New Year – New Approach

Happy 2017!

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It’s been a bustling start to the year for me, work came round pretty quickly and there was no easing back into the routine. We hit the ground running with a live stream to prepare for and a huge research-and-write project to get stuck back into.

With life being pretty hectic, I hadn’t really had the chance to put much thought into my New Year’s Resolutions.

In the lead up to Hogmanay, I had thrown the usual remarks

“I’m going to get skinny”

“I’m going to stop eating so much”

“I’m going to exercise more”

But as expected, January 1st rolled round and I didn’t touch a single vegetable. Quelle surprise.

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A few days later, I had a really interesting conversation with my flatmate. She told me she doesn’t believe in New Years Resolutions because they’re damaging. At first I didn’t understand, but for some people – myself included – it makes perfect sense.

New Year New Me is a slogan cashed in on by many a brand. It’s everywhere in the run up to Christmas. People lamenting how much food they ate on Christmas Day, but it’s okay because they’ll start being healthy again in the New Year.

This is a problem for 2 reasons.

Firstly, it can breed illness. This sounds a tad dramatic but for lots of people the build up and quasi-determination and nothing-but-lettuce diets and extreme exercise regimes are unsustainable. This is an exaggeration, for sure, but you get the idea. This punishing and super strict mindset ends in disappointment and – more often than not – a negative self-image. I know I’m guilty of it. For some, this will result in illness, poor mental health and often poor physical health too.

The second problem is the now societally-accepted ‘festive overindulgence’. There are articles all over the news just now about sugar being the most readily available drug on the market, but as we draw closer to December 25th, we throw all good intentions about healthy eating out the window in favour of Chocolate Oranges, Christmas cocktails and fancy nibbles.

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This “I’ll be good in the New Year” mentality makes excessive overindulgence not only acceptable, but expected. This is almost worse than the gung-ho diet and exercise overhaul people put themselves through afterwards, because their minds and bodies have gotten used to the sugars, fats, alcohol and unnecessary treats they’ve allowed themselves. This makes falling off the bandwagon so much easier.

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These are both things I have been guilty of in the past. The very recent past. But it gave me a lot to think about. I still wanted to be healthier, but maybe I didn’t have to buy into the whole overhaul-your-life philosophy? While it fits some people and they see real, sustainable results from their new resolution efforts, it obviously hadn’t been working for me, so why not take a new approach?

My flatmate gives herself goals without a specific deadline. They are achievable processes that won’t mean she goes into the following year having ‘failed’, because instead of completely changing something, she focusses on improving or learning more. So I decided to do the same.

I have decided to focus on kindness (thanks to a wonderful colleague for giving me the idea).

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I want to be kinder to myself, especially with the nonsense my brain has been putting me through recently. I will actively give myself more time and patience to work through things, and focus on relieving stress in productive, fun ways.

To keep up the self-kindness, I’m going to carry on doing things that make me happy. One thing I am absolutely determined to do is to pour more attention and energy into my blog. I enjoy it, similar to journalling, and it’s a good way to force myself into new situations so I have things to write about. (As a side note, watch this space for some teenage-angst-born creative writing that I’ll be sharing with you next week. Trust me when I say they make me cringe.) I do struggle sometimes to think of things to write about, but I’ll be getting my planning cap on over the weekend to map out some potential convo topics. I say convo, but it’s really just a one-sided ramble…

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Crafting is another thing I want to get better at. Hobbies are a soothing, productive passtime and provide the downtime I need to maintain a healthy work/play balance. The repetitive, but brain-engaging nature of my chosen activities will be kind to my mental wellbeing (although at times, perhaps not my sanity…). So far I have knitting, calligraphy and photography to be getting one with. There is definitely huge room for improvement on all creative fronts and I’m determined to take up my passions again and fill my evenings with little rays of sunshine in crafty forms.

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Finally, I have a goal with a deadline. I want to, after 6 months, be able to say that I’ve sustained a manageable exercise routine. Kindness to my body is as important and works in tandem with my kindness to my mind. I sounded so sage and wise there…I think.

I have signed up for a 2-hour Tuesday yoga class and am hoping to drop into a dance class every Wednesday. For someone as unfit and asthmatic as me, that’s enough to get me started. Plenty of achievement and progression to be seen from those activities if all goes well, so sticking at them when the going gets tough is the first hurdle!

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So, there you have it. My first post of 2017. Kindness through happy thoughts, crafting, exercise and a hell of a lot more writing appear to be on the horizon for me. I hope you have big dreams and high expectations for the year ahead – no matter what form of resolution, goal setting or planning you subscribe to!

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Author: Amy

The Squealing Piglet - a nickname that started at birth and has reappeared throughout the course of my life (not least because of my "unique" laugh...*gigglesnort*) PhD candidate, intersectional feminist and occasional blogger.

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