New Year - New Me
The last 2 years were difficult for most but now, with vaccines and boosters in place and much of the world re-opened, hope is in the air for a return to something like normality.
However, months of anxiety, grief & loneliness has created a spiral for many that is hard to break out of since chronic stress changes the brain. Sometimes, when we're low, we have no interest in doing the things that could actually make us feel better.
Getting the most out of 2023
It is possible to use the start of the year as a healthy catalyst for change, reflection & future planning. The key is to focus on the positives of what you have achieved or learned previously, and to be realistic about what you want and hope to achieve in the coming year.
To get the most out of 2023, we need to break destructive habits and get our energy levels back. In some cases, that will mean actually forcing yourself to do the things that will gradually make you feel better.
“I want you to get excited about who you are, what you have, and what can still be for you. I want to inspire you to see that you can go far beyond where you are right now.”
– Virginia Satir, Pioneer of family therapy
6 Ways to Change our Brains for the Better
Be kind & helpful
Keep socially connected
Learn something new
Periods of change and uncertainty are stressful and can create many uncomfortable feelings whose roots lie in the anxiety it causes. With change can come hardship and regret and a longing for an easier past.
Despite all our yearnings for change, we are often very comfortable with inertia as change, specifically changing ourselves is hard and involves taking ourselves out of our comfort zones. Embracing change means that we have to believe it is beneficial, possible, and that it lies within our power to do so.
“The curious thing is that, when I accept myself just as i am, then I can change.”
– Carl Rogers, Founder of the Humanistic Approach to Psychology
In order to manage the anxieties of change, try to follow the following:
· Be gentle with yourself and others
· Allow all emotions
· Name the emotions
· Go inwards, not outwards
· Ask for help
10 Common Mistakes of Self-Improvement Drives
Relying on willpower for long term change
Attempting big leaps instead of baby steps
Ignoring how environment shapes behaviour
Trying to stop old behaviours instead of creating new ones
Blaming failure on lack of motivation
Underestimating the power of triggers
Believing that information leads to action
Focusing on abstract goals rather than concrete behaviours
Seeking to change behaviour forever
Assuming that behavioural change is difficult
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
We must TRIGGER the desired behaviour when we are MOTIVATED and ABLE to do it. All 3 factors must be considered when planning a change.
Goal - Improve general fitness
Previous attempts - New Year's resolution and gym membership didn't work
Action - Change lofty goal to simple behavioural pattern
eg. Use the stairs, rather than the escalator or lift, when travelling between 2-3 floors
Motivation - "Get fitter"
Trigger - Escalators/lifts
Facility – Stairs
Focus on 2 or 3 (max) behaviours you wish to change and do them with gusto and excellence, rather than trying a dozen things just sufficiently. The momentum and satisfaction you will gain from pulling this off with a few amazing endeavours will far outweigh anything you could gain from doing a bunch of things halfway.
Approach a New Year from a place of balance:
Practice gratitude and build on your strengths
Set goals that are attainable and well defined
Break change down into small steps
Get outside of yourself and contribute
Take change one day at a time and understand that relapse is normal and an opportunity to learn.
To change is to persist, despite the odds and to expect (and accept) setbacks,
disappointments, and a relapse into the old ways.