Personal growth

7 things I learned this year

I switched planners today, because I’m a nerd like that and I didn’t want to wait until January 1st to start using my beautiful new 2017 Inkwell Press Planner. As I was flipping through my 2016 planner to make sure anything important was transferred over, I found a page in the back that I had titled “Life Lessons,” which I had completely forgotten about, but on which I had written down a few things I had learned throughout the year.

Or rather, most of these weren’t newly discovered lessons, but things I noticed I was continually re-learning and so wanted to commit to paper. Reading over them, I felt there was some wisdom here that warranted sharing — so maybe others can learn from my repeated mistakes and so I won’t forget them again!

  1. Even the most stressful situations seem better the next day. Don’t blow things out of proportion. For me, this most often applied to my previous job — I would sometimes come home after a rough day at work, feeling angry or stressed out or even close to tears and convinced that I needed to find a new job. Usually by the next day, things were fine, the situation had resolved itself or a solution had presented itself, or at least I found I had the energy to deal with whatever was happening.
  2. Your mood can turn around in an instant. Do not fall into a pit of despair. Do something creative. Closely related to #1, but having more to do with emotional fluctuations than situational stress. When my life is out of balance, I start feeling lazy and depressed. It always helps to immerse myself in a creative project or something else I enjoy.
  3. Do the hard stuff first. Always do your chores or freelance work on Saturday. Don’t put them off until Sunday, because you are going to want to relax and read a book or work on something fun. Another reminder on the importance of setting aside time for relaxation, self care, and creative projects.
  4. Going to yoga is always better than not going to yoga. You never regret going to yoga, but you will regret skipping it. (The only exception is if it’s day one of your cycle and you’re like me and it’s best to stay in bed with a book and talk to zero people.)
  5. You cannot just bounce back from a sleep deficit. Go to bed! Sleep deprivation can suppress your immune system, cause health problems, impair your judgment and memory, disrupt your appetite, and affect your emotions and ability to deal with stressful situations. Set a nighttime schedule and stick to it. For me, this means washing my face and brushing my teeth at 9:00, taking the dog out for his final walk at 9:30, and then doing whatever else I need to do (such as get my clothes ready for the next day) so that I have time to read before bed.
  6. Don’t eat too much. You’ll feel gross and tired. Follow the Blue Zone rule of ending your meal when you’re 80% full.
  7. This last one is for writers: Whatever is in you will come out in your writing. Nothing is wasted. An important reminder as I continue to work on my novel and worry whether I am communicating all the key themes that I want to convey.

What lessons or bits of wisdom have you learned to help you make it through difficult times or make small but meaningful improvements in your life?

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