It’s that time of year again. We’re winding down, looking forward to some much-needed rest – and possibly reflecting on what worked well versus what didn’t quite go as planned this year. If your brain is not quite in that space, we know that as of the 1st January 2021 you’ll be doing just that. Mentally preparing yourself for the year ahead, and drafting a list of new year resolutions to plan towards.
I want to encourage you to take some time during December to ponder a little more deeply on the year that has passed. To drop the loose weight, exercise more, drink less wish list that we generally carry with us into the new year. Instead consider what changes you really need to make in your life, the kind of changes that will make 2021 a year where your mental and physical health thrives.
For me, I think this means time for a change in how I spend my time, with whom I spend my time and how I respond to the behaviour of others.
How do you spend your time?
We have 24 hours in a day. Technically speaking that’s 8 hours for sleeping, 8 for work and 8 for ourselves. Make some notes on how you actually spend those 24 hours – how much is even allocated to sleep versus work? And how do you spend the 8 hours that are supposed to be for you?
We’re quick to say we don’t have time to look after ourselves properly –be that some exercise, reading a book or visiting our parents. In reality, we’re all a bit guilty of misappropriating our time. Work tends to creep outside of its allotted 8 hours, taking over weekends and evenings.
If we start to put boundaries in place – with ourselves – we’ll magically find more time in our calendars for the things that bring us joy, help our general sense of wellbeing and feed our soul. We may even see our traditional new year resolutions fall by the wayside.
With whom do you spend your time?
The people we surround ourselves with influence how we think, feel and behave. I’m not just referring to face-to-face interaction (let’s be fair, there has been very little of that this year), but also social media, the news and the television programmes we watch.
If we are always surrounded by negativity, aggression, unhappiness – we’re going to feel the weight of these emotions ourselves. Whilst it is impossible to distance ourselves from colleagues we work closely with, or our immediate family – we can be more mindful of the impact that their mood, conversations and actions have on our self.
So, if your current crowd is more on the pessimistic side of things, seek out some new company who has a bit more bounce in their step and can see the sunshine from the rain. This goes for your social media accounts as well, unfollow the naysayers, or at least hide them from your daily news feed.
How do you respond to the behaviour of others?
I know that people don’t make me angry; I make myself mad. However, with the challenges and changes we’ve faced during 2020, I’ve found myself getting riled up and quite easily frustrated. We really do give others too much power over ourselves.
This is a gentle reminder to pick your battles and to let some things go. More often than not, especially in the world of remote working and virtual meetings (where we have limited visual cues to support our communications), we’re working ourselves up and getting angry. Meanwhile, the other party is none the wiser.
Take back the power, own your emotions and breathe more. By the same token, be more mindful of what you say, when you say it and how you say it – because you could be unwittingly winding someone else up.
I believe it is time for a change, for the right kinds of change. Honestly, I think that 2020 has exposed, for many of us, the weaknesses and shortcomings in our lives – and allowed us the space to change it for the better. The covid19 pandemic will still be here when we open our eyes on the 1st January – see it as an opportunity to make some positive changes in your life, instead of the frivolous new year resolutions we tend to turn to.