As we near the end of January, it’s a good time to reflect on how the year has started. January is traditionally a month where we look forward to a New Year, often symbolised by creating New Year’s resolutions, many of which we make knowing they might be more aspirational than realistic.
Resolutions can be a helpful way to re-focus our minds and lift our mood. However, they can also create a sense of pressure to achieve our aspirations, particularly when worries of last year are still present.
Many of our assumptions about what 2021 might bring have had to be re-assessed. Although there is still uncertainty, with nearly four weeks under our belts there is a little less than there was at the start of January. With this in mind, we can start planning, being realistic about what’s to come, but also not writing off the year as just another year of lockdowns; instead considering what the New Year means for us personally, keeping a flexible approach, and continuing to focus on small personal actions to support our overall wellbeing.
Letting go of assumptions
For some, New Year’s resolutions are going strong. Mornings are brighter, evenings are longer, we are starting to sense, despite the cold weather, that spring is emerging, and with it comes renewal. For others, resolutions haven’t taken root, which can simply mean less pressure. While New Year’s resolutions can be supportive, they are not the only way to settle into a new year.
It might sound like an old cliché, but each day is the first day of the rest of our lives. Taking our time to reflect on January can give us a chance to get used to the idea of a new year, and what that means to us personally.
We may even feel more inclined to think about improvements to our daily routine this way, without the burden of feeling we must, but instead feeling we want to, incorporating positive changes over the coming months.
A Flexible Approach
Given the challenges many of us are facing, and keeping in mind that December may not have provided the relaxation we are used to, it can be beneficial to take a flexible approach to the idea of the new year. This flexible mindset can be applied to our personal habits, our working week, and our daily routines.
It is tempting to spend too much time scrolling through news updates, checking emails late at night, and skipping breaks during the day. Consider incorporating small changes as the months go on, break up the day with a lunchtime walk, consider switching off the phone each evening, digital sunsets are important.
Try out these new habits each day, without getting too attached to having to do them every day, or feeling you should have started sooner. This flexible approach allows new habits to settle in gradually, fitting in with our routines, making it more likely we will stick to them.
Continuity is Important
Some of the habits and techniques we learned last year to support our wellbeing can continue to be supportive. It is important to keep doing what works for us.
Repeated lockdowns may be starting to feel tedious, and we might find ourselves growing tired of the same old activities we have been doing. Take a mental note of the reasons these activities have and do work for you – the fresh air and renewed energy gained from a walk, the relaxation felt after a short breathing exercise, or the connection enjoyed through a video call with loved ones.
Consider mixing up your routine. As the mornings get brighter, taking a walk before work might be a new option, or, if possible, changing the location you usually do relaxation exercises in.
These small updates can breathe fresh life into the activities we have enjoyed, so that we can keep enjoying them.
A final thought…
As January comes to a close, it’s useful to reflect on how we’ve started the year. As we look back, we can also begin to look forward to what we can make of the year ahead, keeping a flexible mindset, and bringing new life into our personal routines, helping us to continue to navigate Covid-uncertainly, and start the New Year with Wellbeing in mind.
This post featured as a Monthly Wellbeing Series article in The Midland Tribune on 27th January 2021