Are you starting 2022 with a mixture of hope and fear? Surely it’s got to be better than 2021, we’re thinking – but what if it’s not? Whatever we face, we’ll help ourselves and others if we take good care of our wellbeing.
Livability places a high value on wellbeing, in the way we deliver care for children, young people and adults with disabilities, and for our staff. Resident wellbeing expert Emma Browning works with the organisation to give research-based help and advice on boosting wellbeing. Here are some of Emma’s top tips to help you start the New Year hopefully and healthily.
Returning to work, January and pandemic-related stress can easily add up to feeling less than on top of the demands of everyday life. How can you clear the fog?
- Trace it back: is there a big project or family challenge that is taking up much emotional and mental energy? As well, we’re all dealing with two years of living with a pandemic. Realising the demands we face can help us ‘go easier’ on ourselves.
Get more sleep: aim for 7-9 hours per night. Regular sleep loss leads to irritability, daytime sleepiness and poor concentration.
- Keep time for enjoyment: if you don’t make time for self-care and relaxation, you’ll just keep adding to your stress. Try setting aside 30 mins-1 hour each day for a calming, enjoyable activity, such as walking, yoga, reading or spending time with loved ones.
- Take breaks: when time is tight, taking a break can seem counter-intuitive but even 15 mins away from your desk or task can help you to reset and improve productivity.
- Check your diet and exercise: if these have slipped, don’t try to go into fifth gear from a standing start. A regular 15-mins brisk walk can help cognition, as can getting more fish, poultry, seeds and nuts, whole grains and fresh produce into your diet.
It’s unlikely we can always look on the bright side of life, but we can cultivate a more positive attitude.
- Take responsibility: if something has gone wrong, take an honest look to see if you contributed to this at all. ‘Own’ any mistakes you made, learn from them and move forward optimistically, knowing this can improve.
- Reflect: regularly take a few minutes to bring to mind everything you can be thankful for, big and small. Take joy in the simple things.
- Make plans: optimism is all about looking to the future. What are your goals? Make realistic plans to achieve those goals, which will in turn bring direction and meaning.
- Take pride: look back at your life and everything you have accomplished. Don’t automatically put this down to luck or others’ efforts. Seeing what you have achieved will give you hope you can go on and achieve more in the coming months.
- Get help: if you’ve lost perspective and are seeing life in an entirely negative light, seek out a trusted friend who will let you vent and help you to reset.
And finally, control
In uncertain times, letting go of the need for control could make us much happier.
- Ask why? Understanding why you want control can help let go. Fear – of change, of loss, of looking stupid – is often at the root. Letting go isn’t the same as losing control, it’s acknowledging and accepting that many things are beyond our control.
- Leave room for surprises: over-planning is a form of trying to control everything. Have a plan, but don’t map everything out. Avoid spending more time planning life than living it and leave room for fun and spontaneity.
- Let go of your expectations: expectations are nothing but a strong belief. The more expectations you have, the more control you require to keep your expectations met. So have expectations but be prepared to feel ok if your expectations are not met.
- Be willing to change: people who want to control everything can be very willing to change others and their circumstances, but not so willing to change themselves. Changing yourself doesn’t guarantee that other people do what you want, but at least you’ve done your part. In some cases, control isn’t what you need most, change is.
Want to boost your wellbeing as we start 2022? Livability’s free Wellbeing Journal can help – download it here