A theme for yourself 2018

1 January 2018

2017 has been and gone, and now the New Year and possibilities of 2018 are upon us.

With the New Year comes the temptation to hop on board the change train of ‘self-criticism and self-reflection’, head to carriage ‘unrealistic expectations,’ and ‘comparing to others’ and trundle on to destination ‘new and improved you’. Purchase a ticket for the change train and find … a more vibrant, healthy, driven, goal smashing, habit breaking, 100 billion new skills acquiring you by December 2018. With all this expectation you can arrive feeling overwhelmed and a little disappointed.

It is time to take a self-compassionate look at how we approach self development and our mental health this year.

New Year self-improvement and intention setting doesn’t have to be unrealistic and disheartening – it can be a positive thing with multiple benefits for people’s mental and physical health.

Individuals may aim to eat healthier, take up new social hobbies, spend more time with friends and family, do 30 minutes of gentle exercise a day or get outside into green space more. 

This year when thinking of self-improvement, find things that work for you, irrespective of what others are doing, and ask for support if you need it. New Year's resolutions have become a time of unhelpful self-criticism, a festival of finding ways in which we are not enough. Why not try setting a theme instead ... 

This year we hope you can

  1. Accept yourself
  2. Nourish yourself 
  3. Bring intention in to yourself
  4. Take time for yourself
  5. Find a theme for yourself in 2018

Accept yourself

It’s “… cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” Brene Brown – The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Resist the urge to strive for an entirely new you in 2018, instead accept the you last year, today and tomorrow and approach personal growth, habit change and goals with a kinder self-talk that cares for your mental wellbeing.

It’s important to evaluate the relationship you have with yourself. Ask yourself, would you speak to someone else in the way you speak about yourself?

Self-care is about looking after yourself and your mental health. The relationship you have with yourself is crucial to your own wellbeing and also to creating healthy and happy relationships with others. Being kind to yourself regularly is one of the best things you can do.

Here are a few habits you could integrate in to 2018 to bring positive change to the relationship you have with yourself
  • Invest in yourself. Spend 15-30 minutes each day doing something that uplifts you
  • When your inner critic or an outer critic finds faults, try and find truth and exception to what is being said
  • If you stumble or feel you have failed, don’t beat yourself up. Act as if you were your own best friend: be kind and supportive
  • Do something to wind down at the end of each day
  • Take a few minutes each day to appreciate yourself

Here’s to taking time to accept yourself in 2018.

For more information on relationships with yourself and others please download our ‘guide to investing in your relationships' for free.

Nourish yourself

There are many reasons why physical activity is good for your body – having a healthy heart and improving your joints and bones are just two, but did you know that physical activity is also beneficial for your mental health and wellbeing?

Sometimes it can be hard to resist the urge to reactively join the New Year trend that sees a surge of people joining fitness classes, getting new gym memberships or taking up the latest fitness fad. Instead, it can be beneficial to take a deep breath, pause and take time to work out in what ways do you want to nourish your body and mind in 2018.

People tend to have a renewed drive for positive change in the New Year and when channelled calmly and kindly this can have wonderful result for your physical and mental wellbeing.

Benefits of nourishing your body and mind with fitness
  • It can have a positive impact on your mood
  • It can relieve stress
  • It can increase self esteem
  • It can reduce anxiety and depression

The Department of Health recommends that adults should aim to be active daily and complete 2.5 hours of moderate intensity activity over a week – the equivalent of 30 minutes five times a week.

Social support can be a great motivator, and sharing your experiences, goals and achievements can help you to keep focus and enthusiasm with nourishing your body and mind. Physical activity is available to all, has few costs attached, and is an empowering approach that can support self-management.

Pause and work out what fitness is best for you and ask yourself
  • What do you want to get out of being active?
  • Would you prefer to be indoors or outdoors?
  • Would you like to be in a group or do an individual activity?
  • Would you like it to be integrated into daily life, such as doing housework, going on a walk, doing gardening (these are physical activities too)

Here’s to nourishing your body and mind in a way that works for you in 2018.

For more information on nourishing yourself with exercise please download our ‘How to look after your mental health using exercise’ guide for free.

Bring intention in to yourself

Mindfulness can be practiced in person, either through a group course or a one-to-one with a trained coach. There are online courses, books and audio, too, where you can learn through self-directed practice at home. You can start our online course for free.

After the Christmas break, or any time out of your usual routine, checking back into reality can feel quite hectic or confusing and leave you with a racing mind and launching into autopilot. By bringing intention in to your actions through mindfulness and stepping into the present helps to take care of your mental wellbeing. It can counter the New Year urgency to sprint when January arrives.

Mental wellbeing encompasses a sense of feeling good about ourselves, functioning individually and in relationships, handling life’s ups and downs, feelings of connection to community and surroundings, control and freedom over our lives, and having a sense of purpose and feeling valued

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga. It helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that, instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them.

Mindfulness has been shown to have positive effects on several aspects of whole-person health, including the mind, the brain, the body, and behaviour, as well as a person’s relationships with others.

One-minute mindfulness

Take a minute a day to bring intent to you – mindfulness can be used in everyday life and doesn’t need to take a lot of effort or time... to be precise it can take just one whole minute, 60 seconds, 60000 milliseconds.

  • Breathing – become present with the physical activity of breathing
  • Body scan – check in and bring awareness to the sensations in your body, head to toe.
  • Mindful walking - bring awareness to the sensation of walking, how your feet feel when they connect with the ground, how the muscles in your legs feel when they move
  • Mindful listening – bring awareness to tuning in to your environment, listen to the sounds around you. (to all be bullet points)

For full descriptions of the one-minute mindfulness techniques and for more information on mindfulness please download our ‘How to look after your mental health using mindfulness’ guide for free. 

Here’s to bringing intention in to yourself in 2018.

 Take time for yourself

‘Woke up this morning with my mind set on loving me’ Jamila Woods, Holy

Stress is a feeling of being under abnormal pressure, whether from an increased workload, an argument with a family member, or financial worries. Stress can affect us in a number of ways, both physically and emotionally, and in varying intensities.

Sometimes life can become a little overwhelming, and especially when you’ve got an expectation as well as the exciting opportunities that come with having a whole new year ahead of you. We recommend this year when things go from exciting to a prolonged period of stress that you hit the pause button and do something for you.

When you feel the balance isn’t quite right, pause, be your friend and ask yourself:

Is this level of stress causing me a problem? Can I identify the causes? What small changes can I make to my lifestyle? Could I … eat healthier, exercise, take time out, be mindful, get some rest and sleep, and most of all be kind to myself.

Here are some helpful tips from the supporters in our community to help with ideas for taking time to care for yourself and alleviate stress
  • Watch funny movies
  • Take a good walk in the countryside
  • Set aside 10 minutes a day to relax and collect your thoughts
  • Painting or drawing
  • Unplug the phone and get some time to yourself
  • Express your feelings and emotions
  • Spend time with positive people
  • Get a hot cup of something wonderful, a journal and a pen
  • Cheer up someone who is feeling down

Here’s to taking time for yourself in 2018

For all 101 tips! Look at our full article

For more information of managing and reducing stress please download our ‘How to manage and reduce stress’ guide for free.

Find a theme for yourself 2018

Now it is over to you – what is your theme for 2018?

Download our template for free and share your theme on social media tag @mentalhealthfoundation on Instagram and @mentalhealth on Twitter.

We have created a template to help you think of ways to choose yourself this year, instead of joining the change train.

What ways do you want to gently approach self-development and New Year’s resolutions? What would you like to guide you throughout 2018? In what ways will you accept, nourish, bring intent and take time for you this year?

Here’s to finding the theme for yourself in 2018.