Now, before you see this headline and think, “oh, here’s another ranting, sod off 2016” story, I am actually writing this post to not only thank the last year for each and every one of it’s many challenges, but also to reflect on the huge learning curves, invaluable life lessons and unbelievable opportunities that 2016 has given me.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” – Oprah Winfrey
Ok, niceties aside, it has also been a SHIT. There have been times when I’ve questioned my career, questioned where I am and what I’m doing, and most of all, questioned myself. From career to health issues, relationship troubles and house hick-ups, 2016 has definitely tested my patience, to say the least. I’ve had days where the last thing I’ve wanted to do is get out of bed and face the world, and I’ve had days where I thought donning a backpack and going travelling for a year was the solution to all problems.
But here we are; 2017. Here, and happy, healthy and still cracking my cheesy grin out. I lived to tell the tale and you know what, it’s one I wouldn’t take back and rewrite at all. I’ve met some lifelong friends in the past year – some work related, some randomly, but from each and every one, I’ve learnt something more about living positively, and the knock-on effect that approach has to your life. Far from preaching here – believe me, there are days when I struggle to find ANY good in what appears to be a colossally crap day, with 2017 kicking off, I thought I’d leap into the New Year with a ‘sharing is caring’ approach, passing on just a few of the approaches I (try to) use every day.
- Smile. Don’t underestimate the power of forcing a grin onto your face, not just for your own feelings of positivity, but for someone else’s too. Smiling releases endorphins (and it’s a hell of a lot less effort than exercise) so I try and take the time to smile at people walking past me in the street (some think I’ve lost the plot), and I force myself to smile even in my own company (yep, definitely lost the plot), because however bad a day you’re having, there are a million other people out there having far worse a day than you.
- Breathe. And no I don’t mean sitting cross-legged on the floor with your hands in the prayer position, humming “ommm”, although meditation is definitely on my to-do list this year. Taking time out to just take a few deep breaths when you’re feeling particularly sad, stressed or angry, and counting to 6, I find said feelings have slightly dimmed. Try it before you knock it, it works a treat.
- Take up something new. And something that really matters to you. Whether it’s charity work, cookery classes, exercise or even pole-dancing. I suffer with PCOS (read my post here) and for that reason, exercise has always been a chore, but a necessity for me. If I don’t workout, I suffer with insomnia, I pile on weight and I have zero energy. So for 2017, I’ve set myself the challenge of a ‘body transformation’ with Embody Fitness for three months, starting today. I’ll be training 3 times a week with a personal trainer, and following a nutritional plan too – follow my progress on the blog very soon.
- Allow yourself to be upset. Whether it’s a job-loss, relationship breakdown, grieving the loss of a loved one or just feelings of anxiety, don’t bottle up your emotions and act like everything’s gravy when it ain’t. There’s nothing wrong with crying on the sofa to the Bridget Jones box-set, or eating an entire family sized pizza because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Feelings, of any kind, are ok. A good friend of mine recently said to me, “try not to compare yourself to anyone. It’s easier to assume happiness is all around others, but we have no idea what challenges exist in other’s minds. Focus on what is within you, rather than what others bring to you”. Emma, you are an absolute diamond.
- Trust yourself. When I came to a crossroads in my career and couldn’t decide whether to take the plunge and leave my full-time editorial position as a Journalist, I looked to others to solve my problems, wipe away my woes and play my superhero. Fact of the matter, the only person that could decide if leaving were the right decision, and put the necessary tools into place, was yours truly. Trust your gut instincts too. If you have a bad feeling about your job, your relationship or taking the plunge of any description, perhaps you need to change your thought process and make a change.
- Break bad habits. Whatever they may be, and break them in tiny proportions. Whether it’s a constant putting down of yourself, an obsession with checking social media or an unhealthy love for Deliveroo, don’t attempt to eliminate said habit in one full swoop, but wean yourself off gently.
- Boost your self-confidence. This is without a doubt the biggest goal for me. Anyone that knows me, knows I am supremely lacking in confidence (despite what my social media says), and that I am my own harshest critic. If you can’t love yourself, as cliched and cringy as that may sound to you, then anyone else’s love or appreciation will fall by the wayside. By giving yourself the odd clap on the back (and trust me, I struggle to back myself), you learn to exist without the need for validation and approval from others.
So to summarise, yes 2016 may have been full of trials and tribulations, and I had a fair share of the shite, but a mantra I’m taking into 2017 is, ‘what will be, will be’. Be strong enough to let go of what no longer is and wise enough to wait for what you deserve. Every ‘positive pointer’ I made above, has genuinely helped me in some of my lower times, and I’m forever looking for new tools to continue the happy camper club vibes. Who’s with me?!
Oh and Happy New Year, you lovely lot.