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Mental Health

My New Year’s Resolution to Be More Relaxed

I have never been one for stressing about school, but when it comes to relationships, I tend to assume the worst. Time and time again I call my mom in tears, worried my friend is mad at me or convincing myself the new boy I’m talking to thinks I’m annoying. I really don’t know where this anxiety comes from, but as a result I struggle to get close to people. Many people tell me, after getting to know me, that their first impression of me was negative. In 2022, I aim to actively avoid my self-destructive overthinking and to become a more relaxed person. Here’s my four-step plan to ensure my resolution becomes a daily practice. 

SELF CARE

The first aspect of my resolution to be more relaxed is to take care of myself. I put so much pressure on myself to be the perfect friend, the strongest athlete, the kindest daughter, and so much more, that I forget to give myself a break. Recently I had mono and only let myself binge movies for a week and relax when my doctor frantically called me saying I needed to “stop moving.” Clearly, the pressure I put on myself eventually breaks me down until I’m tearing at the seams, and many times this has affected my school work, friendships, health, and general outlook on life. So, starting now, instead of waiting until January, I have promised myself to involve more self-care in my busy schedule. Self-care looks different for everyone, but for me, self-care involves saying no to plans when I need to unwind by myself, working out without resenting myself for skipping days, and treating myself to food, coffee, clothes, and more, instead of restricting myself and only buying necessities. By treating my mind and body with tenderness instead of following strict rules I make for myself as a form of self-punishment, hopefully I will have a calmer approach to my goals. 

“Hope for the best, plan for the worst.” – Lee Child

ACCEPTANCE

Next, and probably most importantly, I need to practice acceptance. Life is almost always out of our control, and worrying only causes more problems. So, the next time a friend cancels plans, my mom can’t answer my FaceTime, or a boy leaves me on read, instead of frantically imagining every possible scenario and pulling myself into a stressful fit so intense my chest burns, I want to take a deep breath and accept what has happened. Of course, this is easier said than done, but I would rather give it a shot than experience another mental breakdown. I know I can only control my own actions, and trying to figure out why things happen to me stresses me out. I need to acknowledge what has occurred and not dwell on the past. The key to being a more relaxed, go-with-the-flow person is to accept whatever life throws at you, no matter how painful it may be. 

PUT THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE

Similar to acceptance, putting things into perspective will not only help with my overthinking, but make me realize other people are very similar to me. It makes no sense to stress about a friend being late to a dinner date when I can count various cases where I’ve had a terrible day and can’t mentally, physically, spiritually, metaphysically, or in any way follow through with my promises. Everyone around us is human as well, so instead of selfishly analysing everyone’s moves like life is a huge game of chess, I need to realize the emotions I experience are just as present in others lives and they need forgiveness and care just as much as I do. I need to remember that even with my closest of friends, I will never understand every aspect of their life and expecting them to always put me first is unfair. 

AFFIRMATIONS

Finally, I plan on reminding myself daily how important I am. I tend to compare myself with other people: from treadmill speed to hair length, I make everything a competition. Even though my self-confidence is healthy, my toxic strive to always be better negatively impacts my mental health. In order to remain more relaxed, I need to tell myself I am successful even when I’m not the best at what I’m doing. Every month I write affirmations on my desk-top calendar so every time I sit down at my desk and I am reminded “You are strong just for lifting weights,” “Being a double-major is hard and it’s okay to not have straight As,” and most importantly, “Let life happen to you and release your need to control”. Through these little notes-to-self, I release the need to be competitive in everything, which makes me less stressed and overall happier. 

Even though many people in my life would describe me as chill and peaceful, I am human and still face my demons, even if they are behind closed doors. Overthinking is a black hole I allow myself to fall into time and time again, but I refuse to continue approaching life with my guard up. I would love to approach every challenge in the future with logic instead of emotion because this will not only help me personally relax, but also improve my interactions with other people.

Lanaya Oliver

CU Boulder '24

Lanaya is originally from Colorado but has lived all over the world. She loves to play sports, paint, write, and bake. She is double majoring in Psychology and Spanish and dreams of becoming a sports psychologist!
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