Give yourself time in January

by Penny Tyndale-Hardy | 21 Dec 2021

January is a good time to reset, meet needs and take care of ourselves. Mental Health Toolkit Trainer Penny Tyndale-Hardy explores how we can come out in spring feeling healthy, rested and well.

New Year, New You – this is the pressure that we often feel as the old year comes to an end. January brings an expectation that we will all charge out and set New Year’s resolutions, declutter, get fit and grab hold of our lives by the scruff of the neck.

Stop. Breathe. It is not necessary to leap into setting over-ambitious goals. For true wellbeing we want our lives to work in balance, at a manageable pace – where we are reflective and tuned into meeting our needs. Swinging wildly from excessive indulgence to excessive activity is not sustainable for wellbeing.

Instead, let January be a time of reflection. We want to meet our needs in balance, and the Christmas period can be a bit unbalancing. What we need now is to centre ourselves and come at things with consideration and a clear head.

So how do we start? January is a really great time to reflect and check in with yourselves with an Emotional Needs Survey – what needs are being met well right now and what might you want to look at doing differently? Spending time considering this can give great insight into where the balance is at the moment and where your priorities for wellbeing are.

With the holiday expectations behind us we have more autonomy and control over what we choose to do – but many of us are returning to work which can feel a bit dismal. January is still a dark, cold month and our energy levels will be lower at this time of year. Take control by looking at ways of building in enrichment and nurturing time and getting back into healthy routines that meet your needs.

Reflect on how you are using your attention capacity. As we move away from what can be a very sociable time, we may have been giving and receiving more attention than usual. Think now about how to direct our attention in ways that balance and ground us.

The unusual activities over Christmas can often reveal imbalances in our everyday lives. Some of us have thrived on all the extra activity and are feeling its loss – or maybe Christmas has been a lonely time that has made you feel more cut off. If so, are there ways to engage in a community by picking up a new hobby or revisiting old ones? Or perhaps it’s a relief to have a bit of space and time back – in this case, notice the space you now have and find time to build in privacy and reflection into your everyday life.

Now is a really useful time to bring our thoughts back to basics and how we meet our physical needs. Overindulgence is better countered by building balance back into our habits. Taking regular movement – whatever it is – will help us relax more easily and lift our mood. Noticing and prioritising our sleep as we move back into a routine can help us feel more refreshed and able to face each day.

In a time of reflection, it is appropriate to consider the year ahead and think about things you may want to achieve. Meeting our need for achievement helps us feel stretched and challenged and definitely keeps us feeling mentally strong. But setting over-ambitious targets usually ends in disappointment and feeling a lack of achievement. If you want to set goals – and these can be very helpful – make sure they are positive, achievable and consider how they will create balance and purpose in your life.

In short, January is a time to give yourself breathing space. There is a whole year ahead of you and if you stay focused on meeting your needs in balance and giving yourself time and space to achieve your goals, you will emerge into the spring feeling energised, positive and ready for anything.

by Penny Tyndale-Hardy

Penny is a Senior Trainer at The Mental Health Toolkit.

The Mental Health Toolkit is a really intuitive way of looking at mental health. I love delivering this training as it helps us talk about mental health and wellbeing in a really useful and accessible way. It’s great to see attendees having those lightbulb moments during training and seeing how they can use our approach to help others and themselves.”

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