I have come to the conclusion that starting a new year is seriously bad for your personal health and wellbeing. We are only on January 4th and already the majority of the Tweets, Facebook Posts, LinkedIn comments, online communication and articles I am seeing are about how you must focus on being better, stronger, lighter, happier, wealthier or something even more ambitious in 2017.
I’m overwhelmed by the level of expectation already and I work for myself and have no kids and a very happy partner! I completely sympathise with people that already have to juggle so many aspects of their day to day living to get by and now are faced with advertising campaigns and online communication that may not inspire and motivate but instead, for some, place them under even more pressure.
So my advice for January (and maybe even February) is “just be” – try and be kind to yourself each and every day but not with rules, targets or goals or looking critically at areas that need to radically change, instead with simple things that help you “be”.
I’m talking about reading that book that’s been on the shelf since last Christmas – just for 15 minutes a day by going into another room, sitting in your car at lunchtime or going to bed a little earlier.
Rather than gym routines and calorie counting start the year with a short walk 2 or 3 times a week and enjoy your own company – if you have manic mornings then try 10 minutes at lunchtime. Remember time is not divided into one hour or 30 minute chunks and we can be put off by not being able to “find time” – you can do something for 10 minutes if you want.
Have peppermint tea and water as your afternoon and evening drinks and use nice mugs or cups and glasses.
Whatever your relationship status is have your own date night at least once a month. Cook a nice meal, take time thinking about a film you’d like to watch and even wear your favourite outfit. You need to be special to yourself and that doesn’t always mean you need company.
Make a lasting impression on a stranger and be kind to people you meet – smile a lot and always say thank you. When you are being served by someone in a hotel, bar or restaurant use their name when you thank them. Be genuine, make conversation and give compliments.
Buy a dozen cards and each month think about the people in your life you don’t see enough of and send someone one of the cards – “thinking of you and just wanted to say hello” is a lovely message to find on your doormat in the cold winter months. Texting doesn’t count.
If you like flowers – buy them (even if you can only afford a single stem). If you like music – listen to it. Sing as much and as often as you can however bad you feel it is. If you have clothes for special occasions – wear them regularly. Make yourself feel special.
Eat something you’ve never tried before or visit somewhere you’ve never been before – new experiences or changing everyday things can make a real difference. Drive a different way to work, wear your watch on your other wrist. Make things a little more awkward so you sense the differences that are around you. Embrace how it makes you feel and feel something new.
I truly hope you find something early in 2017 that will help you “just be” – once you’ve started maybe the pressure will fade from your shoulders and the weight of expectation will ease and you’ll want to focus on more ambitious plans but if not then let the world go by at its pace and stay kind to yourself. Make 2017 your year.