I know I won't be the first to say it, but can you believe we've made it to 2021?! 2020 really was a funny one - for me, it was both the year that dragged on eternally, yet it also seemed to disappear in a flash, and I spent most of December feeling pretty flat which I know I was not alone in. My physical yoga practice struggled and although I was channelling my energy into maintaining my meditation practice, I was well and truly in a dip.
To be kind to others, you must start by being kind to yourself.
It is so easy to beat ourselves up for times like these when we may feel like we're being lazy, letting ourselves down and not looking after ourselves properly, but I find that sometimes it can be hard to know when you're listening to your body and taking a timeout, and when you're neglecting it by not keeping up with your self-care habits.
Speaking for myself though, I find that in time my body and mind let me know when it's been long enough and it's time to bounce back, and I usually give myself until the following Monday to be a little lazy, but come Monday it's 'get my butt in gear' time.
For me, this works, as I am giving myself permission to take time off from being perfectly positive and motivated all the time, and in doing so, when that Monday comes I feel recharged and ready to crack on whatever comes next. That doesn't necessarily always translate physically - I might still need to work a bit harder to get my body feeling energised - but mentally, I know that it's time to power on and that I'll be OK.
It's not all about January 1st for new habits, we can have fresh starts every single day.
So yeah, a new year can be a good time to start afresh, wipe the slate clean and try out a new self-care regime, but remember that you have these opportunities throughout the year too. If you're not feeling 100% right now and need a bit more time to look after yourself, that's absolutely fine. It's not all about January 1st for new habits, we can have fresh starts every single day. But do remember, if you're struggling to get to the stage that you feel ready to reboot and go get 'em, please know that it's not your fault, it doesn't make you lazy or weak, and maybe you need a helping hand this time. We will all need helping hands of one kind of another in our lives. Please don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
That being said, if you are feeling motivated and raring to go, what's caught your fancy this month? I'm planning to use this month to prioritise kindness. That may sound a little fluffy but bear with me...
Doing good deeds for others makes you feel even happier than being on the receiving end of them
'The Book of Joy' by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, unsurprisingly, is bringing me a lot of joy right now. It is inspiring and thought provoking, but it's also heart-warming, gentle and has me chuckling at the affection with which they tease each other. If you're after a new book to read or are struggling with finding a positive mindset in these challenging times, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
They don't give you any trick cheats to find joy overnight, but share their experience and wisdom and discuss how despite all the struggles they have faced in their lives, they still find joy, gratitude, kindness and compassion in the world around them.
So not only have I been contemplating how to find moments of joy and gratitude in spite of the challenges that our current circumstances bring, I've also been considering how I can share that with the people around me and buoy them up in times of sadness. So I thought I'd try doing a small act of kindness every day. It doesn't have to be anything overly significant, maybe just wishing a stranger a good morning, or giving a friend or family member a phone call just to see how they are. A number of scientific studies over the years have indicated that doing good deeds for others makes you feel even happier than being on the receiving end of them. So it sounds like a win-win to me.
That being said, to be kind to others, you must start by being kind to yourself. "You can't pour from an empty cup". So do also take care of yourself and find some time over the coming weeks to prioritise your mental and physical health, in whatever way works for you.
Do let me know whether you've got anything that you're focussing on as we embark upon the new year, and as always, please reach out if you're not in a great place at the moment.
Sending so much love,