It is the start of another New Year, it is true that most of us feel we have been put through the wringer these past two years, and may be feeling exhausted with ongoing problems caused by the global pandemic. Many people start the New Year with new fitness goals, but the best resolutions just now may focus on your mental health and happiness.
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. Despite or because of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions we may have had more parties or socialised more than we did the previous year when we were heading into a lockdown. We usually spend Christmas seeing family members, or at least have more time off with family members than we normally do. Our healthy habits and exercise regimes go out of the window.
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 by mid January. Add into that, the uncertainty in the news and Covid-19 is still causing us many challenges, we might all begin the year feeling a bit low.
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 ice and frost outside of your door, never mind 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.
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.
Setting Realistic Goals
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 a fail. At Living Life to the Full, we suggest you set yourself some less dramatic- but realistic goals; bite-sized changes that use the evidence- based CBT approach.
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 normal, 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 these challenging times. Covid-19 started two years ago now, and we may be feeling tired and worn out and missing the many things that we used to enjoy due to ongoing restrictions. Many people are now back to working from home and face home schooling again and juggling work and children. Perhaps you face uncertainty with employment with many industries having to close their doors due to the challenges they face.
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 course is 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? What will you do if it goes wrong? If it goes wrong how will you get round these problems.
Chunk Your Plan
Think about little steps- tiny chunks of your plan. Don’t be too ambitious, go easy on yourself.
Use our Easy 4 Step Plan to break a problem, task short, medium or long term goal into achievable chunks:
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. You will have slowly, but effectively started to spin your cycle around in the other way, breaking free of your vicious cycle and creating a virtuous cycle instead.
Don’t Know where to start? Say to Yourself – ‘Just Do and See What Happens!’
You may find our ‘Write All Over Your Bathroom Mirror’ 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.
The Living Life to the Full Team.