A Dumpster Fire is defined by the Urban Dictionary as 1. A complete disaster and 2. Something very difficult that nobody wants to deal with.
Sound like your 2016?
Anyone, even an optimist such as myself, can admit that 2016 was a tough year. Between the growing division in our country surrounding the election and its results and the number of influential people that were lost (RIP David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and THEN her Mom! <sob>) it was a tough one.
Want to commemorate such a year? You can purchase THIS on Etsy:
Even if you take the state of the world out of the equation, life at times is just plain hard. One kid gets sick, and then another. You get a flat tire, the dishwasher breaks and your cat needs to be put down. Just when you think nothing more can happen to one family, your husband loses his job.
We ALL have had weeks like that. Or months. Or maybe a year (or two).
When you are in the thick of it, when one challenge after another seems to rear its ugly head, you can easily begin to keep score. Putting another tally mark under “life sucks/why me?” may be a natural reaction, but once you start, it is very hard to stop. Each time ANYTHING happens in the world or to you, it’s easy to point to that scoreboard and say, “SEE! I knew it!” while feeling increasingly helpless and hopeless.
On the other hand, I do not want to minimize anyone’s pain or life challenges because I KNOW that life is SO HARD sometimes. Let’s not dismiss our troubles and hard days nor stuff them down. In my experience when we do, we carry it around as baggage that can weigh heavily on our shoulders.
I try to acknowledge the pain, deal with the stress and then use one of these coping strategies below. Whether your 2016 was a dumpster fire or not, here are my strategies for a fresh start in 2017:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Yes, this is so Oprah 1996 but it works. Write down five things that you are grateful for every day. Some days it will not be easy for you but you can do it. Here are five things I’m grateful for EVERY day: a warm house, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, my health, and family and friends who love me.
- Meditate. I’m a yoga teacher so I get to say this. Be present, focus on your breathing and give yourself some peace and quiet. Doing this will rewire your brain. It’s science! There are plenty of apps for this, check one out and notice the difference.
- Daily fresh air and exercise. If it works for our kids it works for us. Get out every day for a few minutes and your outlook and energy levels will improve.
- Consciously stop yourself when you start keeping score. Maybe even say out loud, “STOP!” and then start listing off a few things that are going right for you. If your kids or a random stranger hear you, don’t worry. Just tell them you’re giving yourself a pep talk (my kids are very used to this).
- Meet a friend for coffee, a walk or a glass of wine.
- Ask yourself who could use help from you today. In my worst moments what helps me the most is when I make a meal for a new mom or call someone I know that may be having a much harder time than me. I feel good knowing that I’m supporting someone and at the same time it helps me get out of my own head.
- Tell yourself, “Someday this will make a good story.” Think about the best stories of your life. You may notice that they are often moments that weren’t so funny or interesting at the time. All good stories have conflict within them. Live your story!
- Take a break from your stressful moment, day or week and watch a funny movie, send a silly Snapchat pic to your sister or roll your eyes at the ridiculousness that life can take. I use this coping strategy often as evidenced here:
I guarantee you that in 2017 you will have pain and sorrow, you will have discouragement and disagreements. You will have days where everything will go wrong, and then more will go wrong.
But there is so much more.
Life is messy and hard but it is so full of warmth, silliness, love, sheer joy and beauty.
In 2017 I intend to soak in the beautiful and ordinary moments in my life and spend less time keeping score of the junk that can weigh me down.
I don’t believe in new years resolutions. But this I can do.
How about you? What are you looking forward to in 2017?