A New Year – A new start
Although this is not the start to the year we hoped for, we can make the most of our time and look for opportunities to move forwards with our goals. 2020 was a very challenging year for people worldwide. We all had to adjust our expectations to a new reality. We can start the year with the awareness that we got through a difficult year, and look back and reflect on what we learned.
We can manage uncertainty by focusing on things that we can do daily. It it is also important that we dedicate time to maintaining contact with others, even if online get-togethers are not as satisfying as face-to-face meetings. It is fortunate that we have the technology to maintain our relationships with others.
Strategies to be productive and keep well:
Focus on values: Keeping in touch with our values – what is important and meaningful to us. They serve as a guide when making decisions so they align with our purpose and sustain us through challenges.
Develop problem-solving skills: When dealing with uncertainty, we may find it more challenging to make decisions. Worry thoughts can distract us from engaging in activities or from taking the initiative to make positive changes.
Taking time to understand our reactions and identifying what is most important to us can help to maintain our balance. Reflecting on the situation gives us time to consider our options: What other ways are there of looking at the problem? We can identify gaps in our knowledge and seek information to clarify the issues so that we are in a better position to select an option.
Set realistic goals: Setting some doable goals in the short-term can help build the foundation for our longer-term goals. We can start by identifying a specific task, and then break it down into small steps. Noticing we have completed a small task will boost motivation to continue with the next one.
Be proactive: Paying attention to our behaviour and notice when it feels it would be easier to avoid doing things that we need to do. Often, we delay starting because we do not want to get things wrong. Accepting that setbacks happen, and learning from our mistakes, we can improve our work and boost our confidence to go onto the next step.
Prioritise healthy habits: It is essential for our health that we maintain our energy level to manage the demands of work and study, so eating well, doing some exercise, and connect with others are good to keep our body and mind healthy.
Practise self-compassion: We are dealing with uncertainty and adjusting to changes, so we need to use more personal resources. It is essential to take a moment to breathe and give ourselves a bit of space to acknowledge our emotions. Going for a walk each day is good for our body and our mind.
We can create spaces to reflect on our experiences to learn from them. It is not pleasant when we make mistakes, but self-criticism only makes things worse. Self-compassion means acknowledging our vulnerability as human beings – that we can make mistakes – even with the best of intentions.
When noticing critical thoughts we can manage them by being understanding as we would be of our best friend. We can guide ourselves gently, understanding our feelings and then identify one step we can take to move forward.
Notice the good: when dealing with ongoing challenges, it is helpful to focus on what is working, what gives us a moment of relief or something that makes us smile.