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So, what exactly is stress, and why does it make us feel angry, disconnected, and sad? Stress can creep into our daily lives if we feel misunderstood by others and ourselves. If you made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight – and statistically 45% of us do – perhaps going from 0 exercise to an ambitious goal of 5x/week at 5am, then first, good for you, and second, there’s only about an 8% chance of achievement. Rewrite that goal, dig in to understand ourselves, and alleviate some of that unwanted, unpleasant, soul-sucking stress.

Accurately depicting your resolution is a very fun, enlightening challenge! In 2019 we have so many distractions. Things are battling for our attention, from social media and TV streaming to Amazon shopping. How often do we scroll on social media with Netflix in the background? Go for a workout and text between sets? Or set out to cook a nice dinner, get a text, and end up burning the meatloaf?

The key to achieving your New Year’s resolution is to be realistic. Start by dedicating the next 15-20 minutes to uninterrupted thought. Either grab a piece of paper or put your phone on Airplane Mode before pulling up Notes. Now that you have a blank slate, get the creative juices going. Look out your window and find something you’ve never noticed before. Could be the way your power line lays, or the way the tree branches are a medley of thick and thin twists and turns of bark and buds from trunk to tip. Steady your gaze on one thing you’ve never noticed before. Write it down in as much detail as you can. Imagine where or how it started, trace it back to origin and let your mind appreciate the start of something new.

Bringing your awareness to creation can clear the mind-fog that accompanies stress. While you’re in this state of awareness/mindfulness, please ask yourself honest questions about what you wish to accomplish in 2019. Do this with positive self-talk. Be kind to yourself. Then you’re ready to set a goal that is realistic.

If you enjoyed this exercise, I invite you to create something with us at Merritt Clubs. Join Merritt’s new department, M-Brace360, and learn about the fascinating history and healing benefits of creating and coloring Mandalas (pronounced man-dah-luh). In various spiritual traditions like Buddhism and Hinduism, mandalas may be used for focusing, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation.

Join us at the Towson Club on Friday, February 8th at 6pm, or at Eldersburg Friday, February 15, also at 6pm. We’d love to have you with us! To register for either workshop or for more information, please email