Happy New Year!
I'm writing this after returning from my bracing 10km morning run, before I meditate for an hour and finish my nutritious green smoothie.
No, of course not. Have we met?!
Like so many other people, I'm starting 2024 unsure of what day of the week it actually is and wondering how I'll return to my regular routine.
At this time of year, it's so easy to not feel 'enough' when the news and social media are full of demands that we set New Year's resolutions, stretching goals, inflexible diets and overwhelming exercise routines.
While (in the northern hemisphere, at least) it's cold, dark and miserable, is this really the time to be depriving ourselves of comfort and the little things we enjoy?
I'd like to suggest an alternative.
Is this self-care?
I used to really dislike the term 'self-care' as it so frequently conjured up images of unhealthy food and drink and avoiding life's responsibilities. If you’re anything like me, you possibly visualised someone taking an extravagant bubble bath while sipping wine.
But if you take a step back, you can reframe self-care as anything you're doing to intentionally improve your situation.
- Taking all those empty boxes to the recycling centre? Self-care.
- Going through that stack of paperwork you've been ignoring? Self-care.
- Finally discussing your salary with your manager? Self-care.
- Cancelling social plans so you can get an early night? Self-care.
- Turning off notifications while you focus on an important conversation? Self-care.
Rather than viewing the changes you want to make in your life as demanding goals or disruptive deprivations, you can view them as manifestations of self-care. A collection of small and diverse ways you're making your situation better.
A little bit of intentional self-care on a daily basis will do much more good than a crash diet or a week of overdoing it at the gym.
Can anything be self-care?
As long as you're being honest with yourself about your motivations and it's something you can do sustainably over the longer term, then... yes! A simple way to consider your options in each situation comes from the world of psychological flexibility.
Each moment - if we’re present in that moment - gives us the opportunity to either move towards what's important and meaningful to us (even though it might be challenging or uncomfortable) or to move away from some form of discomfort. Going for a walk could be a 'towards move' if it represents the importance you're placing on your physical health. But it could be an 'away move' if all you're trying to do is procrastinate about household chores.
As ever, context is king.
Looking for the daily opportunities to move towards what matters to us is far more accessible and sustainable than overly-demanding goals. And if your question each time is "Does this help me improve my situation?" then it keeps things nice and simple.
Considering coaching this year?
Later this month, I'm facilitating a free one-hour webinar all about coaching and its benefits. At this time of year, I know many people are considering how they can move their personal and professional development forwards - and for many, coaching is a valuable tool in that toolkit.
So, on Jan 25th at 10am, I'll be taking us through the essentials of coaching, how it works, how to get the most from it, and busting some common coaching myths along the way.
You can find out more, and reserve your place, by visiting worklifepsych.com/ConsideringCoaching
And finally, a change of address
Earlier this month, I moved to a new office. So while I'm not a big fan of 'new year, new me', this does represent something of a fresh start on the work front, and it's very welcome. (The packing and unpacking, however, was not!)
WorkLifePsych is now based closer to Canary Wharf, leaving me with a 15-minute commute. But it's also a nicer building, and much more conducive to the kind of work I do.
So if you'd like to update your address books, you can find us at:
410 Lock Studios
7 Corsican Square
London E3 3YD
That's all for this month. I wish you the very best for the remainder of 2024!