Helping you make the best of the last weeks of the year.
Note: When everyone else is bombarding you with year-end sales, I’m giving you a gift. The Speaking Bipolar’s 30 Day Life Tune Up Workbook and Worksheets are free for everyone until December 31, 2023. Download your workbook and worksheets here.
The end of the year is hard. I first created the 30 Days of Positivity Course to help my readers navigate December.
The last weeks of the year are when we often have to cope with stressful work events, time with family, and increased social activities. When you add in bipolar disorder, you may also face more depression, anxiety, or irritability. Decreased daylight hours and more time at home can add to the weight of end-of-the-year blues.
This December, we’re going to do things differently. Instead of slipping into our usual gloom, we’re going to take the next 30 days to give your life a tune up. Most day’s activities will take less than an hour and you can break the tasks up throughout the day.
There are seven categories you can choose to improve:
- Declutter your home
- Practice gratitude
- Refresh your mind
- Celebrate wins
Instead of reaching for the moon, pick one or two areas and focus on that.
I’m using my December to get back into journaling and to clear some clutter out of my house. You should pick the areas that will work for you. Your goal is to nudge yourself in a positive direction, not burn yourself out from doing too much too fast.
You may prefer to start with one habit for this month and then tackle another goal next month. For example, this month you could focus on practicing gratitude. Next month could be exercise or journaling.
Maybe you’ll want to focus on one item per month, which means this tune up could last for seven months. Then you could start over again.
Even with a tiny effort at change, it will amaze you how much you can do.
Here’s what you can accomplish in 30 days:
- Exercise 8 hours
- Clean 8 hours
- Discard 62 items
- Write 24 pages in your journal
- List 62 reasons to be grateful
- Enjoy 30 refreshing activities
- Celebrate 44 wins
Quick tips to help you get the best out of the next 30 days.
Set a timer
For the cleaning and exercise tasks, set a timer in your kitchen or on your phone. While the goal is to increase the time you spend doing each task, you don’t want to get overwhelmed in the beginning. So set a timer and stop when the time runs out.
You can also use a timer for journaling instead of counting sentences. To do this, convert sentences to minutes or plan for 15 minutes for a full page.
Pick one room or area to focus on for the day. Your goal is to make progress, not deep clean the whole house. One day, you may choose to tackle the kitchen junk drawer. Another day, you might wipe down the baseboards in the living room.
Try to select a task you can do in the time frame. If your closet is a disaster, trying to reorganize it in 10 minutes will only cause more stress. Pick one task, such as pulling out all the shirts you no longer wear. You can tackle another area tomorrow.
If it’s been a while since you exercised, be sure to check in with your doctor before you start. Then start with easy tasks. Walking in place or pacing in the house counts.
The goal is to get you moving more than you were before. You’re not trying to set records, so go slow and improve as you can.
Get rid of things
One school of thought in cleaning up your home goes like this: On day one, you discard one thing. Day two, two things. Day three, three things, etc. Each day increases until the month ends with you discarding over 460 things.
It’s a wonderful idea, but trying to do it that way overwhelmed me. Instead, you’re going to start with one thing and then slowly ramp up each week. The max on any day is three items. It’s okay to start with tiny items, such as yesterday’s newspaper or the leftover Chinese food at the back of the fridge.
Some of you don’t enjoy writing, but I encourage you to spend a few minutes with each journal prompt. In one of my favorite books, The Artist’s Way (affiliate), Julia Cameron encourages writing a minimum of three pages every day. Her method helps a lot, but it’s not where you will start.
In fact, for the first 2 days, you only have to write 3 sentences. When you’re struggling to find words, it’s okay to fill the lines with random words. As you write each word, think about why it’s spinning in your head.
While it’s great to get out of the house, you may not always feel like it. You can do every activity virtually. If you cannot go to a gym or museum, it’s okay to take virtual classes or tours. Head over to YouTube and search for “at home exercise for beginners,” or “virtual museum tour.”
My favorite way to practice gratitude is to write each reason I’m thankful on a small slip of paper and keep the reminders in a clear glass jar. Then I have a place where I can easily see all the positive things in my life. It’s okay to repurpose a pickle, peanut butter, or other food jar. Mine is actually a pasta container. To make things easier, there’s a printable sheet to use.
One of the best ways to build your self-confidence is to celebrate all the wins in your life. As part of your Tune Up, you’ll list 1-3 wins at the end of every day. Your win can be a tiny thing, such as practicing gratitude, or a huge thing, such as organizing the worst problem area in your house. Just make sure you take a moment to acknowledge your wins at the end of every day.
You may find it simpler to combine tasks on the tougher days. If you take five minutes to mop the floor, you can also count that as your exercise. Just make sure the cleaning activity includes movement. Sadly, running your robo-vac doesn’t count as exercise unless it gets stuck in weird areas like mine does.
Some find it useful to combine journaling, practicing gratitude, and celebrating the day’s win all into one session. Pick a time and method that works well for you.
Start at your level
I wrote this challenge with beginners in mind. If you already do some of these things, up your game. For example, if you already set aside time for exercise, try to increase the duration or intensity. Keep an eye on your limits and don’t push too hard. Remember, you can trigger a manic episode with overexertion.
Either check off your progress in the workbook or the Tracker Worksheet. The Tracker Worksheet also has lines for you to add your own goals. This is a great place to list habits you want to start (e.g., reading, eating fruits and vegetables), or habits you need to stop (e.g., self-harm, binge-eating, smoking, drinking.)
My goal for December is to publish each day’s goals on the Speaking Bipolar Facebook Page. As you check items off your list for the day, click over to the daily post and share your win with us. If you’re struggling, share that, too. Remember, the goal of this tune up is to create more good in your life, so reach out for the support you need.
The last pages of the workbook include links to 60 of the most uplifting stories on the Speaking Bipolar Blog. Use these posts to help keep you motivated throughout your 30-day challenge.
The last weeks of the year are full of pressure and obligations. Be sure to keep from letting this exercise feel like another burden. Have fun, do your best, and give yourself permission to skip a day if needed. While I recommend doing the whole workbook in 30 days, you can spread it out to a time frame that works better for you.
You also have the option of picking just one item to work on. Maybe you want to start journaling, spend more time practicing gratitude, or clean out unused items in your home. This is your Tune Up, so tailor it to what you need.
Ready to get started? Let’s dive into Day 1.
Download your workbook and worksheets here.
Until next time, keep fighting.