Your Top 3 Stress-Relievers of 2017

The end of the year is often a time of reflection, taking stock of how things went in many areas in the 'wheel of life' (eg, financial, relationships, health, etc) and setting goals for the new year. 

While I've done many of these sorts of exercises in the past, this year I was thinking of a different type of reflection, one which addresses the more subtle underpinnings of our lives and can point to things we want to accentuate in 2018 or de-emphasize in the new year. These reflections won't necessarily result in goals or "new year's resolutions", but form an underlying awareness which can change our moment-to-moment choices–which can have a big impact on our everyday experience and quality of life. 

Building on Strengths

Here's a new, one-page mandala colouring journal which you can colour in while you reflect on some strengths of your own year:

  • What were your top 3 stress relievers ?
  • What were your top 3 most positive experiences ?

and then, with those in mind: 

  • What are your top 3 "notes to self" for next year?

Journalling Tips

There are many ways to do this kind of reflection of course, but here are a few tips if you'd like some, once you've downloaded the one-page colouring journal:

  • Easiest way to get started: just write today's date in the date box and colour in one space! 
  • Don't worry about "finishing" the exercise or doing it "right." Just thinking about the questions (in the shower; while you're out for a walk) will set your inner mind to formulate some answers, even if you don't write down anything at all. 
  • Take all the time pressure off while doing this reflection; you can jot down a few things as you think of them, or colour in a few spaces as you want, and come back to it over time, over the next few days or even the next few weeks. 
  • Do this reflection "on the fly" (eg before going out or before a meal) or make a more formal ritual of it–make a date with yourself to set aside some quiet time and create a contemplative environment with music, lighting, etc.  
  • Go back and forth from colouring to thinking to writing to facilitate the process. 
  • Brainstorm all of your stress relievers and positive events of the year and then star or circle your top 3 when done.
  • "Stress relievers" can be anything at all: They might include:
    • things you've done, of the more passive and relaxing variety (eg colouring)
    • more active, uplifting and energizing activities (eg exercising)
    • advice you've been given (eg "simplify things,"),
    • a specific person or animal (eg your best friend or a pet), or
    • a strategy you've used (taking time to wind down before bedtime)
    • anything you've done, thought, of or experienced which has made you feel better.
  • "Positive experiences" can be times when you felt particularly nurtured, loved, secure, inspired, hopeful, blessed, confident, peaceful, joyful, in-the-flow, happy, proud, grateful, etc. They can be discrete events or come as a result of longer-term processes (like the process of resolving a long-standing problem or navigating your way through a transition or even the development of a mental-emotional process, like becoming more flexible.) 
  • Use your 2017 calendar or datebook to jog more memories of your experiences.
  • Your "Top 3 thoughts Notes to Self" can be strategies, affirmations, goals, etc.–anything you want to remind yourself of, in the coming year. 
  • If you really like digital lists as I do, you might want to brainstorm your lists on the computer and then transfer your "top 3" to your colour journal for the final results.
  • Save your one-page journal so it can be a quick, easy and enjoyable way to review your thoughts every quarter or at the end of next year. 

Did the results surprise you?

When I went through this process myself, I didn't anticipate some of the answers I got. For example, I certainly didn't expect one in my long list of stress-relievers (to nap for 20 minutes) to make it into the top three! I invite you to leave your thoughts about this reflective practice in the Comments section below, especially if you too are surprised by any of your results.

Download the "Top 3 Stress Relievers" Colouring Journal Page


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