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Hello, it's Chelsea from The Financial Diet.

And I want to talk to you really quickly about our amazing, exciting, incredible, influential, iconic, unbeatable studio at TFD, AKA our events department. Right now, they're all digital.

Although, hopefully soon, they'll be coming back to a live space near you. But every month, the studio at TFD produces several amazing interactive live events, and we have all of our events and more at Hey, guys.

It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And this week's video is brought to you by Skillshare. And if you've been looking for a great place to learn about money every week that doesn't make you want to curl up in a ball and cry, hit our Subscribe button down below.

And if you already subscribed but want way more awesome stuff, click the Join button to become a TFD premium member. And today, I'm in my cozy sweater. I'm sitting camp counselor crisscross applesauce because we are here to feel good, to take care of ourselves, and to fight against the absolute garbage that was 2020, which is so beautifully drawing to a close finally.

Not that 2021 is going to be a night-and-day situation when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, but hard to imagine the whole next year being worse. Let's put it that way. Like a lot of you guys, I have been in kind of a perfect storm of factors that would create, at minimum, a mild depression and, at worst, an inability to go about my day-to-day life.

Obviously, there is COVID, I am once again separated from my husband, and this time, it's for the actual holiday season, which is even more depressing. Then, of course, we have good-old seasonal affective disorder. I'm filming this at 3:45 in the afternoon, and it's basically, like, Sleepy Hollow dark out there.

The holidays this year look like they're going to be, at minimum, not that festive, and so on and so forth. Basically, this is a year where almost every external factor is conspiring against us. And even if you're someone who does not naturally tend toward depression, it can feel very, very difficult to resist all of those factors sort of pulling you down.

But I find that when it comes to fighting against this, creating actual habits is often much more difficult than shifting our perception or our mindset around different issues. These changes in approach allow habits to be more easily woven into our life and good ones to replace bad ones, and it allows the habits to build on each other in sort of an interlocking, "greater than the sum of their parts" kind of way, i.e. eating well gives you more energy for exercise; exercise allows you to sleep better; sleeping better allows you to work more productively and sharply; et cetera, et cetera. So in an effort to get through this particularly depressing time in a particularly strong way, I have instituted the following mindset shifts in how I do, basically, everything.

Number one is accountability groups for, well, everything. Fun fact, I am currently in some kind of accountability group circle or partnership for the following things-- morning yoga, 10,000 steps a day, after-work Pilates, career mentorship, and just good-old regular therapy. Put together like that, it may seem excessive.

But for the most part, all of these require a very small check in and mostly just serve to make me more aware of these things or more likely to do them. And with most of these activities, I know they have a tendency to snowball and make the rest of my life easier, especially when it comes to things that I really struggle with like my tendency towards insomnia. On a day when I'm hitting all of these things, particularly morning yoga, 10,000 steps a day, and Pilates-- which does happen-- I sleep the sleep of the innocent.

And listen, I am no exception. In general, accountability groups or partnerships are demonstrated to be effective. When working on goals, it is possible to increase one's chances for success to a 95% rate.

The American Society of Training and Development found that people are 65% likely to meet a goal after committing to another person. Their chances of success then increased to 95% when they built in ongoing meetings with their partners to check in on that progress. And for most of us, the most obvious place to start implementing that extra layer of accountability comes in around physical fitness.

Especially entering the winter months, it can be harder and harder to motivate yourself to get the exercise that you need. And as mentioned before, that tends to have such a huge impact on nearly every other element of our lives. But the good news is accountability is sort of the magic key to getting better about working out. "In my 10 years of experience evaluating what creates long-term health-and-fitness success, the single most important factor is having a support system" says Wayne Anderson MD, co-founder and medical director of Take Shape for Life, a nationwide health and lifestyle coaching program based in Owings Mills, Maryland.

Exercise partners provide a powerful combination of support, accountability, motivation, and, in some cases, healthy competition. They can play the role of teammate, co-coach, and cheerleader all while working out says Michelle P. Maidenberg, PhD, MPH, and clinical director of Westchester Group Works in Harris, New York.

Bottom line, the buddy system works. Number two is giving myself permission first. Now this method might seem like a one-way ticket to overindulgence, but I find that a key element of making things feel manageable for myself when it comes to things that I'm not really looking forward to doing or if I'm finding myself wanting to indulge in a way that isn't necessarily healthy, be it in certain foods, behaviors, or opting out of things I know I should be doing, I've always found that the act of denial itself can create a very negative feedback loop and ultimately leave me wanting to do the thing more.

I'll often usually end up doing it anyway, and then feeling terrible about it afterwards. Now this can be with almost any element of, let's just say, your lesser instincts, like for example, when you know you should be dealing with that enormous pile of laundry in your room that's essentially blocking out the sun at this point, but all you really want to do is sit on your couch and watch more reality television-- not that I've ever experienced that. But this idea of giving yourself permission to avoid that sort of denial, abstain, regret, repeat cycle is with our eating habits.

Many people have found refuge from the crash-dieting culture and a level of sustainability in something called "intuitive eating," which is a practice that breaks down a lot of the mental and emotional barriers we have around food and allows us to create a system of eating that feels right for us. And one of the tenants of this is all about that permission, as intuitive eating refers to it "making peace with food." As they put it, "Call a truce, stop the food fight, give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can't or you shouldn't have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation, which build into uncontrollable cravings and then often binging When you finally give in to your forbidden foods, eating will be experienced with such intensity that it usually results in Last Supper overeating and overwhelming guilt." So if, for example, I find myself craving something like that pint of cookies and cream ice cream I have in the freezer into which I crushed up more Oreos, I say, sure, have at it.

I have a few bites. I take a second. I think about it.

Do I want more? And sometimes I do, but a lot of the time, I don't. Similarly, if I still want to avoid that thing around the house I know I should be doing and I want to watch an episode of television, give myself permission to watch the episode of television.

And usually, by taking real satisfaction in that thing you are allowing yourself to do, you will find that you don't need to be squirrely and grabby about it. You can just do it, enjoy it, then move on to something else. And even if you don't end up achieving more, you free yourself from that maddening cycle of wanting something, preventing yourself from having it, still wanting it, and then overindulging in it, and then feeling bad.

And even if that's all you get rid of, that is a worthy thing to cut out of the list. Number 3 is making painless swaps and adjustments wherever possible. One of the things that can feel so difficult when you're going through any sort of depressive episode or circumstance is making the "right choices" in all of your day-to-day options, things like opting for nutrient-dense foods, good sleep hygiene, going outside when it's frigid and dark, working out regularly, et cetera, et cetera.

All of them can feel painfully out of reach, and it's just so easy to opt into the things that feel good in the short term. So I have taken the time to make an actual, real-life list of all of the little things I can swap in and out or adjust slightly that are functionally quite painless for me but improve my day. Just a few examples-- switching to sparkling water.

I allow myself a small collection of flavors from other sugar or aspartame-heavy drinks during the day. Although, I still do love an occasional Crystal Light. Putting on a real outfit in the morning rather than sweats or pajamas, and doing my brows/eyes slightly in the morning as well as swiping on a bit of lip color.

And I know this one is controversial for some, but I really do find that it makes a big difference for me in terms of going out of the house more frequently throughout the day and feeling better on all my video calls. Leaving veggies, dip, and nuts within my reach on my desk during the afternoon for healthy grazing if I get hungry because I'll usually opt for whatever is right in front of me rather than getting up to get at the kettle chips again. Swapping in a really nice coloring book instead of watercolor markers instead of more mindless eating or playing on my phone while watching a show or movie.

And starting my day with a bit of yoga and stretching, where I can listen to any podcast I like, and take a multivitamin/drinking some water first thing rather than launching right into scrolling social media and chugging espresso. All of these swaps for me have been relatively painless and have really made each day feel healthier and, all around, more manageable. It's likely that, in your life, there are several places you can identify where you can swap in a slightly better option for what you're currently doing.

And the best part is it doesn't have to be any bigger than just that little thing. Focusing less on totally revamping your life and more on making each individual choice the best version it can be is a great way to sort of backdoor yourself into a better overall routine. Number 4 is doing little self-experimentation with relatively low stakes.

One thing that I find allows you to get sort of a healthy critical distance on your own brain is finding a few things with which you can experiment to see how it impacts your physical and mental well-being or what impact that has on the rest of your life. It really does help instill that sense of control as well as that aforementioned sense of distance in a world that can feel, frankly, more and more out of control but also in a mental state where it often feels like you're just succumbing to your pre-existing routines. For example, I'm currently doing a month long retinol regimen to see what it does to help improve my skin, which is something I've struggled with my whole life.

And I already, on day four as of today, feel really kind of interested in it. I like tracking the progress, and it gives me just a nice little thing to focus on where I'm sort of out of my brain for a moment when I'm working on my little skincare routine and noting the results. And I've also recently done this with several other things in my life.

And each time I'm reminded that the way I did things yesterday is not necessarily how I have to do them tomorrow and that small changes can yield big results. But again, especially, it gives me that sense of control over each of the individual choices I'm making in, again, relatively low-stakes ways. And the act of isolating a particular variable in your life and just working on that gives you a much greater sense of willpower than if you try to change many things at once.

When you run a self experiment, you force yourself to take action by sticking to just one particular plan for a designated period of time, making sure it's enough time. This plan could be a diet, a sleep schedule, or a beneficial action like writing or meditating every day. Running a self-experiment forcing you to beat what Steven Pressfield calls resistance into submission from his book The War of Art.

Number 5 is reducing my horizons as much as possible. It may sound like hyperbole, but I'm not exaggerating when I say that I go as much out of my way as possible to reduce my horizons to basically just the rest of the week and the coming weekend. I do as much as I can to not really try and consider too much beyond it, to not project too much on it, to not expect or anticipate too many things.

For example, as I'm filming this, Thanksgiving is next week, and I'm still fairly unclear as to what that will end up shaking out like, but I've allowed myself to sort of be open to all possible outcomes and to not spend too much time thinking about it. And this is not just so that I don't inevitably get disappointed when an outside factor alters my plans, such as new lockdown restrictions for example, it's also because it reduces the pressure that I feel to have a good month, or a good holiday, or a good rest of the year, or a good birthday. It becomes just about having a good day.

And maybe if I stock a couple of those good days up in a row, it'll be a good week. And those parameters I can work within and even be likely to thrive in because they are relatively in my control and ability to plan for. And this also reduces the extent to which I'm comparing any given thing, even unintentionally, to a "normal" version of it, which is all important in the year of COVID.

For example, today is just a random day in the month of November. I don't remember what I was doing on exactly this day a year ago or what it "should" look like, so it sort of removes that automatic comparison factor. Obviously, for big days like holidays, it's difficult to not make the comparison.

But at minimum, you can commit to not worrying about it until you have to. And chances are, even if you can remember other things that you liked to do in non-COVID times, there are still many ways to have a good day that would be good at any standard-- going for a nice walk, eating a great meal, watching a good movie, talking to friends, all of these things would have made a good day regardless of what's going on in the world. And that, you can control.

Number 6 is being a kind of self-sorting hat for in my house versus out of my house. So I definitely look crazy when I'm doing this, so sorry to the FBI agent assigned to my webcam that has to see me do this frequently, but often when I'm presented with something that makes me frustrated, or anxious, or disappointed, or unhappy, I literally will ask myself out loud, is this inside my house or outside of my house? For those of you who were at the big reset 2020 in October, who-hoo, you might remember my session that kind of talked about this in the context of sort of the power of habit.

I have created for myself a mental framing of, essentially, things that are in my control or ability to impact versus out of my control-- in my house or out of my house. And I remember that even things that are outside of my house, I still control the window through which I look on these things. Because so much of therapy, quite frankly, ultimately boils down to getting a very strong understanding of what is in your control versus out of your control and learning to focus your attention and energy on the former.

In any given situation, there is peace to be found in surrendering to the realities of what is in and out of your control. And this framing can also help us understand the tendency that we have to forget that much of what we perceive to be our environment is actually ourselves. It's how we react to things.

It's how we respond. It's how we process them. It's how personally we take them-- or what we even went into a situation expecting.

And all of those things, the us part of the equation, are within our ability to control. They are in our house. And quite frequently, as we change those things, many things that we may have assumed were outside of our control, things that are environmental, start to change as well.

So by taking just a moment to think about a given situation that's upsetting me, and finding what is in and out of my house, and seeing the window through which I'm perceiving the outside gives me, at minimum, a sense of peace about what I am doing with my own behavior and my own responses to a situation. It may not give me the desired outcome, but it will allow me to feel good about my participation in it, and it will prevent me from wasting time and energy focusing on something that I can't change. The more you can make this a frequent part of your own mental exercises and take a moment to think about it before you react to or respond to a situation, the more it will become an effortless sort of mental "sorting hat." And if one of the mindset shifts you've been looking to make this year is how you're learning about things, I highly encourage you to take advantage of some of this newfound COVID-induced free time to check out Skillshare.

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Right now, Skillshare is offering classes on professional-level product photography, houseplant maintenance, and defining your creative style. In the class "Photography-- How to Shoot and Edit Conceptual Photos on Your Phone," taught by Amelie Satzger, you'll learn how to shoot and edit professional-level images solely on your iPhone with entirely free software. Skillshare is curated specifically for learning, meaning there are no ads, and they're always launching new premium classes, so you can stay focused and follow wherever your creativity takes you.

And it's less than $10 a month with an annual subscription, so click the link in our description to get started. And as always, guys, thank you for watching, and don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Goodbye!