Showing posts with label January. Show all posts
Showing posts with label January. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January: Financial Wellness Month

There’s plenty of advice out there on how to make more money, be financially savvy, and aim for promotion at work (hint: become an invaluable and flexible employee). And I’ve written plenty on how to be financially smart . But as we reflect on financial wellness this month, perhaps it’s worth considering being happy…even when we’re broke.

It’s a conundrum, right? When the bankroll is small and the bills are headliners, we often want to hide under the covers and beg for it all to go away. But as it turns out, more money doesn’t necessarily equal happiness, particularly when we reach the end of life. Social media maven Mona Nomura offers the sad tale of her mother: "After she attained what she thought was success, [my mother] was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. She spent the days up until her death regretting almost all the choices she made and beat herself up day after day. One of her last journal entries included reflections on how unappreciative she was with the things in front of her, and finally realizing happiness does not lie within superficial matters a little too late."

So how do you avoid having these savage regrets, in the face of mounting financial obligations and a still shaky economy? Can we be financially well and still live on a tight budget?

Practice gratitude. This can be a tough one, especially if you are feeling the squeeze in your wallet. But as author and speaker Britt Reints suggests, life is about more than just problems. Think about the things that matter – truly matter – in your world. Your loved ones, friends, family, co-workers. What about your mindset? What do you love best about yourself? Sure, there’s plenty we can come up with to complain about, but there are elements that make us unique. What are those? Make a list of the things that you can be grateful for, and put it by your desk, or tape it to your mirror. I keep mine on my calendar. Whenever I get down about anything, including my budget, I can pull it out and remind myself why this life is so worth the struggle.

This is now, not forever. You don’t have to stay here. If counting every cent by the end of the month doesn’t make you happy, start planning for change! Anna Manalastas left a career in the film industry and discovered yoga as her passion, but it swallowed up her savings. She describes being broke as just a moment in life.So embrace this phase and squeeze it for all it’s worth so you won’t have to go through it again in the future.

Live in the moment. While you are setting goals for future affluence, don’t get so ahead of yourself that you don’t enjoy what is right now. Despite the frustrations, there is so much for you to indulge in right now. Lisa Earle McLeod recommends living in the moment. Remember that this is the only time in your life that your children will be this age. That your friends will be at this place in their lives. That your parents will be who they are, right now. It goes by quickly, and soon, we will face other trials. There is no rewind in life. So despite the financial struggles that you may be enduring, don’t miss these opportunities for treasured moments.

Being broke isn’t fun, but it doesn’t have to be the worst time of your life, either. Part of financial wellness is not just having a certain dollar amount in the bank, but also having the right mindset about money. Having been on both sides of the experience, I can tell you I’m much happier with less in my bank account because I chose to put people and experiences into my life that money can’t buy. What are the parts of your life that can’t be bought? What ways can you work on embracing them even more?

Ally Bishop
Contributing Writer

Monday, January 20, 2014

January: Mental Wellness Awareness month

We often think of mental illness – whether it shows up in the people we love, in the bright color of an awareness ribbon, or in the news – as a severe psychological problem that needs treatment. Terms like depression and anxiety are regularly mentioned, often in the same sentence as treatment and medication. 

Lost in the milieu of illness, we might forget to consider “mental wellness.” Since January is both a time of renewal and farewell, how about checking in to see what your mental wellness level is?

In the world of psychological maladies, there is no definition for “normal.” But in our everyday life, what does it mean to feel good mentally? How would you describe it? Most of us go through our lives without ever assessing: how is my outlook on life? Am I mentally well? Or could I use some tuning up?

As you consider these questions, here are some ideas to help you review and improve your mental health:

Life mindset – How do you face each day? Do you feel like each day presents new possibilities? Even if your morning routine is a bit hectic, do you find yourself excited about what’s in store for the future? For many of us, we find ourselves shaking our heads, as our daily view tends towards a more negative attitude. And you aren’t alone. But negativity affects not only our world view, but our health and attitude. So how do you alter this habit, and create a new one? 

Using the S.M.A.R.T. goal strategy we discussed before, it might look something like this: I will speak one positive thought about my life each morning, for the next 30 days. You might put that goal on a sticky note and post it around the house and in your car so you can stick to it!

Self-talk – What does you self-talk sound like? Is it encouraging and loving? Is the way you speak to yourself the same way you would speak to your child or best friend? Does it make you smile with joy? If your answer is “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to evaluate how to improve it. We know that self-talk not only improves our attitude, but it has significant impacts on our health

To make the first step in improving our self-talk, let’s use the goal above: creating a more positive life mindset. When you get up in the morning and face yourself in the mirror, make a conscious effort to improve your self -talk. “This is a new day – and it’s awesome.” “I am going to face the challenges today with a smile.” “Even though today has some stress in it, I’m going to have a good day.” Whatever might work for your situation – choose that phrase or adjust it to match the day’s (and your) needs.

Daily influences – What do you allow into your mind during the day? How about first thing in the morning? Many of us tune in to the morning news, the afternoon broadcast, and often, even the evening news hour. At times, it’s with us on the commute, or at the gym, or even over the lunch break as we grab a sandwich or sit in the lunchroom. While being aware of world and local events is often necessary, the constant barrage of negative news stories and horrific events takes a toll on our mental wellness and adds stress. 

So rather than live in a bad news bubble, why not change some of your daily influences to help cultivate better mental wellness? Try listening to your favorite tunes, or putting on some dance music and moving to the beat. Have you checked out the podcasts that are available for your daily drive? Or how about listening to a book? If you like to have something on the television, try a funny show or an uplifting spiritual program. Even a meditation or yoga class can help ease the strain of daily stress.

Our mental wellness is critical not only to our health, but to our life satisfaction. While it’s easy to overlook, the more mindful we are about our outlook, the better the outcome, and the more likely we are to find true joy and contentment in our lives.

What are ways you have used to improve your mental wellness? What areas are you still working on?

Ally Bishop
Contributing Writer