The festive break can be a welcome time for most of us, time to relax, time to meet up with friends and family without the usual commitments. Then as the new year begins getting back into a routine in January can be a bit of a challenge. In addition to the usual everyday commitments, often we feel the pressure to start the New Year as a brand-new improved version of ourselves. However, most of us spend December being a very different version to our ‘normal’ selves. Perhaps we have overindulged, eating, and drinking a lot more than usual. Christmas can be a time for catching up with family members and friends that we are otherwise too busy or too far away to visit, or at least having more time off with family members than we normally do. Our healthy habits and exercise regimes go out of the window.
There is the expectation to execute your New Year’s Resolutions from the 1st of January. If like many of us, you don’t mange this it can often leave you feeling like a failure. Evidence shows that most new year resolutions have been forgotten by mid-to late January. One reason for this is that people do have good intentions, however an intention is not necessarily a well-planned goal!
What gets in the way?
Winter Blues! The reality is, rather than speeding into January like a superhero, many people start the new year feeling utterly exhausted, having gained a bit of weight, and after a long month in December of celebration and spending, you may be flat broke into the bargain.
What’s more, if you live in the UK, you are in the depth of winter and likely to be battling rain, wind, ice, and frost outside of your door, never mind thinking about embarking on a run or a walk. The days are also very short, with a lack of sunlight hours making it hard for you to squeeze in that all important outdoor activity and exposure to sunlight. For some people just now, it may also be because they are isolating due to health conditions and ongoing worry about flu, winter vomiting bug and catching covid.
Many people feel fatigue and tiredness throughout the winter months more so than in spring and summer. Feeling tired can have many causes, and vitamin D deficiency may be one of them. We take a good dose of our vitamin D from sun exposure and lack that during the winter months.
Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin that has powerful effects on several systems throughout your body. Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D functions like a hormone, and every single cell in your body has a receptor for it. Your body makes it from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight. It’s also found in certain foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products, though it’s very difficult to get enough from diet alone. Therefore, it may be beneficial to speak to your G.P. or local pharmacist about taking a supplement for a few months, especially if you live in a country that has limited daylight during the winter months.
Setting Realistic Goals and making targets for change
At Living Life to the Full we have resources that will turn those good intentions into plans for hitting your target using the Plan – Do – Review method.
After painting a gloomy picture of how many of us start a new year, it is easy to see why so often New Year’s Resolutions end in failure and disappointment. If you are starting from a point at which even getting back to normality is hard, then setting yourself huge expectations is only setting yourself up for failure. At Living Life to the Full, we suggest using the Plan – Do – Review approach you set yourself some less dramatic- but realistic goals; bite-sized changes that use the evidence- based CBT approach. Find the planner and rate your mood smiley face sheet and review sheet here.
Most of us in life would like to achieve some of the following throughout the whole year, rather than have a sudden diet or exercise regime in January that quickly fails. How about you consider if any of the following life changes appeal to you:
Improve your confidence
Build Assertiveness skills
Enjoy life more
Spot and change unhelpful thinking
The truth is you don’t have to wait for New Year to make change. January should be all about getting back to routine and our anchors to the day, then beginning to set small realistic, achievable goals which all add up to make change for the long term and benefit you throughout the year.
Change is About Choices
Perhaps this January, your most important goal could be staying as happy or content as you can during challenging times- the cost-of-living crisis taking its toll on many and a few tough years of enduring the restrictions which Cover 19 brought us. Many people are still working from home part time anyway and perhaps face uncertainty with employment with many industries struggling.
Some Tips on Staying Happy
It’s worth assessing our emotional health regularly especially as we face such challenging times. It shouldn’t be a once a year, January overhaul. Consider the demands or stresses you are facing just now and how they are affecting you. Give yourself permission to take a break from your worries and concerns. Recognise that dedicating even a short time every day to your mental fitness and happiness can reap significant benefits in terms of feeling rejuvenated and more confident in the longer term. Read our blog on Tips on staying happy here and read our ebook ’10 things you can do to feel happier straight away’ and other ebooks which might help you to get started here.
Our Living Life to the Full worksheet resources are free and can be accessed online with associated downloadable worksheets and books and ebooks.
Some Strategies to Get You Started with Making Changes
Plan Do Review
Our course focusses on creating change for yourself. Use our planner sheet to help you decide what it is you are going to do- when and how you are going to do it. Check your plan- is it realistic, something you know you can do, used to do, and enjoyed doing before?
Are you aiming at just one thing? Make a separate plan for each of the things you want to start doing again. Is your plan slow enough meanwhile moving things in the right direction? To make sure you are aiming at one thing and is it realistic. Is it easy? The easier the steps, the more likely you are to do them. Are you ready to unblock it?
Perhaps you’re facing many of life’s problems and wondering how you will get round these problems.
Step 1 Break your problem into pieces
Step 2 Brainstorm ways how to do the very first piece
Step 3 Choose an idea, make a plan and do it!
Step 4 Check your plan and put it into practise as we mentioned above.
Taking small steps to achieve positive things will help make you feel better, and the more you do this- the better you feel, the better you feel then the more you will do. Find our E4SP worksheet here.
Still don’t Know where to start?
You may find our How to Start Living Life to the Full little book helpful it’s all about how to get motivated and started with changing things for the better.
So, go on- give it a try! Just take that first step and sign up to www.llttf.com where you can work through the above strategies to help you achieve ongoing change for good, not just for January but for the year ahead and learn new skills for life.
Our best wishes for 2023.
The Living Life to the Full Team.