How are we here again already? The time of the year when nobody knows what day it is. We’re hanging in that limbo between Christmas Day and January 1st. And everywhere we turn there is the “New Year, New You” message being thrust in our faces . Whether it’s a diet or detox you need to try, a slimming club to join, an exercise class you should sign up to, a new skincare regime blah blah blah. It’s not an original concept. We are bombarded with it every single December.
And whilst I’m not saying that any of the products/experiences being pedalled aren’t wonderful; I am a little uneasy with the suggestion that “Old You” is not enough. “Old You” needs to better her/himself to have a more successful or happy 2019. Perhaps, when this isn’t your first rodeo, you don’t feel too affected by it. Perhaps you roll your eyes, sit back and feel content that you’ll be the exact same person you’ve always been; and you’re happy with that. But if, however, you are someone who is feeling vulnerable.
If you are a young person, a person suffering from anxiety or depression, a person who maybe isn’t feeling that great about yourself. The “New Year, New You” message can feel so very personal. It’s talking to you. It’s targeting you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve survived the most difficult year of your life in 2018. It doesn’t matter if you achieved wonderful things. You still need to be better. You still need to bring more to the table.
I’m not immune, I’m not pretending to be. I’ve felt and succumbed to that pressure year after year and do you know what…… It’s bollocks. Ok, maybe that’s a little harsh. If you’re opting to improve something in your life in 2019 that is going to make you grow as a person then hell yes! I’m all for that. Learn to meditate, read more, do a course, learn something new. But do it because you want to. When it comes to diet culture, health, food, physical appearance – steer clear! Don’t fall in to the trap of needing to completely reinvent yourself. You don’t need an upgrade. You don’t need to be a shinier version of 2018 you.
The advertising giants aren’t suggesting things to you because they care about YOU. They care about £££££. So instead of encouraging this “strive for a quick fix”, for “new found excellence”, for a “New You” in the space of a couple of months. How about we focus on a new sense of self love, self worth, self healing – for the you that you are right now. The you that is enough. The you that has always been enough. How about we change it up to “New year, new you loving you.”
SO WHAT STEPS CAN YOU TAKE TO KICKSTART YOUR “NEW YEAR, NEW YOU LOVING YOU” IN THE BEST WAY?
Clean up your social media
I don’t believe we need to completely cleanse social media from our lives to be happy. Small steps. Unfollow or mute the people who don’t make you feel good about yourself. Perhaps that’s the body obsessed folks who are constantly talking diets or exercise regimes. Perhaps it’s those who insist on only posting picture perfect images from the highlight reel of their lives. Maybe it’s just someone who always seems to be focusing on the negatives. You don’t need that. Any of that. Fill your feeds and timeline with people and things that inspire you.
Find your natural high – and do more of that
Do you have that one thing that makes you feel alive? The thing that sets your soul on fire. A hobby, a skill, a pastime…. whatever it may be, this is where we need to banking our hours. For me it’s a few things. Photography primarily. It’s not just my job, it’s my passion and doing it makes me feel all tingly to the tips of my toes.
In 2018 I also re-discovered my love of the written word and therefore I’m planning to set aside more time to just sit and read in 2019. In fact I’m attempting to read 52 books in total, yep… a book a week. It’s not really about the number of course. It’s actually just about prioritising self care and making more time for me. Fancy taking on your own reading challenge? Hop over to The Master List of Reading Challenges where there are an abundance. All I can say is good luck choosing.
For my physical and mental wellbeing, I’m getting back in to yoga and learning more about mediation. All good things, for body and soul. But no pressure, no time lines, no “must be this by then.” Just re-devoting time to something I enjoy doing and something that will help me to grow.
Love the body you’re in – right now
Not half a stone lighter, not cleansed, not detoxed – but right now. Your body allows you to do so many incredible things. It’s the only home you’ll ever truly have. Every scar, every freckle, every dimple – it makes you you. You were born a blank canvas and now your body tells your own unique story. That’s so beautiful when you think about it. You deserve to care for you now. And yes, health is important. I’m not saying don’t try to be healthier. But realise that making healthy decisions for our bodies is actually kindness. We can do what’s best for our general well-being through being kind and gentle with ourselves.
I’ve previously written about the “Body Neutrality” movement and in 2019 that’s where I will be attempting to root my body image focus. This body, the one I have inflicted so much upon, is carrying me in to another new year. It deserves to be celebrated for that alone. I owe it this change, this chance, to just appreciate it for all it does. I encourage you all to do the same, to take this idea that “how a body looks is the most important thing” and to tackle it head on. Nothing but good can come from this.
Have we been conditioned to be serial complainers? Whether it’s that we hate our jobs. We don’t make enough money, aren’t pretty/handsome enough, don’t have the perfect body. Our family drive us nuts. We can’t get a decent match on Tinder? It’s the sad but honest truth that we often tend to focus on the negatives in our lives. And whilst wallowing in our woes it’s so very easy to forget just how many wonderful things we have. It’s a proven fact that practicing gratitude has many health benefits; both psychologically and physically. Grateful people sleep better, grateful people have reduced levels of toxic emotions, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains. You can find out more about the science behind these benefits in this Psychology Today UK article.
So how do we start? There are no rules. Perhaps you just have a gratitude journal where you write down something you’re thankful for each day. Maybe it’s that you practice mindfulness. You could choose one day of the week to not complain about anything. You could focus on expressing thanks for the little things that people do, whether that’s family, friends or the barista who serves you your coffee. Quite simply, you could smile more. There are many ways to start filtering more gratitude in to your life and it can really only have a positive impact.
So to summarise. New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to be these huge, restrictive, unrealistic goals. You don’t need to change the very essence of who you are to have a better 2019. Step away from the “New Year, New You” propaganda and focus only on goal setting. On welcoming things in to your life that will simply bring joy, not envy, not self hatred, not punishments, not comparisons or the sense of failure. Spend time with the people who matter. Forgive those who have hurt you. Go easy on yourself and carve out the time to pursue your passions. And be the example. Show others that there’s another option. That there can be a “new year, new you loving you.”
Wishing you all a most wonderful 2019 of being the incredible, imperfect you.
Beth Anne xoxo