Author of The Leader's Guide to MindfulnessView Author Profile
This year, instead of resolutions make a proper commitment to your mental wellbeing.
We generally make resolutions at New Year, but do we really see them as making a long-term commitment to ourselves for a healthier lifestyle?
Looking after yourself means you can look after others more effectively. However, if the world around you is not going to slow down, you will need to find a way to manage. Remember, if you do not take time to look after your body and mind, they will force you to make time by falling sick.
Engaging in applied mindfulness techniques to focus your awareness and relax your body and mind can make a positive impact on your performance with the bonus that it benefits those around you too! If you can look honestly at yourself, think about your aims and recognise how far you’ve come is a great foundation to make the most effective and efficient changes.
So, start with a simple self-care audit to see the areas you can develop this year, and try to include a little mindfulness to make that journey more pleasant.
Number One: The Physical Audit - Think about your physical health:
· How many times a week do you exercise?
· Do you feel comfortable in your own body?
· Do you sleep and rest when you’re tired?
· Do you get outside each day?
Our physical wellbeing has a huge impact on our mental health – we can manage many low-level mental and emotional disorders including stress with a diet, exercise and sleep routine which suits our body.
Wrap up and get out anyway!
The fresh air always does us good – and even if you aren’t as regular with a morning run, as long as it’s safe, consider venturing out for a walk at lunchtime - or perhaps in the evening or weekends with friends and family.
Number Two: The Intellectual Audit – Think about your intellectual development:
· What is currently available for me to learn and develop for where my career will be in 3 years time (the world is changing fast, be mindful of your direction)
· How much of this is available “on demand” or “free”?
· BUT - remain aware of your finances – get into the habit of knowing (and working within) your budget – running up debt, and then getting into more to feel better about it is not the answer.
With new technologies constantly being developed, it is important to remember that you can learn. Why miss out on something which could enhance your lifestyle, just because you are afraid of trying something new?
This year: Try something new
Join a class or try a new hobby. You might find hidden talents, an outlet for that inner-diva, or perhaps some interesting people to bounce ideas with. The best part of all of course, is as an adult – remember you can choose to leave if you don’t like it!!
Get a grip on your finances
Do you know what your day-to-day spending is?
Finance is an area of self-care that has been previously overlooked. Check your statements and become aware of your personal spending habits. This way you can make any needed changes and you know when you can treat yourself without the guilt!
Number Three: The Emotional Audit - Run a check on your interpersonal Self-Care options:
· Do you have a small group of people you can call on for support?
· Do you nurture relationships with people who make you feel good about yourself?
· Are you able to set appropriate boundaries in your relationships?
Having the “right” people around us is a huge source of support. A toxic environment where blame, or judgment is at the fore can make us respond in kind,or engage in unhealthy strategies to avoid being singled out for criticism eg. Avoiding more than superficial interaction; or joining the negativity. We often “reflect back” our surroundings, so make sure that they are positive.
This year: Do a friend cull
Do a “friend cull” (or at least a “mute”) of any account you are following social media that does not make you feel positive.
Start practicing gratitude!
This simple act focuses you on the "here and now" rather than the "should", "could", or "might have been" and can be a good reminder of your own strength and that of the support around you. Furthermore, reframing a situation into something you are grateful for may be what motivates you to continue when you are running out of fight.
Here are some fantastic mindfulness tips to help boost your emotional wellness in the New Year:
1. Try this gratitude mindfulness exercise
Stretch your arms and think of one thing you are grateful to have; stretch your legs and think of one person who you are grateful to know (including yourself...or a pet!); and as you stretch your full body think of one aspect of your day you are looking forward to do...no matter how small.
2. Prime your mind with positive affirmations
Humans have a love for co-incidence and telling yourself to look for the positive may help you to identify it faster. Try repeating these three times through (perhaps while you breathe deeply):
I am grateful for all the positive experiences I have in my life
I can face whatever life brings my way
I value who I am and what I stand for
3. Brighten your laptop with a sunny screensaver or a person/pet you love
Pictures of a beautiful place or sunny climate, offer us a mini snapshot into happy times and memories. This can generate a sense of warmth and relaxation even with wind beating at the door.
Visual creatures such as ourselves are often quickly moved by imagery, and having photos of places you love (with the ensuing memories of people we love attached). This can reinforce those feelings of affection as well.
This year make a single commitment to being mindful of your physical, emotional and intellectual development; it won’t just be you who benefits.
Dr Audrey Tang is a Chartered Psychologist and the author of The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness, published by FT Publishing, priced £14.99.
A Self-Care Audit To Start The New Year