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Why We’re Not Making Resolutions This New Year and Are Creating Intentions Instead
The New Year’s resolution conversations that begin to creep up this time of year are not new to us. In fact, many of us have even embarked on these resolutions ourselves. Lose some weight? Bulk up? Save up? Call your mom more often? The start of a new year seems like a natural time to commit to better habits. The reality, however, is that they often don’t come to fruition. Accountability surrounding the New Year’s resolution is statistically quite low. As an alternative to a resolution, perhaps an intention might feel better. Intentions, rather than resolutions, are declarations of what you want and intend to do, or be, or feel, or experience in a set period, like in 2024.
One intention we find very useful is the intention to connect with the body. In a world of so much stimulation from televisions and phones, and responsibilities from work and family, it’s easy to fall out of connection with your body, not to notice the vital signals it sends us. Many tools can help facilitate connection with the body. The two below are considered embodied exercises, or mind-body exercises. You don’t need the gym or a detailed grocery list. You just need you, some quiet, and five to ten minutes. Embodied exercises have been shown to calm you down (in part by decreasing your cortisol secretions), regulate your nervous system (by downregulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis), and help to release tension in the body that negatively affects your emotional and physical well-being.
New Year Exercise A: Befriending the Body
Goals: rest, relaxation, basic kindness to your body
- When you notice your body right now, how would you describe it in three words or phrases? Write them down.
- Lay down. Relax. Let gravity do its work while you sink into the ground. Take three slow breaths. Become aware of the back of your body. Let it melt and soften into the ground a little more. Bring your awareness to the front of the body. Allow it to soften a little more. Take three more slow breaths.
- At this point, what area of the body calls to you? Do you sense tension, restlessness, or any particular discomfort? Do you feel warmth or cold? Pulling or pushing? Allow your attention to hover over that area of the body and breathe. Breathe gently, softly, tenderly. Breathe into the area as if you were sending light into it.
- When you notice some change, send a kind note to the area of the body that needs some attention, tenderness, and care. Perhaps you thank it for releasing or acknowledge that it needed some attention. Notice again any changes while breathing softly. You can turn your attention to another part of the body if you feel so compelled and continue as needed.
- When you notice your body right now, how friendly would you see you are towards your body? Do you feel like you’ve befriended your body a little more? How would you describe your body in three words or phrases? Write them down. Have they changed since the beginning of the exercise?
New Year Exercise B: Moving Body Scan
Goals: train mindfulness, encourage relaxation and connection with the body
- Sit or stand in a comfortable position. Take stock of how your body feels. Breathe slowly and imagine yourself as a gently swaying tree.
- Beginning the with head, bring the smallest movement by gently rocking side to side. These movements should be so small that no one knows they’re happening but you. Allow the breath to very slowly move in tandem with your rocking.
- Travel to the neck and make the smallest up and down motion. Allow the breath to move in tandem with your movement.
- Continuing downwards, move your shoulders, then chest, then belly. Breathe gently and slowly into each as you move, sway, or rock. Then move down the back, then through the pelvis, then the right leg, then the left leg. Breathe gently and slowly into each as you move, sway, or rock.
- Continue for a few moments, just swaying. Should you notice some tension, try and let it go. When it feels right, come to stillness. Take stock of how your body feels. Are you calm, connected, feeling vibrant, or strong? Just notice and acknowledge your connection to your body.
Creating Alternative Traditions
In choosing intentions over resolutions for the New Year, we recognize the common struggle with unmet goals. Instead, we propose cultivating intentions, like the powerful commitment to connect with your body in 2024. The provided embodied exercises, ‘Befriending the Body’ and ‘Moving Body Scan,’ require just a few minutes, offering an opportunity to express kindness, relaxation, and mindfulness. By fostering this connection, you embark on a journey towards improved emotional and physical well-being. Take these moments for yourself, embracing the power of intention over fleeting resolutions in the coming year.
Looking to learn more? Check out:
- Somatic Psychotherapy Toolbox, Manuela Mischke- Reeds
- Our page on Somatic Experiencing or EMDR.
- Or Contact Us at 250-718-9291. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to book an appointment.
Written by: Samantha O’Hara,
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