We survived January!!

New Years Resolutions

So how is 2019 treating you so far? Resolutions made? Being stuck to? Or are you sensible and don’t make them. Does January fill you with dread, or is it time of looking forward and feeling hopeful? Personally I like New Year. I see it as an opportunity to think about how I want things to go for the next year, what I would like to achieve, what I would like to do less of. However, my usual January pattern is to make loads of plans, take on too much, try to make too many changes all at once before crashing down in a storm of self recrimination and feelings of failure before giving up on all of it and feeling helpless. Then the next thing comes along and I try again, and again, and again. All the while struggling with feelings of insignificance, wondering how on earth I am ever going to make the world better for our children if I can’t even make changes in my own life.

I’m learning that this kind of behaviour and thinking is part of my anxiety/depression cycle. Anxiety makes me worry about everything, I get restless and start doing things, I don’t feel better so I do more things, I keep working harder and eventually I can’t maintain it and I crash. Then the feelings get big and the negative thoughts get strong and low mood takes over.

That might seem super harsh, and it is. My logical, sensible brain knows that I am only one puny human and that I can’t solve climate change, or brexit, or war, or racism, or any of the other horrifying things that are happening out there today. I have some lovely days when I am able to not worry about these things, but then I read the news, or look in my rubbish bin, or go on facebook and instagram, or listen to people in the street, and I realise that as much as I would love to not care, I do. I care about climate change. I care about pollution. I care about mental health and wellbeing. I care about brexit and the consequences. I care about people hurting each other. I want my children to grow up in a world where there is hope, where people love each other, and look after the planet.

So what can I do about it? I want to make changes. I want to tread more lightly, consume less and teach my children that buying stuff isn’t always the answer. I want to feel more in control of our finances, freeing us up to spend more time having fun and less time worrying. I want to be more conscious about what we eat and drink as a family. I want to spend more time outside, do more exercise and spend more quality time with the people I love. I want to create more, sew, write, paint and draw. So how do I do all of that, without setting myself up to fail?

I wrote in a previous post that I was thinking about doing one big thing a month. But I don’t think that is the right thing for me. I think that the answer is one thing at a time, one moment at a time. Making decisions one by one. It’s about being mindful, being in the moment and giving all my attention to whatever I am doing at the time. (Ironically, I am writing this with Greys Anatomy on in the background – not so mindful but enjoyable none the less). Obviously that is a massive ask, when you have two young children, a husband, a dog and a cat who all need things from me, as well as having a job and a home to manage.

Finding Space

Multi tasking is what I do, all day every day. It means that I often feel like I’m not doing anything all that well. I don’t finish the washing up because I take the bins out. As I come back in I start picking up the shoes that are not on the shoe rack, then I notice some stuff on the stairs that is headed up, then I get distracted in our bathroom, trying to pull out the chin hair that I can feel but not see (don’t you hate those little buggers?!). By the time I get back to the washing up, the water is cold, and I can’t be bothered to start again. A by product of all this busyness is that by the end of the day I don’t have the energy to think. I end up unable to make choices and I do the easy thing. Sometimes that means having wine and biscuits for dinner, or buying processed packaged food because I can’t think about cooking. That means adding all the usual items from favourites into my online shopping basket because I haven’t had the brainspace to do a meal plan for the week. It can mean putting the tv in instead of supporting the kids to play.

My husband and I started the year by reflecting on all the good times we had last year, and there were lots. This gave us a starting blueprint for how we want this year to look. More fun, more adventure, more time with family and friends are cornerstones of our plans. With making better decisions around our finances, our impact on the planet and how we are living in our day to day life being the building blocks.

So what’s the answer. What does being more mindful look like? I struggle to find the time to do some of things I would like to do, so sitting meditating for hours on end is not likely, or all that enjoyable. The secret for me is to find moments in the day to take time, breathe and notice. Notice my feelings, my thoughts, how my body feels, what’s going on around me. I need to take a moment to focus on what I am doing in that moment. Like now, writing, enjoying the quiet of a child free few hours. No tv, no music, just me and my thoughts.

When I am able to do this, I find that my decision making is so much better. I am more motivated, I am calmer and I feel much more in control. And so far it’s going well.

Progress

  1. We have started a huge decluttering project and our home already feels more manageable and under control.
  2. We have started a veg box delivery alongside our milk delivery to improve the quality and sustainability of our food shops.
  3. We have started using the ‘budget to zero’ method to increase our financial awareness.
  4. We have been cooking more, allowing ourselves time to bake bread, snacks and treats. Both reducing plastic and processed food consumption, spending time as a family and getting us through dark January one chocolate brownie at a time.
  5. We have stopped drinking alcohol. Saving money, improving sleep and mood, and stopping the alcohol induced snaccidents!

So far I think as a family we have managed to make some sustainable changes, things we can build on, and so far I’m feeling quite positive about 2019. This new year already feels very different to my previous ones, and I truly believe that’s it’s all down to slowing down, thinking more, taking time to breathe, notice and make a choice.

Tell me about your new year, how is going so far? I’d love to know.

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