The start of a new year can be a tricky thing to navigate.
Some of us are (just about) coming out the other side of the holiday haze and are now trying to figure out how to get through a day that no longer revolves around when we are having our next mince pie. Some of us are waist deep in a ‘new year, new me’ routine, which involves getting up at 5:30, doing yoga, meditation, practising gratitude, going on a run, journaling, making yourself a vegan breakfast with veggies you have hand-picked from your newly established totally sustainable veg patch .... all by 6:30 before partners and kids start to wake up. Some of us might be feeling reflective ... glad to see the back of 2019 whilst hoping that 2020 will be a less (crazy, rubbish, busy, painful, hectic, sad, stressful - enter your own adjective here) year.
You may or may not recognise yourself above but I think for many of us the start of a new year can often raise a lot of emotions.
Personally I like the ‘new year, clean slate’ mentality but I find it incredibly difficult to make the many resolutions I make stick, or to start new healthier habits. I find the transition back to work after a break difficult, the cold weather and the dark demotivating whilst the lack of Christmas lights makes me feel a bit sad. I also find that having been very social for a number of days the need to retreat into the safety of my own home is a must but at the same time I can also feel isolated and alone. In short, January seems to be a month when I feel everything all at once and that leads me very quickly to a place of being overwhelmed and stagnant.
If any of this is starting to resonate then I think you might be in the right place! I have come to realise that this response (more or less) is quite normal and the first thing I have done this year is to let myself feel these emotions rather than beating myself up for not being good enough or because I haven’t magically morphed into the new shiny 2020 version of myself. I am also taking small steps to enable me to get back into the healthy habits I know make a difference to my mental health and my outlook on life. For me this involves moving a little bit everyday ... outside, if possible. Nothing strenuous or that involves ‘workout’ clothes, just a slow gentle walk is all I need. I am also trying to cook more. I enjoy cooking and I LOVE eating. At this point I’m not trying to create a micro-nutrient dense 16 veg-a-day green sludge casserole, but I am focusing on the foods that keep me warm, keep me full and fill me with happiness. For now, this is enough... but I know that these small steps will start to make me feel like I can tackle the larger things, by taking care of myself in these ways I gain the space to think about what I really want to get out of the next year (or two) and can start to move towards those goals.
So I hear you all asking ... what’s the point of this post? Have I got some magic answers to share with you all? A great tip I can pull out of the bag? The answer in short is ‘no’. But I did want to highlight that there’s no right or wrong way to be coming into a new year. To acknowledge that if you are struggling, you are not alone and that amongst all the pressure to be the best version of yourself, (we put it on ourselves, as well as feeling it from society and social media) focusing on a couple of small things that you know make you happy, can really make a difference. And finally to remind you that 2019 you did just fine, and 2020 you is also great. Whilst I absolutely believe in progress, aiming for success and striving for ‘better’ I also believe that acceptance and kindness are vital... and we have to start by applying these things to ourselves first!
So, how are you handling 2020? What do you hope to get from it? What are you doing to promote good mental health for yourself?
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