s incredibly important, but it’ll take time and some changes.
So often I get swept into the whirlwind of social media. Facebook, in particular, is a negative media outlet in my life. Too often I waste time scrolling through it and become irritated or hurt by posts I see. I keep an account because if I need to get in touch with family or they would like to share updates or photos, it’s through the site, but is there really a need for me to be attached to it permanently?
I hope in the new year to distance myself from it. From any website, honestly, that gives me more negative than positive feelings. Too often when I’m sitting on my computer doing school work, I am easily distracted. I finish a paragraph then “reward” myself by popping onto different sites. I’m so busy, so overwhelmed by the demands in my life, that there’s no sense to be wasting time on sites that provide me with nothing. There’s no educational gain from it, no mental pleasure. This youtube video on whether or not reading has become competitive has truly given me a moment’s pause to consider the impact of social media and what it is I want from my life. There’s always this need to stay relevant, whether it’s with friends or strangers, and it’s exhausting.
Much like the youtuber, I find myself feeling guilted into reading books. It’s self-imposed guilt, but guilt all the same. If I’m not reading the latest, most talked about book, I feel badly about it. But I simply haven’t the time. I’ve certainly drawn back from reading anything that is popular on instagram and only have leaned towards books that honestly strike my interest. It effects my views and likes, but I am slowly learning to not care. I post pictures of books because I enjoy posting pictures of books. I read books because I enjoy reading books. But now I need to shift my mentality to understand that this does not mean that I must reading everything within a specific time frame or feel guilty if I can’t read in general simply because I’m too busy.
So what I’m really getting at is that in 2018, I feel that a goal or resolution, if you will, is to stop giving myself self-imposed pressure from the world around me to do things a specific way. I do not need to go on Facebook all the time, I do not need to read the flashiest new book. I want to be able to read what I please, when I have the time. I want to write and not be distracted by social media or wonderings of what other books are out there that may already tell the same type of story I have in my head, but better.
I want to sink into the world around me, to appreciate more sunsets, and have more self-imposed moments of quiet reflection, rather than brainless scrolling. I need to take my focus on events outside of my life and turn them inward. I think, if I’m to do this, I’ll not only have better appreciation for my own life and find more happiness, but I’ll also have a better understanding of myself. To understand myself and how I work, is to find ways to better understand and control my anxiety and panic. It’s worth doing that for myself.