07:00 Thursday 17 January 2013

New year, new you?

Written byLiz Fleming

Not really. We're still us. The previous years still mean a lot and will always be an attatchment of our every day lives. We still have the memories, remember the lessons learned, mistakes made, we take from that, learn, evolve and know what we want to be, where we want to go, and who we want to become.

Drawing on what we know, we can take a step towards our goals, hopes and dreams and decide the new year is the best time to do so, but then, you look for progress, don't see any and think you've failed, where that is simply not true.

People don't change over night, things we do are habit forming. They say it takes 4 weeks to develop a habit, so you can't even say you've failed until you've been at it for a month! If you feel you've failed, cut yourself some slack. You can always try again tomorrow, or better still, right now!

A good idea is to break down your 'resolutions' into smaller pieces that make a bigger picture. Write them down and stick 'em to the fridge. It'll help make them easier to keep and achieve. In time, you'll see you've come further than you thought because although you may not have achieved the goal yet, you have begun your journey in getting there! And that's a good thing. Only you can do it, but you have to keep going.

Me? Well, I've decided to try and listen to my body more and look after myself, take everything in my stride, pace myself and take my time. For example, when I'm cleaning (when I can), I wear myself into the ground trying to get as much done as possible. I have a long to do list, but I've now broken things down to make them more managable. For example, instead of 'clean the bathroom', I have 'clean the sink', 'clean the bath' and 'clean the toilet' seperately so I can pace myself better. This goes for pretty much everything that I want to do, breaking bigger things down into much smaller, managable tasks.

Between each thing on the list I will sit, rest and have a break. By doing this, I get a lot more out of my day by trying NOT to do so much in one go, resulting in me being a whole lot more productive! You don't quite have to simplify it and break it down that much, but with my health, I have to do this or else it won't get it done and I'll make myself feel worse by attempting too much at once.

I've mentioned previously about my agoraphobia coming back to rear its ugly head. So to help me fight this, I've been trying to take a gentle saunter at least once a week, to my corner shop on a Thursday and getting some magazines or even popping to the post box. I haven't read all the magazines yet but the growing pile sat on my table is proof that I went out, despite my panic, and am starting to make progress. They'll be joining me in the bath tub for a well earned soak!

I generally feel a lot more positive and hopeful about making progress with my anxiety and I'm getting to a point where it doesn't impact my life significantly any more. It's going to be a long journey and anxiety never goes away completely. All you can do is learn, adapt and progress, it can come back when you least expect it, point proven with myself. Some suffer more than others, some hardly suffer at all and they get to a point where it seems like a distant memory, with just an ocassional feeling of unease and panic. Hopefully, this time round, when I feel those things, I can nip it in the bud, not let it progress and not end up back at the beginning again.

As part of my resolutions I also bought myself two 5 Year Journals. One is called Q&A and the other is The Happiness Project. Basically you write one sentence a day in each journal. One has a question you answer a day and the other has a 'happy' quote for you to reflect on to try and inspire happiness. After a year, you go back and answer the same things (or reflect on the same quotes) and see how your answers and interpretations have changed and developed over the years as well as your daily attitude. The hope is that they will have changed for the better, that you will be happier. I'm trying to keep it positive and it's helping me feel generally positive, which is good.

One of my goals is general self improvement, nothing specific. There are loads of things I would like to do, but I'm trying not to think about those and bum myself out, for example, not being able to go to college right now. First, I need to take baby steps, they will carry me in that direction, and by then, I might have different ideals about what I want to do with my life. By the time I feel up to being able to manage going to college, I might not want to anymore. Maybe I'll be too busy with my blog and making more of that; things change over time, what I want now isn't neccesarily what I'll want in a year or two.

I don't mind too much, as long as I keep moving forward. It's normal to have some knocks in life, but if you keep hoping, keep trying and never give up, you can keep heading in the right direction! I was starting to lose hope, if I'm honest. When I realised my agoraphobia had come back to haunt me and my anxiety was thwarting my efforts of doing the few normal things I was able to do, I got scared that I'd never get to live an even remotely normal life. That I'd always be too scared to leave my front door, I'd be isolated. Sometimes, I feel afraid and worried I won't move forward or get anywhere, but I know I will, I just have to keep going and I will get there eventually as long as I don't give up. Baby steps! 

I've got to make sure I don't bite off more than I can chew, and by breaking tasks down into a longer list of tasks, I will see I have done more when I cross things off and am less likely to get disheartened or feel like I'm not getting anywhere. By breaking these more complex tasks down, I'm actually getting further than when I try to tackle them all at once.

If you're guilty of this, getting frustrated, thinking you're not making progress, no matter what it is you're trying to do, or what your goal is, you should give it a go. You can achieve way more than you ever realise if you just break it down a little! It also helps you develop habits and make general changes to your life! If you need support, it's there, you just need to reach out! As always, I welcome readers to drop me an e-mail if you need help or advice and I will try my best to help!

Words and photography by Elizabeth Fleming of BeneBelle.

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