How to finish the year frenzy free

 Finishing the year strong and slowing down seems like an oxymoron. For many, the former means doing everything you can to achieve your goals or ticking all items off your to-do list before you ring in the new year. But being able to slow down and take stock of what matters to you before moving forward can be the key to having a clearer mind to finish the year. The Harvard Business Review even found that companies that “chose to go, go, go to try to gain an edge” ended up with lower sales compared to firms that paused “to make sure they were on the right track.” 

However you want to end the year—just staying at home to read your books or being true to your overachiever self—taking a pause, staying still for a moment in these last few weeks is good for all of us. With holiday stress that can affect our mental and physical health, we all need to be able to reflect and relax to finish the year frenzy free. Here are a few things we can do. 

1. Meditate.

Practiced for thousands of years, meditation has long been recognized for its many benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, enabling you to gain a new perspective on stressful situations, reducing negative emotions, and more. 

You can meditate for just 5 to 10 minutes each day. First, find a position you can stay in for a while—seated on your sofa, cross-legged on the floor, on the backseat of a car. Be aware of your breath as you inhale and exhale. When your mind wanders (as it usually does for everyone so don’t be too hard on yourself), just bring your attention back to your breath. 

We love how reminds us to close one’s meditation with kindness—to take a moment to be aware of your surroundings, how your body feels, and notice your thoughts and emotions. Don’t forget to light up a candle (love the ones from Simoy ng Haraya) to keep the soothing vibe going.

2. Get some sun.

Stepping away from the screen and out of the house (or the office) for a few minutes can be a good mood booster. It might also have to do with the fact that a dose of Vitamin D from the sun plays an important role in regulating mood and reducing the risk of depression.

If you find yourself getting all mopey this time of the year, get out. An outing doesn’t even have to require a passport, booking accommodations, or enduring heavy traffic. You can take your bike around BGC to get the creative juices flowing or just go on a neighborhood tour to spot cafes, shops, and art spots.

3. Look outside.

Now, what if you don’t want to go out? What if your introverted self is on hyperdrive this season? Make sure you at least get to see the outside world, whether it’s from the huge windows of your condo (as how Common Room’s Maan used to do it when she would get stressed at her day job during the pandemic) or just simply try to find a different perspective as you take stock of what has changed, how far you’ve come, and how far you have left to go.

4. Visualize.

If your form of relaxation is journaling or writing down your thoughts to further understand yourself or the situation you’re in, creating a vision or dream board is something you ought to try doing. Putting up a collection of images and quotes that inspire and motivate you to fulfill your dreams isn’t something new, but it sure has its devotees. 

Filmmaker and Common Room’s resident videographer, Tin Villanueva showed us at the start of the year how to create a vision board. You need to take the time to reflect on what you want to happen. It also means “breaking down your dream… you need to have specific actions,” says Tin, who has seen most of the goals she has committed to her vision board come true. (Learn more about how she does it, in this video.)

5. Find the funny.

A lot of the things happening in the world are enough to make one lose their faith in humanity. Sometimes it’s hard to find a reason to smile, what more laugh? But being able to laugh with your family and friends not only makes us feel good, but it’s also good for our physical health and well-being. 

So find those memes that make you LOL. Open a comic book that will tickle your funny bone. While laughter won’t cure all ailments, it actually affects our bodies positively. From stimulating our organs (thanks to oxygen-rich air for our heart and lungs) to relieving your stress response so you end up feeling good and relaxed.

6. Celebrate small wins.

What if you didn’t get to accomplish all the goals you’ve set out to do this year? Take a look at all the other things you’ve done heading towards it, all those small steps you took to make you a better illustrator, to sell more of your homemade products, to be comfortable in your own voice. Celebrate each brave step you took. 

Journaling enthusiast and artist Nica Cosio makes it a personal tradition to look through her journal to remind her of all the good things that have happened. “Even if I didn’t meet all my goals!” says the mom of three. “Most of the time, what stands out are the bad memories, the losses and we lose sight of all the good things.” When she looks back at all the good and all those small wins she had put down in her journal, “It gets easier to be more  hopeful.”

This is backed by science. According to research, feeling a sense of pride over our victories “activates the reward center of our brains. Dopamine is released which energizes us with feel-good emotions, which in turn can make you want to achieve even more. Looking back at our small wins can make us feel motivated to take on the bigger tasks towards our goals. Hey, every bit helps, especially when we welcome 2024.  

Words by Mabel David-Pilar
Mabel has been a writer and editor for many publications, including shelter and food titles and a book on the most endangered Philippine trees. She spends most of her time writing, illustrating, stalking Common Room’s online shop, and making ferments. Together with her sisters, she co-created to celebrate fermenting in the Philippines.