Be kind to yourself

Be kind to yourself you are nice

It’s a brand new year and many of us will have made (and immediately broken) outrageous resolutions designed to make us better, smarter, or more attractive people. And when these fall through, we suffer the mental anguish of failure for not being able to commit. Sooner or later, this all piles up until January is pretty much a write-off and we’ll wish we’d gone into hibernation instead.

It’s easy to look on social media and in magazines and compare ourselves to other people who are seemingly able to do it all. The hardest thing is setting realistic goals and outlining the steps you need to take to achieve them, whilst ensuring that your mental and physical well-being isn’t compromised in the process.

One idea I’ve heard for starting 2018 off on a positive note is to make New Year’s affirmations rather than resolutions. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to quit smoking,” you could say, “I am quitting smoking”. By turning this goal into something positive and ongoing, you are acknowledging that any big change has ups and downs and you are focusing on that journey rather than the final result. This helps to remove the guilt you would have felt on days where it’s not going well and you are much more likely to succeed over all.

If affirmations aren’t your cup of tea, perhaps a general resolve to treat yourself more kindly would be the perfect beginning to your 2018. No matter how you’re feeling, most of us can afford to be gentler with ourselves and often this will lead organically to feeling more capable of achieving our other life goals! This doesn’t mean luxuriating in a 5 star spa at the weekend (though the occasional pamper session can’t hurt) but rather, getting familiar with your own needs and listening to what your body is saying when you’re pushing it to the limit.

Forgive yourself when you’ve reached the end of the day and there are still jobs on your to-do list; learn when enough is enough. Don’t be scared to ask for help when you are falling behind or struggling.

Equally, start to speak up when you’ve worked your butt off and you deserve acknowledgment. Being kind to yourself doesn’t always mean taking a step back; sometimes it means pushing forwards, recognising your achievements and feeling proud of yourself. It’s pushing negativity to one side and focusing on all that you’ve accomplished.

We all know so many people who are loyal friends, fantastic parents, highly regarded professionals, brilliant academics, powerful change-makers, or spectacular artists. And yet, they feel like failures because they don’t fulfill every role in that list. We can’t be all things to all people and we need to learn to recognise our strengths and the impact that we have in the lives of others without beating ourselves up for the areas we fall down in.

My goal every year is to do more to make myself happy. It’s not a difficult goal and I never fail at it. Some days all it takes is a cuddle on the sofa or a few minutes singing and jiggling in the shower (carefully, of course). And if a day doesn’t go my way then there’s always the next one.

What are you hoping to achieve this year? Have you got any resolutions or affirmations in the works?

My Neck Is Cold

Long Hair Donation My Neck Is Cold Brain Tumour Research Little Princess Trust Blonde

My first entry into this journal is not quite about happiness but of a growing optimism. Inevitably, in striving for greater life fulfilment, there will be times when I make decisions that don’t immediately fill me with joy. Some of the things we do for happiness, such as exercising towards a fitness goal or working long hours to ultimately land a dream job, can be unpleasantly challenging in the meantime. Other things will simply feel like the wrong decisions.

Today I completed a challenge I’d been considering for several years: I cut off most of my hair. I didn’t expect it to be so emotionally affecting – so painful. I’d grown my hair for nearly five years with the intention to one day cut it off and donate the length of it to charity so that children going through chemotherapy have better access to free, real hair wigs. In order to make the haircut even more worthwhile I asked friends and family to sponsor me on JustGiving and raise funds for Brain Tumour Research and we have so far collected nearly £400 and that number is still rising! I am so grateful for the support and enthusiasm that has come my way and for the messages of encouragement this morning as I was on my way to the hairdresser.

The end result, however, is bittersweet. It will take some time to get used to this new look and to find ways of styling it that don’t make me look like Justin Beiber, Peter Pan, or Hillary Clinton. The next few times I wash my hair I will use far too much shampoo and conditioner. I will keep putting my emergency hairband on my wrist, forgetting that it is now entirely useless. I will continue to run my hands over the back of my head and realise in panic that my ponytail is missing. I will reach to un-tuck my hair from my bag strap every time I put it over my shoulder. And, in time, I will grow to love my hair again.

I will remember the people who supported me with their kind words and donations every time I look in the mirror. I will think of the little boy or girl receiving a free wig made of my hair from the Little Princess Trust to help them cope through chemotherapy. These children who are so young and so brave and so resilient in the face of cancer. I will think of all the money raised to aid research into brain tumours and fight to save lives so that people like my Aunt have a greater chance of surviving. I will remember Auntie Ann, who was taken too soon and who also rocked short hair. I will listen to every person telling me they’re pleased I did it or they like the haircut. I will quickly begin to believe them.

Above all I will acknowledge that it’s only hair, it will mean much more to someone else, and it will grow back.

Visit my JustGiving page to read more or donate.