Living Your Best Life in 2021 Part One: No More Living in Fear

Happy New Year!

It’s the first week of a brand-new year, and I think I speak for many (if the statuses I saw all morning on social media are any indication of how people feel) when I say that it was nice to begin the new year on a Thursday evening so that it all turned into one long weekend. That week between Christmas and New Year when the world is literally just a blur of sleeping late, being very lazy, organizing your life, saying goodbye to Christmas, and just trying to figure out why there is always so much new stuff to open/assemble/put away is a lot. We are all exhausted from the five months prior. Honestly, though; it’s hectic non-stop from the time the kids go back to school and fall sports begin to the Halloween celebrations and the Thanksgiving celebrations and the Christmas celebrations. Try as we might, we never have a free evening or weekend from August to January due to all the fun that we have going on in our lives.

I’m not complaining about that, of course, but I will say that it’s exhausting. By the time January 1 is here, my body is in shutdown mode. I’m run down, tired, exhausted, running on fumes…you name it. It’s a lot. Thankfully, January is the slowest (read: most blissfully boring) month of the year, and also the time I like to keep my calendar clear and my plate empty. February starts our other season of so busy we can’t breathe (all the way to June), and I like to take this month to just be. Relax. Sit. Sleep a little late. Read some books. Recharge my creative juices. It’s a good month.

January is such a great month to look back, too, over the course of the last year. 2021 is my 38th year on earth, and I’m still amazed at how much can change without anyone even noticing in the course of one year. So much can change – and does change – and it’s such a good time to point out just how simple it is to change your life 180 in a year. On that note, I won’t pretend 2020 was a bad year for us. It was a delightful year. I’m sorry for those who didn’t have a good year, but people have bad years all the time and that shouldn’t stop anyone from feeling guilty about not having a bad year. It doesn’t dull my sparkle, you know? Perhaps that sounds callous, but I also don’t like to dwell in negatively or borrow trouble. Sure, my heart is sad for those who lost someone in 2020 (just as it is sad for those who lost someone any year of their lives, ever). My heart hurts for those who are without jobs, without income, those who are unable to open their own businesses back up, those who are struggling. My heart always hurts for those in trouble.

2020 wasn’t a normal year. At times, it sucked. But, I can promise you that I can look back on 38 other years and tell you that while there were times each and every year that sucked, the sucky parts are far overshadowed by the many good things that happened. I’m a Floridian. With the exception of the first few months of the pandemic when the world was terrifying and scary and we didn’t know what was happening and everything shut down and the future seemed very uncertain, life has been pretty normal around here, and that’s nothing I take for granted.

That said, I know a lot of people are currently living in fear – and I’m here to tell you that you cannot do it. You cannot live with a dark heart and a dark mind and negative thoughts. Fear is your imagination running wild, and it’s no way to live. In fact, the term living in fear is nothing but an oxymoron because you aren’t living if you are in fear. That’s no way of life. Perhaps you don’t realize it, but choosing to live a life of fear is the same thing as choosing to life an unhealthy life. Fear affects more than you realize, and it’s bad, bad, bad for your body, your mind, your soul, your quality of life.

Aside from missing out on living a happy, fulfilled life of abundance, here’s what you’re doing to yourself by choosing to live in fear.

You’re weakening your immune system

If ever there was a time in which you want your immune system to work at its highest capacity, it’s now. However, you’re weakening it by living in fear. Fear causes an increased chance of cardiovascular issues, gastrointestinal problems, ulcers, IBS, fertility issues, and you age faster. Honestly, you’re making yourself sick living in fear.

You’re causing mental health issues

No one wants to suffer from mental health issues, but living in a chronic state of fear does just that. Your fear can increase your chance of developing depression, and it can even cause PTSD.

You’re killing your sleep schedule

Everyone knows by now that you need a good night of sleep to function at full capacity the next day. If your fear is keeping you up at night, you’re killing yourself. You’re making your metabolism work slower, you’re causing fatigue, you’re lacking energy, you’re in a bad mood, and you’re brain isn’t functioning properly.

You’re ruining your brain’s ability to process and react

I’m a chronic over-reactor. I react, then I think about it (I apologize a lot). Chronic fear, however, takes your brain’s ability to process new information and form appropriate reactions and messes it all up. Your brain then fails to regulate your emotions. You lose the ability to take social cues and other non-verbal cues. You no longer make logical decisions, and you’re more likely to react impulsively.

You’re ruining your own relationships with others

At the end of the day, you’re not really doing a good job of maintaining relationships and healthy boundaries when you live in fear. You’re more likely in a bad mood all the time. You’re probably negative. You probably react without thinking first. You probably come across as irrational and out of control more often than not. Essentially, you’re pushing people away from you. You’re alienating yourself, you’re becoming lonely, and you’re left wondering what’s wrong with you. Now you’re stressed, and we all know what chronic stress does to the body.

You cannot live in fear

You cannot do it. You cannot allow fear to control your life. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious or that you should ignore danger when it’s present, but it does mean that you must stop living in a place of fear. Take back your own health and your own mental stability and stop. I’m not a medical professional (there isn’t enough money in the world to make me ever want to work in public heath or education, to be honest), but I know that there are people you can talk to if you’re feeling overwhelmed, fearful, or you’re not sure how to get over these feelings of fear. What I also know is that you have to make it a priority this year. Your health, your life, your quality of living, and everything in between is counting on you ending your fear and living your best life.