by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
Inevitably, a new year is approached with baggage from its previous. Lighten your load as you launch 2013 …
Be ready and brilliant when you introduce yourself to 2013. That doesn’t require a complete life overhaul. More simply, it involves letting go. Although regrets happen as a natural part of life, we don’t need to befriend them to travel with us during all our days.
Spend the final weeks of the year packing your bags. Label them– exercise mishaps, relationship issues, career troubles, and other aspects of your life. Fill them with specific regrets. As you do, envision their weight being lifted from your shoulders. (Imagine the improvement in your workout without that holding you down!)
Everyone is plagued by regrets at some point. Minor ones usually fade away. Often, they are the catalyst for positive change. The major stuff is trickier to release. According to a study out of Northwestern University, Americans’ biggest life regrets include romantic and friendship failures, family disputes, educational shortcomings, missed opportunities, parenting failures, and health neglect. Try to address them before sending on their way.
While packing up remorse, see if a solution presents itself. That long line of holiday shoppers might be the perfect time for soul-searching. A feeling of goodwill, or even frustration, could surface an answer. It might be an overdue phone call or the more complex decision of going back to school. The answer is within you, if you listen for it. Quiet the taunting voice of regret and wait.
Do the Work
For your own sake and that of the world around you, be ready to do the work. As you ditch regrets, put their lessons to use. If you often feel you passed up a chance, consider why you let opportunities slip. Is it a confidence issue? Do you lack the necessary support structure? Perhaps you need to dedicate more time to the thought process. Shift priorities in your life to leave time for growth.
The Northwestern University study found six percent of those surveyed most regretted something about their health, including not being seen regularly by their physician, eating poorly, and not exercising. The cause of their regret was easily correlated to significant health issues. According to study co-author Mike Morrison, “Participants felt such problems could have been prevented or would have been less serious if they had taken better care of themselves.”
As exemplified by our senior members, it’s never too late. Make a positive change.
As the burden of regret is lifted, experience a new lightness. When we are lightened, we travel further. Performance and progress improve. Rather than focus on “the one that got away,” we can focus on all that still surrounds us and what is yet to be. We enjoy a better way to live, with eyes toward the future and hands ready to grasp the next opportunity.
Direct energy on today and nourish it through exercise, healthy eating, and meaningful connections. Try these small steps and reap the benefits:
- Practice breathing techniques. You don’t need to be a meditation guru to perform these. It’s as easy as counting back from 10 while inhaling and exhaling, especially during stress and anger. A recent study proved suppressed anger is the main predictor of headaches.
- Get more sleep. Mental and physical health will benefit, and weight loss attempts will be easier. You’ll also have one less regret: No early-morning remorse over a late bedtime. Treat yourself to high-end linens. They are worth every penny.
- Help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by completing puzzles and riddles. Turn off the TV.
- Find ways to enjoy more cranberries in your diet for numerous health benefits, including protection against stroke.
- Drink a full glass of water to start your day.
- Try circuit training. This combination routine of cardio and strength fitness accelerates results. Muscle confusion and alternating breaks for muscle groups allow a high-intensity workout. Talk with a personal trainer for tips.
- Make a new workout buddy at the Center. Those surrounding you likely share similar fitness interests. Perhaps it is a certain Group Fitness class or specific exercise equipment. Introduce yourself and see where it goes.
- Invite your children to the Center for a FitKids class, Family Swim, or visit to Childcare. Families who introduce a healthy lifestyle during young years set a lifelong example.
- Three flights a day! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined climbing up and down three times improves heart health. They also claim it can help shed ten pounds over the course of a year.
- Slow down at meals. Practice mindful eating. One member shares her dieting success tip, “When I’m going to eat a cookie, I sit down and eat a cookie.” This gives more pleasure to the act for better satisfaction. Taste what you eat. Need help? Play slow background music. Our fork tends to keep tempo with the beat. A fast song can translate into two additional mouthfuls a minute.
- Connect with an old friend. Often, this is on everyone’s to-do list year after year. Make it happen. Stop the incessant “Let’s get together” and set a date. It may lead to a regular coffee visit. Or, you may find you outgrew each other 10 years ago and can check this off your list.
- Make time for weightlifting. This helps reduce/prevent arthritis and improve everyday functioning. Strengthen muscles for better bones and joint support.
- Eat yogurt for its many health benefits, including a stronger immune system.
- Give yourself permission to be human.
Instead of sharing life with regrets, share it with kindness. Treat yourself with the leniency you would show a best buddy. Perhaps you expect too much of yourself. You might not be ready for a marathon or 1,000 sit-ups. Acknowledge your faults, in an argument or relationship. Ask for forgiveness and live with the answer. Forgive yourself.
A Final Thought
You have done what you could — some blunders and absurdities have crept in. Forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. –Emerson
“50 Ways to Be Healthier,” by Jennifer Rainey at www.everydayhealth.com.
“Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda: What Do You Regret?” by Melissa Johnson at www.everydayhealth.com.
Crashing waves: http://www.flickr.com/photos/josefgrunig/1732787905/