January 2nd, 2016

me with green hair

New Year's [Resolutions]

I don’t like the idea of “New Year’s resolutions,” because the very phrase calls to my mind something that someone works on for the first month or two of the year and then forgets about. It makes me think of how crowded the gym always is in January, and how quickly the crowds thin out, and how depressing that is, because it's a sign of all these people failing.

On the other hand, I do like stopping a moment to reevaluate my life upon occasion to consider adjustments I’d like to make, and so I do like “New Year’s resolutions” in that way.

So I don’t know if I would call them “resolutions” or just “intentions” or even just “hopes,” but I do have some things I’d like to work on in 2016, primarily to focus more on my mental and physical health. To accomplish this focus, I plan to develop a regular schedule and stick to it as much as possible:

  1. CWC is good for my mental health, so I plan to go to CWC regularly, including Tuesday mornings in the Art Room, which I haven’t done reliably in years. Art is good for my mental health, too, and I’m more likely to make time for it if I go to the Art Room, rather than assuming I’ll work on projects at home. In the past couple years, I’ve become pretty irregular about attending CWC (mostly due to health reasons), but I want to make it a regular schedule in my life again, the framework around which everything else is built.

  2. In order to go to the gym reliably, I plan to schedule it around other events in my life (for example, going to the gym directly from CWC on Mondays and Tuesdays). I plan to go 3-4 times per week, probably Mondays-Thursdays. (My gym is only open a few hours on weekend days, and they’re hours that aren’t very convenient for me.)

  3. In therapy and on my own, I want to make some inroads into my anxiety issues. This, I know, will be slow going, because there aren't any quick fixes, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to come up with some concrete plans to work toward this goal. For example, I have an Anxiety and Phobia Workbook that my therapist has repeatedly encouraged me to utilize, but I haven't had much luck with that. So maybe I can bring the book with me to therapy, and we can look at it together to come up with some ideas of things that might help me. I think it would help me if I set aside some particular time each week when I work in the book—once again using the idea of scheduling as a tool for helping me achieve my goals. I do much better with a schedule; without one, I tend to flounder.

    Note: As part of the "working on my anxiety" goal, I'm going to start working on my anxiety that's specific to bicycling. I tend to try to go all-or-nothing, and that isn't working, because when I switch to "all" (e.g., a night-time ride on a narrow street with lots of cars), I panic. So I'm going to work up a sort of "bicycling anxiety scale," and start at the bottom, and slowly work my way up. At the bottom is daytime biking on off-road paths or through our quiet neighborhood streets. At the top is anything that involves streets with lots of car traffic, especially if it's at night. So I'm going to just give myself permission to be afraid of streets with lots of cars right now, and decide that I don't have to make myself face them. I'll work my way up to it. Part of this particular "resolution" is stopping beating myself up for being afraid of things ... for the practical reason that it doesn't help. I'll work on my anxiety issues, but try to be realistic and compassionate with myself in the process. The key is to keep working on it, but gently.

  4. Lastly, I plan to continue with the daily mood charting I started while at La Cheim, but start looking at how the various elements I chart interact with each other. Right now, I chart a bunch of stuff (and have other stuff, like sleep and exercise, charted by my Fitbit), but I don’t actually look at any of the data or try to correlate it in any way. I plan to—just once a week—look at how all the pieces relate to each other. Is my anxiety better when I get more exercise? Is my mood better when I go to CWC regularly? Are my sleep and exercise correlated in any way? Do I have more emotional fortitude for biking on a week when I've been less busy? Stuff like that. I’m not sure if this is something I’ll do long-term, since I’m not sure how useful it will turn out to be, but it’s something I plan to try out.

There are some other things I'd like to do, as well—write more, eat healthier, be a better friend (i.e., flake less often)—but I'm going to focus primarily on my scheduling plan of CWC, gym, and anxiety work. I think that's plenty.