5 tips to achieve your goals

The new year is a great time for reflection and creating intentions and setting new goals for the upcoming year. Whether you are striving to keep your New Year’s resolutions, change certain habits, learn new things, or simply looking to grow, here’s 5 ways to help you succeed.

Establish routines: We humans are creatures of habit and so creating any kind of change requires that we first create a very specific and realistic plan and then take small steps consistently towards our desired goals. Coming up with a plan and establishing a routine for the day, upcoming week, or month will help you become focused and intentional about how you plan to actualize the desired change(s). For instance, if your goal is to meditate more, you can plan a nightly session after brushing your teeth. Pairing your goal with another activity (brushing) serves as a reminder and having a routine (doing it every night) will help you slowly incorporate meditation in your lifestyle.

Make yourself a priority: You make yourself a priority by practicing self-care and self-compassion. It is crucial to make self-care a regular practice rather than something you do for yourself once in a while. You cannot pour from an empty cup so pay attention to your own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs and regularly engage in self-care practices such as meditation, exercise, hot baths, seeing a therapist, journaling or anything else that helps you recenter and restore. When you take care of yourself, you will feel energized and motivated to stay committed to your goals. Also, be mindfully compassionate towards yourself especially when your harsh inner critic comes out or when you fail at a task. Practice self-compassion by being your own cheer-leader and by offering the same advice to yourself that you would to a friend or family member. Research shows that practicing self-compassion helps people take action and reach their goals, creates emotional resilience and helps bounce back from setbacks.

Set boundaries: Setting boundaries means recognizing your needs and doing what’s best for your growth. It’s learning to say yes or no to people without worrying about disappointing/pleasing them.  For instance, it could be saying no to a late night hang out with friends if your goal is waking up early to exercise or saying yes to an invitation to a social gathering when your goal is to meet new people. Start saying no to old patterns and people that no longer support your goals and saying yes to opportunities, people and ideas that align with what you are trying to accomplish.

Find community: Surround yourself with people who you can safely and openly share with and who are supportive and encouraging of the changes you are trying to make. Create a network of people (experts, mentors, family, friends or colleagues) who can hold you accountable, inspire you, offer valuable feedback and provide words of encouragement. When you feel supported by others, you will also realize your potential of helping others towards their growth. In doing so, you will create positive and authentic connections that feel meaningful to you and others within your support network.

Develop a growth mindset: Your mindset, the way you view yourself and the world around you, shapes your perception of what’s attainable and what’s out of your reach. When you cultivate a growth mindset, you recognize your unique abilities and strengths and believe that your intelligence, talent, skill, and success can continuously grow through dedication, commitment, persistence and hard work. With this mindset, you believe that nothing is static and that failed attempts have valuable lessons to offer. So, recognize and celebrate every small win, learn from your setbacks and keep marching forward!

If you are looking for support with your vision for your life, career or relationships, schedule an appointment with us today. For more information about us visit our website www.colliancewellness.com

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10 positive ways to deal with stress

Since April is National Stress Awareness month, let’s talk STRESS. According to the “Stress in America: The State of our Nation” survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, Americans’ stress levels in 2017 were at 4.8 (on a 1 to 10 scale). Furthermore, the survey also reports that 75 percent of Americans experienced one acute symptom of stress in the month prior to the survey.

Stress occurs when the demands placed on us from school, work, friends, family, and life stressors exceed our ability to cope with them. However, it is important to note that stress affects everyone differently and that not all stress is bad. An “optimal” level of stress acts as a motivator and is needed for growth, creativity, change, and innovation. It becomes problematic when we experience “too much” stress that stays around for weeks or months. Chronic stress can lead to serious health consequences such as fatigue, anxiety, depression, a weak immune system, and heart disease amongst other health problems. However, we can mitigate the effects of stress on our body and mind by creating healthy habits.

Here are 10 positive ways you can respond to the stress in your life:

Exercise: Make time for some form of physical activity every day. It’s important to find out which activity you enjoy most (running, swimming, yoga, dancing in your apartment) and commit yourself to doing it even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day. Exercise reduces stress by stimulating the production of endorphins in the body, which acts as a natural painkiller and mood elevator.

Meditate: Research has shown meditation reduces stress. Be mindfully present for 10 minutes every day and focus on your breath and simply notice your thoughts and emotions without judgment.   

De-clutter:  Organize your work desk and remove the extra items from your wardrobe. Having lots of “stuff” lying around can overload your senses and increase stress levels. It’s officially spring (even though it doesn’t feel like it in Chicago) and a good time for Spring cleaning!

Keep a gratitude journal: Reflect on your day and write down one thing that delighted you today. Focusing on the positive happenings of the day boosts our well-being.

Make time for laughter: Laughter is indeed the best medicine. Watch a funny show, read a joke, or talk to someone who makes you laugh.

Focus on now: Most of us are either fixated on what happened to us in the past or worried about our future. Such thoughts not only take us away from the present but contribute to our stress. Remind yourself to focus on the present and simply do what you can TODAY.

Pause and relax: Take a break, still your mind, disconnect from all your tech gadgets, read a book for pleasure, plan a weekend getaway.

Connect with people: Make plans with supportive family and friends or seek out activities where you can meet new people. Having a support system acts as a buffer against stress.

Treat yourself: Make time for self-care and get a massage or buy yourself flowers the next time you’re at a grocery store. Practicing self-care regularly replenishes our reserves, boosts our energy and provides clarity.

Seek help when you need it: Pay attention to your body’s response to stress such as difficulty sleeping, increased irritability or anger, anxiety, or fatigue. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, seek professional help from a licensed mental health professional who can help you identify situations or behaviors that contribute to your chronic stress and assist you in managing your stress more effectively.


Maria Mirza is a therapist at Colliance Wellness. If you would like support in prioritizing and taking care of your emotional health and well-being, contact Colliance Wellness and see how therapy can help.