In this episode of Naaree Talk, Mental Fitness and Digital Wellness Coach, Bindiya Murgai shares her New Year goals checklist for health and happiness.
Bindiya Murgai is a Mental Fitness and Digital Wellness Coach. She’s conducted over one hundred workshops on mental fitness and self-development topics including self-esteem, relationship building, happiness, emotional hygiene, meditation, and mindfulness.
Her therapy, coaching practice and workshops have helped numerous people enhance their mental fitness, overcome depression, relationship hurdles, personal challenges, grief, stress, anxiety, improve self-esteem and body image, and several other emotional and psychological problems.
Her retreats have been rated amongst the ‘Top 10 retreats in Asia’ by numerous publications and websites. Her Healing Hideaway blog has been chosen amongst the ‘Top 75 Healing Blogs in the World.’
She has been awarded the prestigious Rex Karmaveer Chakra and the Rex Karmaveer Jyoti Purskaar, founded in association with iCongo and the United Nations.
Her writings on inner wellness, self-improvement and mental fitness have been published by Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Pioneer, New Indian Express, Economic Times, Dainik Jagaran, Speaking Tree, Namaskar, Exotica, and Femina, to name a few. She has also been featured in various newspapers and magazines as an expert on her subject.
In this episode of Naaree Talk, Bindiya shares her New Year goals checklist for health and happiness.
New Year Goals Checklist For Health And Happiness
In this episode of Naaree Talk, Mental Fitness and Digital Wellness Coach, Bindiya Murgai, shares her New Year goals checklist for health and happiness.
1. Practice self-love
The most under-addressed thing that we need to set as a goal for ourselves is self-love. Now, there is so much being said about self-love and different people seem to also misconstrue the term sometimes thinking self-love is narcissism or maybe, you know, selfishness.
But let’s just understand that self-love really means acceptance of who we are, as we are. It doesn’t have to be that we give up on try to improve ourselves. That is something that we should keep striving to do.
But acceptance of the fact that we’re all right the way we are, and that we can love ourselves, the way we love our best friend, or parent or a sibling, or even a pet. So we accept them with so many, you know, shortcomings and flaws and still love them so wholeheartedly.
So we have to first also start doing the same for ourselves. So for me, that would be the primary goal that everyone should keep in mind for 2020. Start by being gentler, kinder, more compassionate with yourself.
You know, and we’re all little works in progress. So let’s appreciate that we are works in progress and tell ourselves every day that it’s all right, we’re on the path and we’re doing okay. Be our own cheerleader.
2. Audit the previous year
So after that, we need to audit what has happened in the previous year because it’s always good to take stock of what we’ve done, how we’ve done and so on, but without being too harsh on ourselves, and without blaming ourselves.
It’s not about saying, I could have done this, made more money, been a better mother, lost more weight. It’s not about that. It’s about saying that I wanted to achieve this that in (last year), and how much did I end up doing?
And if I didn’t end up doing it, what is it that I can do now to course correct it so that the goal becomes a goal and doesn’t just stay a dream in my head.
So when we audit one of the things we have to keep as a baseline for that, is that did we even focus on that? Did we just have that as a thought that came through… this year I’ll become fit and then left it.
And if that was the case, then just make a list of the top five or even the top three things without making a very long extensive list because that becomes difficult to keep up with. You can increase the list and change it as you go along.
But now put down three to five things and give it some sort of a timeline. Because when we don’t give a timeline to things, then that’s not a goal. So let’s say, to begin with, this year, I’m going to be more healthy as a person.
I’m going to work out at least four times a week, I’m going to take care of myself over one medical checkup every year. So if you’re putting that as a goal, we have to start now.
How can I start infusing that little bit of health and fitness starting today, even if it means 10 minutes, which I’ll expand up to 30, but commit to a shorter timeline so that it doesn’t just hide somewhere far away and you keep waiting and it passes?
Start with something you can do now, as small as you want it to be, thin slice it, no problem with that, is the next important thing to keep in mind for our own well-being for the coming year.
3. Pick a word or theme for the year
Then I think one thing that really helps, it really helps me I see it help a lot of my clients as well is that if we pick a word or a theme that becomes the word or theme for the year. So it could be fearlessness.
For example, a lot of us have a lot of fears, you know, fear of trying something new fear of pushing a little boundary here and there. So if we say that this is the prism through which we’re going to look at our day to day life, then you can actually then use that as a filter.
Think of a photo filter. You know, we’re constantly using photo filters online. We have a favourite filter. This one makes us look soft. That makes us look edgier.
Maybe you’ve just been so stuck in a routine. Maybe you’ve been not embracing any change, but wanting it. And you know, that is my buzzword for the year, you will take it up as a challenge and say yes, I’ve committed to change this year.
Let me try it. What’s the worst that can happen? And very honestly, very lucky is the worst. You know, we’re so scared half the time of trying things that we don’t even give ourselves or things a fair chance.
So that is important to get that buzzword. Use it literally like an invisible tattoo, or maybe even a tattoo on your hand if you want, so that it reminds you.
Or maybe get a bracelet, so that every day when you’re doing stuff, you look at that and remind yourself that this is my theme for the year. I must work with it. I must do something accordingly. So that is another goal.
It can be a screensaver so that you get reminded on a daily basis that this is my team. I have to stick to my team a little more effectively.
4. Break a sweat
I think the next one which is so obvious to all of us, but which we just ignore in masses. Exercise. Now, usually, we say okay, we’ll exercise because maybe a few inches have expanded. So now we must go exercise.
But what very few people very consciously remain aware of is that exercise also releases feel-good neurotransmitters in our bloodstream, like a natural high that we get.
But you need to break into a sweat. Maybe you like brisk walking, or maybe you don’t have a place where you have enough clean air to even go brisk walking.
So maybe you have a room which you can shut, put some music on, or your headphones if you can, you know, blast it on the system, dance to the break into a sweat.
Choose a martial arts thing if that’s what interests you anything but just get that natural high which your body already has so that the body releases those neurotransmitters to make you feel better.
And of course then the physical benefits of something apart from that that we’re all aware of. But just from an emotional point of view, I’m saying it’s a nice natural fix for ourselves.
Dancing in fact, you know, is one of the best forms of exercise because it’s not only making you burn, but it’s also very meditative. When you’re letting us go and dancing, can you actually think of something else?
It’s very hard then to think like, oh, I’m stressed about this, or what am I going to cook for dinner? It’s like when you have a belly laugh. If you’re really laughing, can you laugh and be distressed at the same time? You can’t.
And now to come to something which is sort of related, which is meditation itself. Now, a lot of people feel that, oh, we tried meditation. It’s so boring, or meditation is not for me. This is for other people.
Now, meditation is for everybody. The problem is that sometimes we try only one method. There’s more than one way to meditate other than to sit down and focus on our breath.
That is the most common way. It’s a good way to get in. But it’s not the only way. Like I said, dancing is a form of meditation. If you’re sitting quietly with some nice clean, hot water and washing your dishes, that is a form of meditation, too.
So whether you need an active form of meditation, even running is one form of meditation. Because we must understand that meditation is not about levitating, some Zen hippie or something like that.
It’s about saying that our mind is like a highway. It’s like a freeway, with traffic that’s just coming and going. Now in order for us to be able to refresh, to be able to get clarity, sometimes we need to make that traffic stop, even if it’s for one second.
And that’s what meditation does, it stops the stream of thought traffic that’s constantly rushing through our mind. So even if you get one second, two seconds, of a break between thoughts when you’re meditating, it helps you in several ways in the rest of your daily routine.
It gives you calmness, it gives you clarity, you can handle stress better. It’s good from a physiological point of view for your body. And it just changes the tone of the day altogether.
So I would say give it 21 days because for anything to become a habit it takes 21 days. Don’t give up, but just find the right form. And even if it means 10 minutes, and there are so many meditation apps these days.
If nothing else, download the app while you’re travelling somewhere to work or to pick up your kids or doing something else. Put on the app and just focus on that for 10 minutes is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
6. Keep a gratitude journal
Then I want to move to something that we rarely do, which is express gratitude on a regular and conscious basis. There’s nothing new age about gratitude.
Right from the time of Buddhism, gratitude is something which is layered into ancient religions, because there is a very deep science to gratitude.
Now, nobody’s life is perfect, there’s always something to be unhappy about something to be dissatisfied about. Something more that you want, or something less happening to you.
So what gratitude does is if you can get up every day and make it a practice, to just write down five things that you’re grateful for, but not the same five things every day, and not big things.
So it can be that, oh, I’m so grateful for this house. I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for my job. That’s understood, you can do that on day one, you can be grateful for those things.
But then you have to start finding little things in your day to day life. Like maybe today, the traffic to work wasn’t that bad.
I actually caught them 15 minutes before time, or I managed to have the perfect cup of coffee that was made for me in the morning and given to me, or I caught up with a friend I really enjoyed chatting with after a very long time.
So you have to find those little things which are present every single day. We just have to be more conscious and aware and not think that just big things are working.
Offering gratitude to but even appreciate the small things like the internet connection, we should be grateful for that because without that we can’t seem to function in so many ways today.
So it’s about expressing gratitude. And the science of that is that when we consciously train our mind, to look for the things which are positive, it overall makes us feel better.
It takes our conscious thought away from everything that’s pulling us down, and it gives us an upper. Gratitude works as an upper because it’s like having a torchlight.
You can either focus the torchlight or the ceiling where there’s nothing much to see. Or you can focus it on a beautiful plant which is going outside of your window. So use your torchlight intelligently, shed it on things that appreciate the value and that you can see that adding richness to your life.
As a daily practice that we really must all start incorporating, at least once a day, if not twice a day, morning or evening. Writing reaffirms something to our mind, it sends a stronger signal than just thinking right.
7. Set clear boundaries with people
Then another thing I find is that a lot of people struggle to define good boundaries for themselves, and that creates a lot of and discontentment in life in general.
So, boundaries can be at your workplace, they can be in your personal life. It can be something as simple as the ability to say no and you will be amazed how many people, even the ones who come across as really strong confident personalities, find it hard to say no.
It could be that you’ve had a long day and you’ve come home, and your family is being demanding and saying, now can you go make this for me, bring me this. And you do it. Because you can’t say No.
But then you get really upset. And you get resentful because you think nobody appreciates me. I’m working so hard, and I’ll be so tired. Now they’re pulling me tell me to do this.
You have to say, no, this is where I draw the boundary. And say, No, I’ve had a long day. I’m really sorry. I do not think I have the energy to do this right now. You please do it for yourself.
The first time they may not like it because they become used to you doing it. And any boundary that you define newly, it’s like dividing two states into two pieces. In the beginning, there will always be some pushback from both sides. There is some readjustment.
Eventually, that same “No” brings you so much clarity. It gives you peace because you don’t feel that you’re pushed around. Now those boundaries can also be boundaries between your relationships. So it could be a friend who’s all the time coming and using you as an emotional dustbin every time you meet.
It can be a relative, you know, somebody who just looks at you and they think oh, great here, take all my garbage. You swallow it because I can’t keep it.
Yes, we are there for close people, we want to hear what their problems are and so on, but not every time. And if you feel drained with an interaction, that means you need to redefine your boundary with that person and with that interaction.
So we have to evaluate what are the boundaries which are too fluid. It could also be that your children always think that they can treat you the way they want to, talk to you the way they bully you, you don’t seem to know what to do.
That means you’ve not established boundaries. Children grow to push boundaries because that’s part of growing up. You’re trying to negotiate your space in the world by pushing and saying, How far can I push it? Where can I go?
So I find parents even more mothers, but actually these days a lot of fathers also really struggle with boundaries with their children. Because of this whole idea of “we are parents, but we are friends.” No, draw the boundary, say that we are parents, but we are not friends.
8. Spring clean your social circle
Spring clean your social circle, maybe not every six months, but every year. Spring clean just like we did a closet or we look at his room and we say, there’s all this stuff over here, and some of it must leave.
It’s not about saying that I’m going to just chop people out because I’m spring cleaning. But as we grow, there are certain relationships that we do not need to take with us. Some relationships have a shelf life.
You have to appreciate that, as hard as that sounds, if that shelf life has expired, take those out. Also, there are some people for instance, who might be very positive about themselves but they’re negative when it comes to you, who will always pull you down.
So, identify in your social circle, who is toxic and go with your gut that when meeting some people, are they uplifting you? Are they nurturing you? You don’t need those people. If for some reason you can’t let them go because maybe they are relatives, wean them off, to the fringes of your life.
Reduce your interactions with those people. All make sure the interaction is happening where there are several other people so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time with them. And slowly, slowly just put this person completely in the corner of your heart, your mind and your emotional ecosystem.
9. Financial independence
A lot of women feel that they don’t need to earn because their husband is earning and that is perfectly fine. You need to earn because it’s good for your self-esteem. You need to earn because it gives you value as a contributing member of society.
It’s about utilizing your skills and being independent where if, for any reason, everybody around you falls out, can you do something, however small, to sustain yourself because of that power of an amazing kind.
In a lot of societies, we never spoke much about women being financially independent because the patriarchy realized that it gave them power. Now, even if you can’t leave your house, even if you’re a stay-at-home mom, there are so many opportunities that have opened up to you.
You can do research online, you can help people with doing surveys, there are simple things you can do for which you don’t need a lot of skill.
So do something so that you can appreciate the value of money, so that even if you’re baking cakes and you might be earning very little out of it, at least you know that you’re earning something out of it.
And one is earning capacity, where we talked about financial security. And the other part of it is that everyone, these days, tends to overspend. And I see this happening a lot because the job market is becoming very, very tenuous.
We’re in the midst of a global recession, and people have expanded their lifestyles over and beyond their means. Of course, everyone wants to give their children the best education, but give it within your means where you’re not breaking the bank and bending over with only debt and no savings left.
Going forward, I would think that is only going to become harder financially in the next 10 years. So, start saving for that rainy day when you may lose your job, your husband may lose his job, where any kind of an emergency can happen. That’s about being financially astute because it’s very hard to downgrade.
So if you’re earning 100 bucks, first keep 30 aside or at least 25 aside. Do not touch it for anything, no vacations, no sprucing up the house, no treat, nothing. That 25 is untouchable, and then go and use the rest of it the way you want and keep yourself debt-free as much as possible.
10. Take time out for yourself
One other small thing, which is very important, is to define something that you do only for yourself. And that is tied to the idea of having the time every day. You need that.
That time has to be sacrosanct. It has to be for you. It has to be like a time of worship. And then an extension of that is when you’re doing something for yourself. Give yourself a treat for everything that you do as a person as a human being.
It may just be treating you to a massage, or a little holiday going solo for some pilgrimage. You might want to go to this temple or monastery and have not been there for a while, whatever it is.
11. Take a digital detox
One of the things which are very relevant and very important is our digital health. It’s very important that we define clear cut boundaries between our technology and us.
And right at the top of the technology list is our Smartphones. We can’t do without them. So what happens is that we’re becoming too dependent on our technology in an unhealthy way.
So you have to see what is it that you doing with your technology, which is utility based. That could be getting some information, booking a ticket, making a call. Those are utility based things.
But what is not utility based, which goes into the genre of addiction or overdependence is that I’m constantly on social media. Even if I’m sitting with people and they’re talking, I’m still scrolling.
Before I eat my food, I should take a photo of my food or take a selfie. I’m at this boring party, so we make it look like fun, and get everyone to feel jealous. All those things are not utility based, they’re addictive.
The nature of social media is very addictive, we need to be mindful of that. And we need to see that we define hours in our day, which are tech-free. Ideally, the first hour of the day and the one just before you go to bed should be completely device-free.
You should not be looking at screens. First thing in the morning, you should keep your mind clean, not looking at news that makes you feel the world is becoming worse, not checking emails, not doing anything. Just let the day soak in.
And likewise in the evening, winding down from the day and listening to music or maybe even allowing yourself to get bored so you go to sleep. Because a really good thing is, when we get bored is when we are creative and we find solutions.
So, if you’re bored, embrace it. It’s a good thing for your mealtimes to be sacrosanct. Try to not bring your devices to the table when you’re talking to people, unless it’s very urgent, and you need to be looking at your phone.
Keep your phone aside, engage in real-life relationships, and communicate, rather than everything is virtual, and leaving you with a sense of emptiness.
If you’re spending too much time on social media, looking at your likes and how much people are liking and forwarding your posts and all that. That’s all a reason to look inwards and figure out why.
Social media was crafted by some of the best minds and uses all the techniques of addiction – gambling, smoking, drinking. And they have woven that whole reward system into social media, where, because instinctively we have this tribal instinct of connection or validation or acceptance.
It uses that primal instinct of us, and it cashes in by giving us these constant dopamine hits. Because every time you’re getting that like or someone’s sharing or commenting, the dopamine’s going up and down up or down.
But your mind is not made to have constant peaks of dopamine. So eventually, that whole cycle leads to anxiety and then people go, why is everyone anxious these days? Why is it there’s so much anxiety disorder happening
It is directly related to all these factors and looking at other people’s lives feeling jealous, and you think my life is so insipid. They’re taking international holidays, everyone seems to be staying at the Four Seasons, everyone seems to be eating some Michelin star food on their plate.
So you start thinking that is reality, you start buying into the version as reality. In comparison, you start getting more and more disillusioned with your own life. So, limit your usage.
If you can’t do it on your own there are plenty of apps that monitor your usage, and if you put 20 minutes it will not let you access it for the 21st minute unless you change the setting.
So if you can’t help yourself, let technology help you in saving you from technology. Instead of becoming a slave to technology, let technology serve you instead.
12. Become the best version of yourself
And finally, the very last thing that I’d like to say is that we all need to focus on being the best version of ourselves. Life is more like a golf game, where you’re only competing with the course, which is your own course.
It’s like your own life course. So if I can say that in any tiny way, I have done something small to become a better version from what I was yesterday. And that something could be that maybe I learned a new word.
Something as small as that. Like maybe I walked 20 more steps today than I did yesterday. But how are you working on becoming a better version? Because that’s all you need to become.
I don’t need to become better than you. You don’t need to become better than me. We don’t need to become better than all those people on Facebook. We just need to become better than ourselves.
That is your only true competition. So gently work on that. Love yourself and just embrace the year for what it is, have fun with it and just don’t take life too seriously. It’s not worth it. There’s nothing to be taken so seriously, not yourself, not your life.
Priya Florence Shah is the Group Editor at SHEROES and author of Devi2Diva, an emotional self-care book for women.
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