Taking A Gentle Approach To The New Year


How are you feeling as we begin a brand new year? January is the time when there’s lots of talk about setting resolutions and making a new start, and an expectation of forging ahead with plans. Maybe you’re raring to go with clear goals and an action plan or maybe you might be feeling a bit like I do – a little weary and leaning more towards daunted than inspired.

So I’m taking a gentler approach this year. One where I’m listening to how my body and mind feel and paying attention to what they need. Instead of pushing myself with a list of demands, I’m nurturing myself instead. By moving forward at a gentle pace and being mindful of my well-being, I know I’m sowing the seeds for creativity, energy, and fulfillment down the line. After all, there are 12 months in the year and, as the saying goes – “it’s not how you start but how you finish…”.

However you’re feeling, I hope my thoughts on beginning the year with a focus on well-being and a gentle mindset will help you to live your best life now and in the months to come.

Rest, restore – and dream

I must admit that January is usually my least favourite month of the year – the long, dark days do nothing for my mood and the busyness of December leaves me lacking in energy. This year, more than ever, I feel I’m starting off on the back foot and running just to catch up.

So I’ve shifted my mindset. I’m viewing January as simply an introduction to the year, to set the scene for the adventure that is to come. Instead of rushing headlong into a flurry of plans and resolutions, I’m going slow. I’m using the month to dream, to reflect on what’s important to me and on what I want to bring into my life in the coming year.

I’m finding it helpful to remember that most things in nature lie dormant at this time of the year. But it would be a mistake to believe that nothing is happening – beneath the surface, change is beginning, seeds are germinating. And it’s the same with me – by taking time to rest and restore, ideas and inspiration are flowing into my mind again. Creative plans are taking shape and energy and enthusiasm are returning, ready to burst into life with the Spring.

Try this…

  • Be gentle with yourself, take time to replenish your body and mind with things that nourish you.
  • Build things into your everyday that bring you joy – whatever that may be to you. Make that time non-negotiable by making it an appointment in your diary and telling those around you that you you’re not to be disturbed.
  • Give yourself permission to do what you love – it will help set you up for success both now and in the longer term.

My word of the year is…

This year I’m forgetting all about ambitious resolutions which I find often become just a list of things that I fail to accomplish – doing nothing for my sense of self-esteem or motivation. Instead I’m setting an overall intention – to provide an anchor for my year and help me stay focused on what’s most important.

Writer Susannah Conway suggests adopting a single word that represents what you wish to focus your energy on in the coming year. A word that supports your core values and encourages you to approach things in a way that you otherwise might not have. It becomes an influence rather than a rigid list of ‘musts’, ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’; it helps us to view things in a different way and we have better chance of sticking with it. All of which can impact positively on how we feel.

So this year I’ve chosen ‘excited’ as my word of the year. I’ll be mentally checking in with that word in different situations and when making decisions. I’m trusting that it will re-frame my mindset, help me deal more positively with situations I find daunting, and guide me forward in ways I might not otherwise have taken.

How to find your word of the year…

  • Reflect on the last 12 months – how are you feeling as you look ahead?
  • Check in with how you feel about the next 12 months – hopes, plans and fears.
  • Ask yourself what do you need more of? What do you need less of?
  • Write down any words that come to mind.
  • Ask yourself how you would feel if you have more courage, confidence, freedom for example.
  • Choose a word that’s meaningful to you.
  • Trust that you can’t do this exercise wrong – you can always choose another word!

Slow But Steady

As you will have gathered, I’m resisting my usual tendency to change everything everything all at once, beginning with a burst of great energy and enthusiasm only to falter a few weeks later. Instead I’m recognising that change can take time and I’m approaching things in a more manageable and achievable way that fits with my ethos of being kind to myself.

I’m finding the following process helpful and it can be used in any area of life where you’d like to make change happen.

Three steps to making long lasting change:

  • Ask yourself what one change would make the greatest difference to you at this moment. What resonates the most with you.
  • Break that goal down into steps, or micro-changes. For example, one of my well-being goals is to sleep better so I’ve broken this down into small steps that include, for example, improving my bedroom environment, setting a time for going to sleep, establishing a bedtime routine. I can focus on and achieve these one at a time and tweak them as I go. Small steps feel less overwhelming and my chance of success is greater.
  • Speak to yourself kindly. It’s easy to be hard on ourselves when we slip but we believe the negative language we use which does nothing for our motivation or self-esteem. Speak kindly and encouragingly to yourself, just as you would to your best friend, and remember to praise yourself for your wins, however small they may be.

“The beauty of nature insists on taking its time. Everything is prepared. Nothing is rushed. The rhythm of emergence is a gradual slow beat always inching its way forward.”

John O’Donohue

Hypnotherapy can be a perfect companion on your journey to feeling restored and a powerful tool to help you make positive, long lasting changes. Please do get in touch for a chat about how I can help.

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