The year is coming to an end. This may be a time for reflection and a time to prepare for new beginnings. How was your year? Did you accomplish what you hoped to accomplish? What joy did you have? I hope you had some things you feel proud of, and happy about.
For some, finding the good may be easier than for others depending on the person and depending on the year. Some years can be amazing, while others are amazingly hard, leaving people wondering, what joy? What accomplishments? Maybe you suffered a loss, struggled with emotional pain, had health problems or simply found yourself lost in the stress of day to day living.
It’s okay to acknowledge your hardship, and then give yourself a break. It’s so easy to beat ourselves up when life is hard, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, hopelessness and worthlessness. Now is a great time to learn the practice of self compassion and allow it to give you a positive start to the new year.
What is self compassion you ask? In a nutshell, it is being nice to yourself. It is suspending the judgments of your inner critic. Doing away with your ideas of what you should or shouldn’t do, and engaging in some real self care. This is not to be confused with being selfish. It means setting appropriate boundaries with others, taking care of your physical and mental well-being and having some fun in life. This is essential to a person’s short and long term health, can improve the quality of relationships with others and can contribute to living a richer and fuller life.
Here are some ideas to help you start practicing self compassion as you reflect on the past year, and plan for the new year.
1. Practice gratitude, even if you think you have nothing to be grateful for. Make a list of at least ten things you are truly thankful for over the past year. Each day as you start or end your day, think of one thing or person you appreciate and notice the sensation you feel in your body connected with that thankfulness. If it’s something big, that’s wonderful, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be as small as witnessing the beauty of a flower you saw when you walked outside this morning.
2. Be mindful of what you are doing in the moment. This will help you to enjoy what you are doing now, and reduce worry about the past and future. For example, when you are eating, notice your food. Allow yourself to savor your meal and avoid mindless eating on the go. Another example, is when you go for walks outside, have a few moments of silence to notice the sounds and environment around you. This can be very peaceful, calming and will allow you to connect with the world in a positive way.
3. Recognize what you did right over the past year. Also recognize anyone who gave you support when you needed it, and anyone you were kind to. As negativity has such a strong pull in our hearts and minds, the good stuff can drift aside without us even noticing it was ever there. Noticing when something has gone right can help us to hang on to it, and notice more positive things in our lives which ultimately reduces the effects of the negative.
4. If there are things you want to change, make small, tangible and measurable goals you can stick to next year. Plan little, healthy rewards for yourself as you reach those milestones.
5. Make time to enjoy life. So often we get caught up in getting things done, helping others, working hard, etc. we forget to have fun. Fun shouldn’t be a luxury, but a necessity. We humans are made to enjoy life, and we deserve to do so. This doesn’t mean shirk your responsibilities, binge eat or drink, or go off on a relentless shopping spree you can’t afford. It means, do something harmless that brings you pleasure each day, and notice it. Again, this can be big and/or small. Take a hot bath, talk to friends, read a book, color. You know what you like. Do it.
6. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. Allow others to be kind to you. Kindness feels good, spread good and improves relationships.
Part of taking care of yourself is having a good support system, which includes people who can help you reach your goals and who encourage you to do what is good for you. If you would like more of this type of support in your life, call me, and we can talk about it. I would love to help you to connect with the happiness you deserve.