Welcome to 2019! Happy New Year!
Christmas just came and went and so did our family beach holiday and I am now back at work planning out how this year might look.
We always take two weeks off after Christmas and head to Greenmount Beach in sunny Queensland paying those ridiculous peak rates because it is the one and only time of the year where we can take that kind of break without sneaking peeks at work emails while we are away.
We take two weeks because it often takes us the first week to wind down and properly fall back into out holiday “routines” and then by the end of the second week we are ready to come home as the monotony of those routines begins to creep in and – let’s be honest – the kids start driving us up the wall!
There is a smug satisfaction that comes when after the first week, the holiday-maker numbers thin a little or when you start seeing “first day back at work” posts pop up on Facebook and Instagram and you are still on holidays at the beach – breathing in the salt air and contemplating whether to go back to the beach or read a book by the pool.
But seeing everyone else talking about getting back into the year and being excited about its prospects left me feeling like I should be getting back into things, like I was somehow missing out, or that I too should be “attacking” life with the same vigour!
Imagine what seeing a stack of Happy New Year posts must feel like for those who are newly grieving the loss of their loved one. Imagine what it might feel like for those who face major health issues, or for those who have lost their jobs, those going through relationship breakdowns or those who struggle to make ends meet.
It is hard sometimes to see others living their life, while feeling not so happy in our own. So, in today’s blog post I thought I would share three tips to help you re-focus your mindset if you are feeling “not so happy” this new year.
Tip 1 – Focus on the good in your life.
Watching others – particularly their “highlight reel” on social media – can, if you are not in the proper mindset, have a truly negative impact on your outlook on your own life. Comparison begins and very quickly we can be left feeling that our life is somehow “less”.
So, my first tip is to try not to watch others but instead to re-focus on finding the good in your own life.
Practice daily gratefulness.
Each morning find a moment to mentally list off, or speak out or write down at least three things you are grateful for – it might be just being alive, or the sun shining, or the smell of toast, the friends and family you have etc.
Be careful of your language, both your inner dialogue and the words you speak out aloud. Pull yourself up on the negatives and try to re-frame them in a more positive way. Training your brain to think in a positive way is like taking vitamins for your soul – it is scientifically shown to decrease stress and improve your health!
Reflect on what you have, not on the things you don’t have. Look back at how far you have come and focus on your path ahead. Granted that path can be hard to discern at times particularly if your life has been upended by an unexpected blindside, but every journey begins with one step – then the next, and then the one after that. Focus on where you will step next, not on what others are doing around you.
Tip 2 – Surround yourself with positive thinkers
If you have ever been in a rut, or faced a difficult circumstance you will know the value and the blessing of being surrounded by those who know just what to do or say (or not say) to help get you through.
So, reach out to those closest to you, or seek out a group of like-minded souls travelling a similar journey to you, and soak up the support that comes with being part of a positive community. It might be family, or your church, it might be your neighbours or friends, it might be a tailored support group or a personal counsellor or coach.
If hanging with people is not something you would find helpful then go on the hunt for books or podcasts or other resources that will lift your spirits or focus you with positive thinking.
Tip 3 – Be gracious with yourself
When we feel uneasy or unhappy, we can fall into the trap of being hard on ourselves, right at the time we need to give ourselves some grace. Sure, only we can control how we respond to our circumstance and whether we will choose a positive or negative mindset – but this doesn’t happen overnight, nor is happiness a permanent state – we will all experience multiple times the ups and downs in life – it is just – life!
So, take one day at a time and each day as it comes. Rest when you need to rest – or when you can. Live in the moment. Try not to overthink things. Take a break from the things you find stressful. Work out your emotions. Go for a walk or a run. Try something new, find a new hobby, do the thing you have been putting off. Eat well, get good sleep. Do something indulgent for yourself, get a massage, get your hair done, get away for the weekend. Sit and watch a sunset, stand barefoot on grass and look at the stars. Float in water so all you can hear is the sound of your own breath.
We all deserve to live out the days we have been given as best we can. So, as we head into a new year, if you have been feeling not so happy, or out of sorts, I hope this post helps you re-focus to see the year ahead as one that is quite simply a privilege to live.