December 29, 2017

Take Care of Yourself, Man: A Resolution Worth Keeping

A man shaving in front of a mirror

2018 is almost here. For many of us, it means setting goals for the new year and thinking about how we might improve our lives. While there are plenty of jokes to be made about the unreasonably lofty goals some guys set (re: "This year, I'm getting in shape, paying off my mortgage, getting a raise and finding the woman of my dreams"), committing to a smart goal or two for a new year can be a great way to make your life a little better. Here are a few of our favorites.

Create some phone boundaries: That little supercomputer you call a "phone" is nothing short of amazing. Emails, news updates, cat videos, podcasts, texts...it's astounding what that little thing can do for you. But like any relationship, it's also good to have a little "alone time" too. Try setting aside some time each day where you don't check your phone. Maybe that means not looking at it for the first 30 minutes of your day when you're just waking up. Perhaps it means leaving it in your pocket in "silent mode" every time you have dinner with a friend or your significant other. It could be driving in total silence once a week and just paying attention to the road. Whatever you choose, give yourself some time away from the constant "updates" and you'll likely find that you can better focus on the task at hand. If you're like me, you might find that you feel more relaxed and creative in those moments, too. 

Move more: Not ready to commit to the clichéd resolution of running, lifting weights and taking yoga classes five times each per week? You don't have to. No matter your current level of exercise, there are serious benefits to breaking up the monotony of sitting still all day. Do you work at a desk? Take a quick lap around your office every couple of hours. Get up and stretch, or even knock out a few flights of stairs between meetings. No matter what you choose to do, a little extra movement in the midst of a sedentary day will make your body and brain a little happier without costing you much time. 

Make getting ready a ritual: Yes, we're aware this sounds like a marketing gimmick, but hear us out. There's a reason you get good ideas in the shower. Your morning shower is the perfect time for epiphanies because your brain is likely still warming up and not yet full of all of the distractions that will be bouncing around in there by midday. What's more, the easy nature of scrubbing up means you still have plenty of mental capacity to let your mind wander freely. Layer on the relaxation that comes with the sensation of hot water, fragrant soap and shampoo, and WHAM!--you're all set for some serious insights. But, if you're trying to multitask with podcasts, television and/or emails, you're robbing yourself of what should be some of the most blissful moments of your day. Make getting ready as much about preparing your mind for the day as your appearance. There's a reason we call it "a ritual." 

Giving your mind that daily five to ten minutes to think about whatever while you're in the shower is great. What's even better is turning that time into a mindfulness meditation. It's easier than it sounds. Rather than thinking about whatever pops into your head, try focusing exclusively on the feeling of the water droplets as they land on you, or the sound of the water running. Every time your mind wanders to something else (and it will), just bring your mental focus back to your original object of attention. Even just a couple minutes of this mental exercise each day can change the way your brain works for the better.