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Five Things to Consider as we Enter a New Year

Although New Year’s resolutions are a very individual choice, perhaps one way to welcome in the new year is to consider adopting some habits that will benefit our emotional wellness. Let us consider these important tips for creating balance and remaining grounded.

1. The importance of the pause.

We live in a fast paced, success driven world. We often move from one task to another, we have way too much on our plates, and we feel obligated to perform at a level that doesn’t leave much room for rest or a re-setting of our nervous system.

We also have learned over time to be reactive versus slowing things down in order to respond. Doing so in such a way as to be measured and thoughtful. And our ways of communicating have taught us that impulsivity is okay and we can expect immediacy at any given time.

When we slow things down, purposefully and consciously, we are giving importance to the pause. We are taking a deep breath; we are asking ourselves, “How do I want to handle this?,” we are taking time to complete each task with timely purpose. We bookend our day with self-care, we reset ourselves at lunch with a walk, we spend time in nature, we plan times of rest, we learn to say no. 2023 awaits us. Let us make this a year when we place importance in the pause. We will be happy we did.

2. Letting go of "good" vs. "bad" language

Humans have a natural tendency to be too hard on ourselves; as a result, we will often categorize things as good or bad. By placing choices in categories, we automatically invite judgement to do its damage. Being able to accept when we make mistakes and move towards repair without automatic good or bad language, can allow us to move towards growth instead of reinforcing critical self talk. Here are some examples with possible alternatives:

“That was a bad food choice.” “Eating that didn’t serve me well.”

“Sending that text was stupid.” “I can see now that sending that text was a mistake and I will need to apologize.”

“I can’t believe I did that.” “Why am I feeling this way?”

“I give up. I will never be able to do this.” “What am I missing?”

The language we use is important. The word ‘should’ falls into this category, as does anything that is said that has a rigid or inflexible quality. We are much better served to catch ourselves when it comes to self-blame; not in order to excuse our behaviours or choices, but rather to understand them and to choose an alternative that is more reflective and compassionate. As David James Lees says, “Be mindful of your self-talk. It’s a conversation with the universe.”

3. Being conscious of our energy

Part of living a balanced life is being able to pay attention not only to our physical energy level, but to our emotional energy as well. When we worry and ruminate, when we over-extend ourselves, when we don’t get enough sleep, or we put ourselves in a position of saying yes without thought, we are depleting ourselves. Some things to consider when being conscious of our energy:

  • Respect your need to rest (importance of the pause)

  • Learn to say maybe – this allows you to decide if you have the time, energy and support to say yes.

  • Ask yourself, “Do I want to give this much of my energy to this worry?”

  • Be aware of your vulnerabilities when you are tired – get some fresh air, focus on getting a good night’s sleep.

  • Plan for some stillness in your day.

  • Pay attention to the overwhelm and consciously slow things down.

  • Take a deep breath.

Being conscious of our energy allows us to create a greater sense of groundedness; allowing ourselves to better manage our days. A valuable thing to consider as we continue into 2023.

4. Decipher what is yours to carry

One thing that tends to be something worth considering when it comes to our emotional health is the ability to decipher what is ours to carry. We are a relationship species and our attachment system, as a result, creates a need in us to be accepted. Our natural tendency to want to fix something, the lessons we learn growing up about being responsible for other people’s feelings or problems, people-pleasing behaviours – they all have the ability to contribute to the feeling that we are somehow responsible. And as a result, we end up carrying a heavy emotional load.

There is a saying, “not my circus, not my monkeys.” Well, sometimes it is your circus and you may have to slow down whatever is going on to ask yourself how you may have contributed to the situation that you are faced with. Many times, however, it will not be your circus – but you get pulled into the drama or the conflict. As a natural consequence, you wrestle with the unfairness of something, you struggle to understand why this is happening to you.

It is at this point that being aware of what is in your control and what isn’t, is going to help you determine what is yours to carry. When we can separate ourselves from taking something personally, we give ourselves the gift of understanding that acceptance shouldn’t come at a personal cost. “What is mine to carry?” is something important to consider as we come into the new year.

5. Being accountable to ourselves

We often hear that healing begins with us; that true growth comes internally, that structural change comes from within. And yet we have a natural tendency to seek change externally; we look to be validated by others, we turn to external things to soothe ourselves, we convince ourselves that in order to love ourselves, another must love us first.

Being accountable to ourselves; both our physical and emotional health, is foundational to being grounded. When we can begin with ourselves, we temper down jealousy and envy, we understand that change begins with us, we accept that we all have some growing to do.

If we have an unhealthy habit, it is our job to create a healthier one. If we have learned a poor way of communicating, it is our job to improve it. If we have never learned to self-soothe, it is our job to take care of ourselves. If we make a mistake, it is our job to repair it. If others treat us poorly, it is our job to not tolerate it.

Being accountable to ourselves is neither selfish or ego-driven. It allows us to love more deeply, it creates healthier relationships, it builds resilience. Being accountable to ourselves allows us to pause when we need to, temper our critical self-talk, be conscious of our energy, and to only carry what is ours.

Let us welcome 2023 with the notion that the starting point is us. It is the energy within, the light that pulls to shine.

This post was written and published to Kristine's Blog: Anchor Your Day. Subscribe here to receive short, daily counsel on a variety of topics and interesting facts about mental health.

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