Hello! Or should I say happy new year! It’s been a while since I’ve properly sat down and written a blog post due to a whole load of reasons – I feel like this post is going to be long enough without me rambling off-topic so we’ll save that for another day. Anyways, I hope everyone had a lovely, restful Christmas and I hope 2020 has been good to you so far? Which brings me onto the topic of today’s post:
Unhelpful habits I’m saying goodbye to in 2020.
I’m not usually one to make new year’s resolutions, why? Because I don’t believe in them. Can you name a new year’s resolution you actually stuck by for more than a few weeks? I know I can’t. That doesn’t mean to say I don’t believe in goals, because I do. I think goals are great but they should always be one thing: realistic. So, it may sound contradictory when I say that I believe in having dreams and doing whatever you can to make them happen; but as someone who gets very easily overwhelmed, I think starting small is a good place to start.
This year, I turn 21-years-old and during my time on this earth, I’ve learned that you can plan all you want but sometimes (or a lot of the time), life happens. So I prefer the term ‘life ideas’ rather than plans; ideas of who I want to become, what I want to do and why; but in order to get there, I’ve got a few bad habits I need to ditch along the way. So, here are the habits I’m saying good riddance to and a few new ones I’ll be welcoming in 2020.
1) Forgive myself and others.
There’s a lot of talk at the beginning of a new year about starting over as if we’re somehow brand new people when the clock strikes midnight – we aren’t. Personally, I think the whole idea of a ‘fresh start’ is one that almost guarantees anything but. We clearly want to escape and forget whatever happened in our lives previously but if you ask me, it’s impossible to start afresh when you’re making a conscious effort to do so. Ever heard of the pink elephant scenario? Well, for the next few minutes, don’t think about a pink elephant. You can think about anything else, but that. Easy right?
Wrong. All you could think about was a pink elephant – you see where I’m going with this? The point I’m trying to make is that embracing the fresh start of a new year is going to be pretty difficult if you’re carrying around old baggage, especially if those hefty bags are full of regrets.
So, I want to start the year by forgiving myself for everything I wish I’d done differently (or not done at all) because the hard truth is, I can’t change those things – no matter how much I wish I could or however much time I waste dwelling on them. I guess that’s the beauty of time, it moves on. So, I need to do the same. We all make mistakes, it’s how we grow. I’m not even sure if ‘mistakes’ is an appropriate term or whether they are in fact just life’s lessons.
Forgiveness is by no means easy but it frees up a lot of space mentally, emotionally and spiritually. So I want to start the year by forgiving myself and others, both those in my life currently and those who aren’t for whatever reason. If you’re reading this thinking ‘ahh, could she be talking about me’ – yeah, possibly. But I want you to know that we’re cool. I believe everything in life serves a purpose and I guess our time was up – and that’s okay. Maybe our paths will cross again someday but if not, I wish you well.
2) Stop discounting my inherent worth and let go of guilt.
2019 was a good year for practising self-care and realising that actually, I am worthy of being taken care of. I know I need to do more of what makes me feel good to look after my mental and physical health but actually making time to re-charge my batteries often ends up at the bottom of my to-do list. I realised this was mostly due to the guilt I’d feel for making time for myself on an already chocker to-do list. But then I realised something else, ‘me time’ is essential. I need to re-charge my batteries to be able to do the things on my to-do list. If I don’t, I burn out.
I wouldn’t go to write a blog post knowing my laptop was about to die would I?
So, in 2020, I’m letting go of the guilt and I’m making ‘me time’ part of my schedule because when I work less and relax more, the work I do is a lot better and I can do more in less time. Trying to push myself when I’m running on empty is completely counter-productive so WHY DO WE DO IT?! Is workaholic culture to blame? Possibly. There’s no denying that we love talking about work and getting sh**t done! But for the sake of staying on topic, that’s a matter for another day.
I realise now that when I feel like I need a break, I need to take it. So in 2020, I’ll be doing just that.
3) Stop seeking approval.
For those of you who really know me, you’ll know that making decisions is not something that happens easily, I crave input from others and there are certain people whose opinions really matter to me – which I think is okay. However, for me to make a decision, it requires intense preparation in the form of pros and cons lists, evidence and a whole lot of contemplation; which again, is fine – in moderation. This often leads to increased stress levels, self-doubt and getting so overwhelmed that by the time I’ve weighed up every single pro and con I can think of, I’m totally incapable of making a choice.
You may be reading this and disagree with everything I’ve just said as I can be quite an impulsive person, especially where tattoos are concerned. Those once tiny dots on my fingers are still expanding and I’m not sure if they’ll ever stop, so yeah, that’s probably something I should’ve thought more into – will this stop me from getting spontaneous tattoos in the future? Probably not.
However, I do realise that impulsive decisions may not always be the way to go and some decisions should be made carefully, but if we spend our whole lives worrying about may or may not happen if we do that one thing, we’d never do anything. So, in 2020, I’d like to start listening to my gut more, stop over-analyzing and stop seeking approval from others. If it feels right, I need to just do it.
4) Accept my ‘imperfections’ *trigger warning.
This next habit makes me feel like somewhat of a fraud as I ramble about self-care and self-love in the form of excessively long Instagram captions and blog posts, and sometimes, I like what I see in the mirror; however, I also have days where I despise it (thanks Body Dysmorphia). On these days, I analyse every single part of my body. I pick it apart. I hate it. I hurt it. It may sound like I’m exaggerating but sometimes I genuinely believe I look so disgusting that I want to die (wow, that got deep real quick) – how I’m able to feel so differently about my body depending on my mood still shocks me but that’s the reality of BDD.
So, offline, I guess I’m not always as body positive as I’d like. And to be honest, even on the days where I feel okay about how I look, I’m not sure I could say I love myself. That being said, it’s impossible to feel positive 24/7 – I know that. It’s all about balance. So perhaps gaining confidence and accepting the things I don’t like about myself is a more realistic goal. I’m also not totally fond of the word ‘imperfections’ as these are the things that make me, me. So we won’t have any more of that in 2020 either.
5) Try to overcome my fears.
In 2020, I’d like to do more of the things that scare me. Perhaps conquering my fear of blood tests is a little unrealistic, so for now, we’ll go with the things that make me feel uncomfortable. Last year I did something I never thought I’d be able to do: go into town with no makeup on (with the exception of a little mascara). You may be reading this thinking ‘that doesn’t sound like much’ but when you’ve spent the entirety of your teenage years battling Body Dysmorphia (BDD) and rarely leaving the house, I consider it one heck of an achievement.
I’ll be honest, I hated it. Every single second. Those ten minutes of browsing market stalls felt like an eternity. But I got through it. How? With the support of my girlfriend (and my dog who’s basically my best friend / child), I was able to (somewhat) distract myself from the negative thoughts fuelled by the toxic duo of BDD and a futile fear of judgment from others.
I’ll never know whether my fear came true (or not) and actually, does it really matter? A few days ago, I started reading the novel ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k’ by Sarah Knight. Now, I will say that telling someone who’s caught up in the toxic arms of mental illness not to give a f**ck about things they genuinely believe are true is a complete waste of time; however, I’m not in that place anymore (thankfully). So with my new and improved perspective, I can appreciate Sarah’s wise words. I still have a longgg way to go before I can well and truly not give a f**ck but I’m beginning to chose how to spend my f**ck budget wisely and caring so much about what other people think is certainly not worth my precious f**cks.
So, getting back to the point, leaving the safety and familiarity of your comfort zone is never enjoyable – hence why we avoid it. Of course we’re going to continue to do things that make us feel safe and in control – we’re human! But I’ve since come to realise that I achieve most when I step out of my comfort zone. I used to believe that if anyone saw me without any form of makeup on my skin, something terrible would happen – surprise teenage Beth, it didn’t. I was exposed. I felt vulnerable. But I was okay. And looking back, it was actually rather nice to feel the gentle Summer breeze brush against my skin.
The conclusion? I think it’s about recognising that sense of vulnerability, accepting it for what it is and reminding ourselves that we are safe and we are still in control. And taking small, manageable steps is always a good place to start and eventually, that thing we’ve been avoiding won’t seem quite so scary anymore.
6) Connect with myself more often.
In 2020, I want to make it my mission to do more of what makes me feel good; whether that’s going for woodland walks, yoga, working out, eating mindfully, consuming less caffeine, reading or drinking more water – whatever! All of these things help keep my mind and body feeling good, so why do I keep forgetting to do them?
Yesterday, I actually took some time to practice yoga, I’ll admit, I’m a total novice but even so, the benefits of a few simple stretches made all the difference. Afterward, I realised just how much I enjoyed stretching and the difference it made to my mentality; I felt refreshed, at peace and more motivated – yet I hadn’t made time to stretch in weeks, maybe even a month…
I find that yoga helps me feel less tense both physically and mentally; for example, I often experience backache (and by often I mean almost daily) but stretching really helps ease this pain. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s cured my backache but it certainly helps! Yoga also helps bring me back to the present when my mind begins to wander so for me, it’s a great way to connect with my body and put my mind at ease – basically, I think yoga is brilliant and if you can, definitely give it a go!
One thing I will say is that it’s important to remember that everyone is different and what works for me might not work for you – it’s all about finding your niche which can take time!
So, I guess that’s a wrap! My first post of 2020! Ahh, it still feels odd saying that but I have a good feeling about the year ahead. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it – it feels pretty darn good to blow away the cobwebs from my little corner of the internet. I’d love to hear your 2020 goals, let me know in the comments!
– Beth X