It’s that time of year again when everyone starts thinking about goals and resolutions. I gave up on making resolutions a few years ago when I realized that, like a lot of people, I never kept them, and even forgot what they were by March. I do have goals in mind, though, that I refined throughout 2016 and will carry into 2017. One of the foremost is to finish my first book. I’ve pushed back the timeline again and again, but it seems that, given my circumstances this coming year, the timeline will need to solidify.
For my day job, I teach science to middle school students, and because I’m a teacher, I get that lovely two month break over the summer where I still get paid. Note, for those of you unfamiliar with this system, my salary is spread out over twelve months instead of just the months I’m teaching. This will give me two months where I can write and still get a paycheck. My husband and I are also planning to adopt a baby, and this could possibly happen in the second half of 2017. I imagine I’m going to be crazy busy once a baby enters our lives, so the deadline to get the book done needs to be before the baby comes.
I got a little distracted over Christmas break by going on dates with my husband and trying recipes in a new cookbook, so I didn’t get as much writing done as I had planned. I did make progress, though, and my plan is to push through the first draft to get it done by the end of May. Then I’ll edit it in June and send it to agents and/or publishers in July.
The challenge will be continuing to write once school begins next week. That always seems to be the case for any activities outside of work. How do I fit it all in, whether it’s writing fiction, or exercising, or taking my dog for a walk? Is it possible to carve out an hour a day to write? We’re told to find balance so we can maintain our mental and emotional and physical health amidst a 40+ hour work week, but it really does seem next to impossible. Still, for the next five months until summer vacation, I’ll take a deep breath and try to fit in those activities that bring balance.
If you’re feeling anxious about the new year or feel that something is missing from your daily or weekly routine, here are four areas that I believe need to be part of our lives in order to take care of ourselves.
This year, I want to focus on reading the Bible, reading reflections on the scriptures, praying, and listening to worship music.
This is a big category for me because I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression. I think spending quality time with my husband and my dog help the most, although my spiritual and mental health also affect my emotional health. Spending time with friends is another positive way to take care of your emotional health. Cats may also help, but I’m not really a cat person. My cat tends to affect my emotional health negatively by getting into everything!
Maintaining mental health is probably very individualistic. Being an introvert, I feel the best when I can spend large quantities of time by myself, either at home or in nature. Spending that much time alone could be a negative experience for people with other personalities. Interactions with people, even positive interactions, tend to increase my stress level by draining me of energy. I think mental health is going to be a tough one for me until the school year ends because of all the job-related stress. Hopefully keeping up with my spiritual, emotional, and physical health will give me the boost I need to get through it well.
It’s less of a mystery to figure out how to work toward physical health, as long as an illness isn’t involved. It’s important to get enough sleep (for me, that means at least eight hours per night), eat healthy food, and exercise. Clean Food Crush and Beachbody (especially 21 Day Fix) are my favorite resources for healthy eating and exercise. Plus, I try to take my dog on a mile walk each day.
Here’s to a new year and fresh opportunities to improve our health and our lives. Happy New Year!
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Fireworks by Epic Fireworks