Published on: January 15, 2020
It is that time once again, as we welcome a new year, 2020. There will be lots of focus on setting New Years resolutions. We will hear of all of the latest fitness fads, diets and people wanting to make critical changes in a bid for ‘New Year, new me’. But a few weeks into January, people may have already caved in on the tasks they set themselves, which can leave them feeling deflated before they have passed the first hurdle. Is it all a case of too much change and craving instant and unrealistic expectations? Is depriving yourself of the things you love and enjoy going to make a new, happier you this year? Or could we look at a more balanced approach?
Not all New Years resolutions are out of reach. Perhaps 2020 could be the year of embracing the same you, but looking at things from a different view. Yes, having goals can be helpful; can give us focus and motivation. But how about setting ourselves some simple, smaller, more manageable goals, whilst working on being a more happier and peaceful you, being present in this very moment, exploring the possibility of your potential, and being compassionate with yourself for just being you, even when things don’t go to plan. A zero pressure plan where we learn to appreciate ourselves for who we are, and making small and subtle changes to improve our wellness and wellbeing, with no cost attached.
The 5 ways to wellbeing are proven ways of improving our mental health, so they offer a great basis to start. Let’s use the 5 ways to wellbeing to help inform our 2020.
Connect – try to make time to connect with others (the traditional way)
Connecting allows us to establish positive relationships, create memories, gives us a sense of belonging and can improve our overall wellbeing. We can connect in many ways; going for a walk with a friend or colleague, inviting a friend or family member over for dinner, joining a friend to attend an event they enjoy, signing up to a group with like minded people, perhaps a running or art group, where you can share a hobby or just meet with others to chat and connect, turning off the T.V and putting down your phone and playing games with your family. These are just a few examples of ways we can look to become more connected. The Samaritans are currently promoting Brew Monday, encouraging people to get together over a brew to chat, share stories and beat the winter blues.
Can you think of a goal to allow you to connect with others more often?
Be Active – basically, getting your body moving
Physical activity is not only great for our fitness levels, but, our body releases feel good hormones (endorphins) when we exercise, which increases our self-esteem and can also improve our sense of wellbeing. This doesn’t mean committing to a drastic exercise routine, but looking at subtle ways we can introduce exercise to our day-to-day lives. For example; spending more time outdoors by swapping the car for foot (15 minute brisk walking counts towards your daily exercise), using apps like Couch to 5k, swimming, or spending 10 minutes completing an online workout routine a few times a week.
Could you make a goal to introduce more activity into your daily life?
Take Notice – paying attention to our own bodies and the world around us
Taking notice and connecting with our body and the world around us, often referred to as mindfulness, can improve our mental wellbeing. Being mindful is living in the present moment, the here and now. Not looking backwards or forwards, but being right here. Mindfulness means paying attention to the external world around us, noticing things such as the weather, the wind blowing through the trees, the sky; this sounds so small, but can awaken us from the ‘autopilot mode’ we often find ourselves in. Operating mindfully not only means having an awareness of our external world, it invites us to pay more attention to our internal world, as we become more in tune with our body and mind. When we do this, we can positively influence the way we view ourselves, and how we see our lives. Perhaps you could take a new route to school or work? Perhaps you could take the same route but view it in a mindful way.
‘People don’t understand how truly beautiful the world can really be, with the true eye. Because people are always looking forward, not taking time to look around. Always rushing, not visualising or seeing their surroundings’ Image and quote by a Compass REACH young person.
Taking notice of our internal world means having an awareness of our body, thoughts and feelings and tending to our needs (self-care). Simple but essential tasks, such as keeping ourselves hydrated and making healthier food choices. Taking a look at the NHS Eatwell guide is a great place to start to see what types of food and fluids should be in our diet each day, as well as making sure we get enough sleep and recharge our batteries, when needed. These are all key parts of taking notice of your own body and making the best choices for you.
What can you do to allow you to take notice? Could you try practicing mindfulness? Find out more about mindfulness and links to useful apps below. Could you start the year showing gratitude, taking time to reflect on the positives each day presents? Gratitude journaling can be a useful tool for taking notice, inviting you to make a note of 3 things that have made you feel good and that you are grateful for each day; these could be something as small as enjoying a good cup of tea, seeing a beautiful sunset or catching up with a friend.
Keep Learning – learning a new skill, or hobby, or perhaps picking up an old hobby
Challenging ourselves and learning something new can give us a sense of purpose, help to improve our confidence and self-esteem, allow us to connect with other like minded people and gain a new skill along the way. Perhaps you want to turn your hand to baking, learn a new language or play an instrument, draw or write, or look to repair an old item using online videos or resources. Could you look at your local learning providers for a short or long-term course to embark upon?
Is there something new you might like to try this year?
Give – giving to others, e.g. holding a door for a stranger, complimenting a colleague or friend, helping a neighbour carry their shopping
Giving can be a simple task and can leave the giver and recipient feeling a sense of wellbeing, and it starts with one person, you! Giving also allows us to connect. Remember that kindness shouldn’t only be for others, but should be something we show ourselves too. Contributing to initiatives such as Brew Monday can not only boost your wellbeing, it can also support others too. Or perhaps you have a few spare hours and want to volunteer for a local cause?
Can you think of ways you can give this New Year?
New Year is a good time to get us thinking about how we can feel better about ourselves. This New Year, why not just embrace being you, whilst making small but positive changes, which can benefit not only us, but those around us too? In the words of Vincent Van Gogh ‘Great things are not done by impulse, but a series of small things brought together’.
Not sure where to start? Keep your goals small, to be undertaken in short timeframes, for example, for one month, reviewing at the end of the timeframe before setting your next goal(s). Challenge yourself to make small changes to your current routine, and explore how those changes work for you. Perhaps you could keep a journal to record your progress and achievements throughout the year, as part of a gratitude journal or a separate dairy.
NHS 5 Steps to wellbeing: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/improve-mental-wellbeing/
NHS Mindfulness: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/
NHS Eatwell Guide: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-eatwell-guide/
Action for Happiness Calendar: https://www.actionforhappiness.org/happy-january