The new year is for many a time of change. All around us people are trying to reinvent themselves. Dry January, diet plans, renewed gym memberships and people making all sorts of resolutions for the year ahead.
I personally really dislike the phrase “new year new me”. It makes me feel sad. As the delightful Dr Seuss said
“Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no-one alive who is youer than you”.
I love this. I love the fact that we are all unique. So whilst we can perhaps all make changes which would make us happier, this does not have to involve changing who you are.
The start of a new year can be a great time to take stock. We can think about what has been unhelpful for us. We can think about what is effectively a new chapter in our lives and this can often make us feel hopeful. The first consideration before making any changes should always be whether you are making them for yourself or to please someone else or because someone else thinks that you “should”. My clients know how I feel about “shoulds” and this could probably be separate blog post. Generally, if we feel that we “should” or “shouldn’t” do something this is as a result of an external influence. Anyway, I digress.. I am sure that you won’t be surprised to hear me say that any changes you make should be because YOU want to make them.
It is important that any resolutions are realistic. Some of the common resolutions such as Dry January and weight loss can lead to a pretty miserable January. It is a strange month. Christmas is over and it can often be an unpleasant month for weather with cold grey skies and short days. The weather alone can make many of us feel pretty low and if we add to this the feeling of being deprived in some way with drastic lifestyle changes, it can actually make us feel worse. I often wonder whether in fact January is the worst time we could embark on these changes. So whilst there are clear benefits to reducing alcohol intake and eating healthily, we should be realistic about what we can achieve. Be kind to yourself and celebrate even the smallest achievement. Be patient and do not beat yourself up about any perceived failures.
A positive change we can all introduce is self care. Clients have told me that I am often sitting on their shoulders reminding them “self care”, “what about you?”
Although I wouldn’t want anyone to change who they are, I would encourage everyone to change behaviours which are not helpful but this will take time. The thought of making changes can be overwhelming and we can therefore be reluctant to even start. Introducing small changes can however have a big impact.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Get outside. I am not saying you have to start running. Just get outside. Spend some time outside every day. This can be a walk at lunchtime, parking a little further away from work, getting off the bus a stop earlier or just warming your hands on a cup of tea in the garden for 5 minutes. This might not sound particularly attractive if it is a grey, wet day but if you can, just walk around the block, get some fresh air, release some endorphins. Be aware of your surroundings, really look around you, be in the moment. One of my favourite things on a grey day is to come across a seagull doing that funny little stampy dance that they do. This always makes me smile or laugh.
2. Reduce the amount of screen time. Turning off your phone an hour before bed can lead to better sleep. Limit or reduce contact with people who are toxic or make you feel bad about yourself. Don’t torment yourself by comparing to others and their slimmer of the month awards.
3. Recognise the smallest happy or positive moments. Even on the lowest days there will usually be a moment, something which makes us smile. It can be helpful to store these to reflect on when you have difficult days. Some people find it useful to write little notes of such moments and keep them in a jar to look at when feeling low. It can be the simplest thing… a kind word, a smile from a stranger, a delicious meal, a shared laugh or even a dancing seagull.
4. Use kinder words when speaking to yourself. Accept your flaws. Imperfections can be beautiful. Don’t strive for perfection.. aim for “good enough” instead, this can be so liberating. Don’t aim for “new me” but maybe try to just be the best you that you can be because you are awesome.