As we come towards the end of a very difficult year for many, globally and individually I always find it helpful to take some time to stop and reflect. That may feel hard when life is so busy, but a little space allows us to process and reframe. Animals seem to find it easier than us to allow themselves to rest and just be.
Your focus may be on distressing images of war around the world, fear about climate change or financial worries and uncertainty closer to home. We also all have our concerns, possibly health, family, money, juggling our competing demands- I could go on.
With everything that is happening it can feel overwhelming at times and we may react in different ways:
Shut down/avoid as it feels we have no impact, it all feels too much.
Anger- we may feel angry, resentful or pure rage
Exhaustion-everything feels hard, we see only the negative as we drag ourselves through life
Emotional- constant heightened emotions, feeling in fight or flight all the time.
Reflect on patterns and reactions
Being aware of these feelings and patterns is useful as it gives us a starting point for reflection.
Noticing your reactions allows you to build a relationship with yourself, that may sound strange to you. But our relationship with ourselves is key to all other relationships, how often do you stop and think about how you respond to life, to others, to situations and what that means?
You may want to start journalling to notice patterns, no judgement just notice. Listen to your inner nudges, what is your inner voice trying to tell you? For example, you are invited to a party and the inner voice is telling you that you are too tired, and you don’t want to go. But is that true?
It may be true, in which case notice and rest or it may be that you are fearful of not knowing many people, or saying the wrong thing. Tiredness here is an excuse, not the reason- what would you like to do in this situation, what might help?
Reframe what can we do instead
You are not lazy, maybe you are feeling stuck, blocked, and procrastinating. This all takes up lots of energy on regret, self loathing, anger at lack of progress. Instead of saying you are lazy, could you notice the fear? Maybe fear of failure, too much comparison to others, fear of being seen, fear of getting it wrong. Where is the fear rooted, notice, and show it some kindness.
Self compassion that we are doing our best builds self esteem and helps us see our lives from a different perspective. Acknowledge what we have learned this year and notice all that has shifted in our lives.
List all the achievements, however tiny: you message your friend to congratulate them on a new job, you water the plants and they survived or you started getting up on time. By noticing positives, we begin to reframe our lives.
How to bring rest into our lives
We all seem to have endless to do lists, for work, family and social life. When I discuss stress in my courses the top stress is lack of time, we are all stretching ourselves so thin and then not feeling fulfilled.
Rest seems like a failure in some way, I “should” be doing something else, we feel guilty if we do nothing or have a nap. But every other animal knows the importance of rest, we are no different our minds and bodies need time to reset, to calm our nervous systems and just be.
Can you allow yourself time to do nothing- daydream out of a window on the train, sit on a bench and be with nature or lay on the sofa in the afternoon? It doesn’t have to be long if it feels hard, but regular small moments of nothing will allow you to recharge and find equilibrium.
How do remember 2023 and what does 2024 hold
When you look back and reflect on 2023 what are the moments that stand out in your mind either personal, professional or worldwide? Notice where your mind focuses, is there anything else you would add? Would you like 2024 to be different for you, if so what small changes could you make now to lay the foundations?
Life is about where we choose to focus, how we respond to situations and how we learn and grow. It is not stagnant but ever changing and we need rest to allow ourselves to space to embrace that change.
For me it has been a year of change and joy, I am looking forward to what lies next.
In the new year I will share some resources to support your self care and plan 2024.