Before listing all your new year’s resolutions for 2022, focus on training your emotional brain to have fun while meeting your goals for the New Year. These neuroscience-based tips can be used to create a happy, healthy new year:
1. Choose natural pleasures over artificial pleasures
Your brain needs fun. It calms stress and opens the mind to new possibilities. Instead of choosing artificial, addictive delights like refined sugars and alcohol, train your brain to the joy that comes from simple activities like dancing to music, walking your dog, or playing games. These natural pleasures will help to turn off those urges for sugar and alcohol, especially in the evenings when your brain’s neurotransmitters are drained after a hard day at work.
2. Make more time for emotional connection
As human beings, our deepest need is to connect with others emotionally. We tend to overeat or drink too much when we need those social connections that aren’t available to us. Our brains rewire and find artificial replacements like sugar, alcohol, spending, and texting. Rather than planning solo activities to recharge during the year, find ways to connect with others. Even watching heart-warming movies, or listening to people will help. The emotional brain needs the experience of the human voice, not just healthy eating and exercise.
3. Love yourself before you attract friends or a partner
To find new friends or a particular partner is a typical new year’s resolution. However, we attract people who share our emotional set point, whether we want it or not. The healthiest way to attract new people in your life is to raise your emotional set point. Clear your emotions from hurts in the past and learn to love yourself first. This will set a perfect foundation for loving others and will attract people who are emotionally secure themselves.
4. Check your stress level not your feelings
If you are always contemplating and overthinking, consider letting go of self-judgement. Stop asking yourself, “How do I feel?” and instead check your stress level ranging from a low one to a high five. Your feelings are only accurate in positions of low stress. In states of high-stress levels, when you feel overwhelmed or numb, your emotions only activate old thought patterns and cravings. Remind yourself to focus on your stress level instead of feelings. This self-regulation will increase self-compassion and relieve stress.
5. Embrace stress – it helps to rewire your brain
Change the way you think about stress. Instead of it being overwhelming and harmful, this pressure can be an opportunity for the brain to unlock self-limiting behaviour and changing them. As in psychotherapy, rewiring the brain can be stressful in itself. Learn to view stressful situations as moments of opportunity to rewire the past and reset your emotional set point to handle stressful situations better in the future.