Practical steps for a brighter 2021
Set up small wins every day. This will help you to be realistic about what you can achieve and being realistic is essential right now. As small wins add up to big wins, this approach will also help you to get stuff done without putting undue pressure on yourself. Each morning, consider what you’d like to achieve, taking into account how you feel that day and any other factors that might help or hinder your progress. At the end of the day, reflect on how you’ve got on. This will help you to plan for the next morning. Are you able to do what you set out to do, or do you need to adjust your expectations?
Celebrate yourself. You’ve worked so hard to come through one of the hardest years in living memory. Surviving 2020 is your biggest achievement to date. Take stock of this regularly for a boost and a reminder that you can get through the next few months too. Considering your key learnings from 2020 can also help you to navigate the year ahead. Use your successes and challenges from last year to help guide you through 2021 and remember to be flexible and experiment. What worked for you last time might need refining or adjusting as we go through the next few months.
Connect with other people, from close friends and family to your wider work network. We’re hard-wired to be social creatures, so the isolation of lockdown is challenging. In NABS’ Masterclasses, group coaching classes, more and more participants are telling me how much they’re enjoying connecting with people during the sessions. Talking to others can be fun, reassuring, enlightening and a welcome break from the isolation of lockdown. With your close friends and family, be honest about where your head’s at; it will help them to support you. You can also register for NABS coaching or therapy sessions for structured support and social contact.
Give yourself constant support and compassion
Nutrition is essential. With more and more research demonstrating the link between the gut and the brain, it’s clear that eating well can give both your mind and body the support it needs. Joanne Bolger, NABS Senior Partnerships Manager and a qualified nutritionist, advises: “Our hormones and neurotransmitters are made up of protein and fat, so it’s essential to eat high quality protein, meat, organic tofu and healthy fats such as oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds.”
She goes on to explain: “Around 70% of our immune system is in our gut microbiome, so keep it populated with good bacteria via a wide range of fruit and vegetables. Avoid quick fix detoxes and denial, which are difficult enough in this most challenging month and especially now in lockdown. Be kind to yourself and think about slow, sustainable change and lifestyle choices.”
That notion of being kind to yourself needs to be present throughout your life. You must ditch the negative self-talk that we all dole out to ourselves. This year, give yourself constant support and compassion by speaking to yourself as you would do a good friend.
Finally, breathe! Taking deep breaths is so easy yet so powerful when it comes to boosting our ability to cope with life’s challenges. Doing just ten minutes a day of breathing exercises or meditation for eight weeks enlarges the brain’s pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that you use on a daily basis. By making this part of your brain larger, you make it easier to access information, make decisions and deal with difficulties. Check out NABS’ mindfulness videos for some guided relaxation.