“New Year, new me!” Most of us share the thought that the new year holds the promise of new beginnings. The first blank page of another chapter in our very own book of life. But despite the conviction that we’re going to do things bigger, better and all the more fabulous, it’s no secret that most resolutions fizzle out once January ends, if not sooner.
So why not remove the pressure altogether? After the last few years of collective stress, perhaps the kindest thing to do, is to be kind to ourselves. Set small, bite-sized, achievable goals, alongside bigger aspirations, that we can slowly and steadily work towards. After all, New Year’s Day often sees many of us nursing a hangover, and a belly full of Christmas dinners past. So let’s go gently into this new year, and not expect miraculous changes overnight. Let’s stop punishing ourselves for all the festive food we enjoyed; that one glass (or three!) of mulled wine that we deemed ‘too many’, and look back on those as happy memories we created instead. As an alternative to the traditional resolutions, we’re going to suggest we change the narrative. We’ve put together a list of ideas that are more focused on overall wellbeing and improved mental health, that we hope might ease you into 2023, with love, kindness, and zero pressure. Another reason we’re posting this a week later!
As a society we put far too much importance on how our lives look on the outside, how we look on the outside; that we’re somehow not good enough, not lovable enough, until we fix all of our ‘broken’ pieces. How many of us are guilty of putting life on hold until some unbeknown date in the future when we’ve achieved any number of these? But this mindset is outdated and rooted in capitalism and self-loathing. Many of us start the new year feeling a need to change, but how about making a resolution to be ourselves for once? Stop thinking that life will be better when we lose X number of pounds, or when we iron out those wrinkles, or ‘fix’ something society has taught us that we need to. What’s wrong with accepting ourselves just as we are? And who gets to decide what’s right or wrong anyway? Gyms that profit from our membership? Beauty salons serving up a platter of treatments that we didn’t even know we needed? Fitness and taking care of ourselves can be integrated into the whole year, not just in January when we usually set ourselves up to fail. If we want to set a resolution, how about one to be kinder, to listen more, to make more time for those we love? We need to stop being our own critic, and start being our own cheerleader. How many of us lament the way we look, only to look back five or ten years later, and wonder, “What on earth was I thinking?” We will never be as young as we are today, so let’s give thanks to the body we’re in, and take the necessary steps to look after it as well as it’s been looking after us, which doesn’t mean cutting out all the fun either. Pleasure and enjoyment are stress-relieving too, so if you want the cake, damn well eat it! No guilt allowed this year.
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that nothing is certain. The future is, and always has been, a mystery. Sure many of us can more or less gather what our coming week will look like, and even those of us that have five or ten year plans, may think we have everything calculated right down to the very last detail. But the truth is, life often gets in the way. Unexpected circumstances can and do happen at any given moment, and often without warning. So let’s stop living in the future and start living in the here and now. Treasure the moments as they come. Notice the little things. Take the time to look around and appreciate all the beauty and kindness in the world, instead of only focusing on the negatives and worrying about what’s coming next. Anytime we feel like life is spiralling out of control, take a deep breath and know that ‘this too shall pass.’ The truth is, situations are rarely as bad as we imagine and life generally has a funny way of working itself out. So let’s learn to love life (and ourselves) in all of its messy beautiful glory, and instead of imagining all the ways it can go wrong, picture all the ways it can go right, today.
Slow down! Over the years we’ve been encouraged to go faster and faster, harder and harder, as if it was somehow fashionable to perpetually hustle. But more often than not, going at full speed can only lead to one thing - burn out. So how about working and living smarter, rather than at boiling pressure? Start by putting down your devices once in a while. These little boxes that suck the life force from us were originally designed to save us time and energy and yet we’ve seemingly slipped into a tech vortex from which we’re unable to look up. It’s time we savoured the moments in between. Because at the end of the day, those are the moments we’ll want to remember. Life is short and time is the one commodity we can never get back, no matter how hard we work, how much money we make, or how many emails we write. Self-help books, meditation classes, and relaxing spas have never been more popular, and there’s good reason for it. And by allowing ourselves time to breathe, we end up being more productive anyway. There’s a global need to disconnect. So the next time you feel like the world is spinning too fast, hit pause and step off. Isn’t it time we created a life we actually enjoy, rather than one we’re constantly trying to vacate from. It’s time we started to live while we’re still alive.
No matter what’s going on in our life, there’s almost certainly someone else who’s going through worse. Of course, situations are relative, and whilst one person may be able to tackle a challenge with relative ease, another may find it monumentally difficult. But regardless of the difficulty at hand, take stock for a moment to acknowledge all the good in life too. We need to start operating from a place of abundance rather than scarcity. List the positives. Actually put pen to paper and write them down. It’s a proven fact that feeling more grateful can positively affect our health as well as our psychological and emotional wellbeing. Any given situation can only affect us as much as we allow it to. A positive mindset gives us power over our circumstances, instead of giving the circumstances all the power. Sure we will have bad days, and we must allow ourselves to process all our emotions, but it’s when we start to dwell there that it becomes a problem. Life is a crazy rollercoaster and we’re all on it, we can’t change that. But without the dark, we’d never see the stars. So accept the bad times and treasure the great ones. Here’s to a year of many!
A clean and clear space sets the tone for our day, and can even mirror our lives. If our environment is out of control, chances are, our lives could be too. It’s not to say we all have to become minimalists – some of us, by nature, just like more – but there’s a difference in organised spaces and ones that are just, well, chaotic. It’s always a good exercise to start with one cupboard, or even a single drawer at a time. Small chunks which won’t overwhelm us. And little by little, anything that no longer serves us can either be re-gifted, sold or thrown out. This applies to people too. If there are toxic people in your life, try and remove them. And if removing them isn’t possible, find ways to limit their time and negativity around you. The rubbish bin is wide open, let’s start clearing.
We’re not always clear on what it is we want. It can often be easier to say what we don’t want than pinning down what we do. Perhaps we feel our dreams are unrealistic, or we can’t decide between one choice or another. Journaling can help. Letting our thoughts out without holding back is one of the best ways to truly understand ourselves. But don’t think too hard, or try to edit, or even be mindful of your words. Write as if no-one is ever going to read it, and they never have to. Or take this one step further and put together a vision board for the life you want to create. We’ve all heard the term ‘manifesting’. From The Secret to Deepak Chopra, much has been written about the power of positive thinking. It costs nothing and could get you everything. Do it the old fashioned way, by sticking magazine cut-outs onto card, or use an app to create a photo montage, and look at it daily. It’s said that if you can visualise your dreams as reality, if you can start to really feel what it might be like to experience it, you’re halfway there. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. But be careful what you wish for, you just might get it!
Every day we wake up is another gift, which we shouldn’t take for granted. We now have twelve new whole months ahead of us, where nothing is certain and anything is possible, so let the magic begin.
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