Come January we’ll be signing up in great numbers to look after ourselves. Gym membership will peak, smoothies will be consumed in their thousands and some may even take up crochet in place of mindfulness colouring.
Until then, chances are we’ll all be rushing headlong through December to get everything done before the big day off. If we’re not careful, most of us are going to wake up on Boxing Day having slept through Christmas because of exhaustion caused by the December workload.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Are we confusing busy-ness with productivity?
Is all this activity getting us anywhere except overworked? How can we stop ourselves from repeating this pattern of behaviour next year?
Press the re-set button
I’m all in favour of January as a time to re-assess and get back in to good habits. But a month of detox will not help our long-term health if that is all we do to improve our wellbeing in 2017.
2016 has been a rocky ride. Has everyone seen the video ‘Song of 2016’? The script is a bit colourful, so I won’t reproduce it here. A lot of shocks to the system. A lot of votes for change in favour of something better (because no-one votes for something they believe will be worse).
Having moved in to adulthood at a time of stability and prosperity, I for one, am not accustomed to this kind of operating environment. Work stress is one thing. But work stress underscored by worldwide political, economic and ecological instability calls for a far greater level of personal resilience.
A beetroot smoothie isn’t going to cover it. Not on its own, anyway.
Do one thing for yourself
So wellbeing has never been so important. If we can’t put in place new habits now, to boost our internal resilience, we are likely to start the year with furrowed brows and hunched shoulders and slide down a stress spiral as the year progresses. Get ready now.
Start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions and pick one everyday behaviour change that you think you can really stick to. It doesn’t matter what it is. It matters that you can do it, consistently. That you will feel better as a result. And that you will know, having stuck to it, that small changes are achievable. Even as normal life takes over again.
Sign up to sleeping at least 6 hours every night. If it’s good enough for Ariana Huffington, it’s good enough for us.
Do one thing for someone else
The other thing we need to do more of next year is everyday acts that benefit other people. Let’s use the increasing divisions in our society as an excuse to reach out more, and do more in our community. Not less.
Helping someone else is a sure fire way to improve your own self-esteem and build better personal resilience. So give time – once a week, one a fortnight, once a month. That would really make a difference to someone. If you have no time, give money, give a smile and a bit of conversation. Build a sense of self-worth that springs from outside of work and family. Contribute to the resilience of others by improving their support network.
It’s an obvious message at Christmas time, the reminder to help others. But it springs from a very selfish objective, because we all want to live in a better society.
In 2017, let that start with me.
For ideas about everyday activities you could try, take a look at http://bit.ly/2h3B4pa