Set a theme for yourself this new year

6th Dec 2021
Campaign
Kindness

Guest blogger

2021 has been and gone and what a year it has been!

After living through another year in a pandemic, there is a real need to take a compassionate look at self-development and our mental health in 2022.

We are going to give you tips and tricks on ways to be a little kinder to yourself in the year ahead.

Take a read, reflect and set your theme…

With the New Year comes the temptation to hop on board the change train of ‘self-criticism’, 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 2022. With all this expectation you can arrive feeling overwhelmed and a little disappointed.

How can setting a theme help my wellbeing?

New Year self-improvement can be a positive thing with benefits for your mental and physical health.

This year when thinking of self-improvement, find things that work for you, irrespective of what others are doing. And remember to ask for support if you need it.

New Year's resolutions can be fuelled by unhelpful self-criticism. ‘A festival of finding ways in which we are not enough’. So, instead we propose that you try setting a theme.

Accept who you are

Resist the urge to strive for an entirely new you in 2022. Instead accept you last year, today and tomorrow.

Approach personal growth, habit change and goals with a kinder self-talk that cares for your mental wellbeing.

Evaluate the relationship you have with yourself. Ask would you speak to somebody else in the way you speak about yourself? The relationship you have with yourself is crucial to your own wellbeing and to creating healthy and happy relationships with others.

Being kind to yourself regularly is one of the best things you can do.

5 habits to improve the relationship with you in 2022

  • Invest in yourself by spending 15-30 minutes each day doing something you enjoy
  • Write down positive things about yourself when your inner critic finds faults
  • Act as if you were your own best friend and be kind and supportive when you stumble or feel you have failed
  • Do something to wind down and relax at the end of each day
  • Take a few minutes each day to appreciate the small wins you have achieved

Here’s to taking time to accept yourself in 2022.

Nourish your body

Try to resist the urge to join up to the latest fitness fad as soon as 1 Jan arrives. Instead take a deep breath, pause and think about what ways you would like to nourish your body and mind this year.

Involve others in your goals: social support is a great motivator. Share your experiences, goals and achievements. 

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

4 questions to ask yourself before you dive into a new fitness hobby

  • What do I want to get out of being active?
  • Would I prefer to be indoors or outdoors?
  • Would I like to be in a group or do an individual activity?
  • Would I like it to be integrated into daily life, such as doing housework, going on a walk or doing gardening etc. (these are physical activities too)

Physical activity is available to all, has few costs attached, and can be tailored to your needs.

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

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 your actions

Try to bring intention into your actions through mindfulness this year. By doing this you can counter the New Year urgency to sprint back into autpilot when January arrives.

Use mindfulness as a tool to help you pay attention to the present moment. You can try techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga.

It can help you to 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.

Try out our 1 minute mindfulness activity

Take a minute a day to bring intent to you – mindfulness 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

For full descriptions of the 1 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 into yourself in 2022.

Take time for yourself

This year, when you start to feel overwhelmed or stressed, 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.

9 tips from our supporters to help you care for yourself and alleviate stress

  • Watch funny movies
  • Take a walk in nature
  • Set aside 10 minutes a day to relax and collect your thoughts
  • Paint, draw or doodle
  • Unplug the phone and journal
  • Express your feelings
  • Spend time with positive people
  • Get a hot cup of something
  • Cheer up someone who is feeling down

Here’s to taking time for yourself in 2022.

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 2022

Now it is over to you – what is your theme for 2022?

Download our template for free and share your theme on social media tag @mentalhealthfoundation on Instagram and Facebook 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 2022? In what ways will you accept, nourish, bring intent and take time for you this year?

Download the 2022 theme template

Need support?

If you are feeling like ending your life, please call 999 or go to A&E and ask for the contact of the nearest crisis resolution team. These are teams of mental health care professionals who work with people in severe distress. 

If you need someone to talk to then Samaritans are available on 116 123 (UK) for free, 24/7. They are there to talk to, listen and they won't judge or tell you what to do. 
C.A.L.M.: National helpline for anyone to talk about difficulties they are feeling. Call 0800 58 58 58 (UK). They are available 5pm-midnight 365 days a year.
For support in a crisis, Text Shout to 85258. If you’re experiencing a personal crisis, are unable to cope and need support.  Shout can help with urgent issues such as: Suicidal thoughts, abuse or assault, self-harm, bullying, relationship challenges.
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