I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions (or New Year’s Eve for that matter – too many bitterly cold evenings queuing to get into packed bars and waiting for overpriced taxis to arrive).
That period in early January when Christmas is over, we have all eaten and drunk too much and after a period of relaxation and enjoyment have only a return to the daily routine of work, cooking, cleaning and potentially school runs to keep us out of trouble, is the worst. When actually what we would really like to do is have a treat slice of cake, or a gin and tonic, early nights in front of the fire, a hot bath – and instead we are forcing ourselves to eat lettuce, not eat bread, schlep to the gym to wait in (a very long) line for some obscure piece of machine that renders us immobile for the next 3 days or to undertake some other gruesome or burdensome task that only makes us miserable. And all in an attempt to embrace the ‘new you’ and to become some superior version of our current self. Why, when at our lowest ebb, do we insist on making life yet more of an uphill battle?
I also quite like the ‘old me’. It’s far from perfect and requires some improvements (indeed, some significant overhauls could be necessary in some areas) but when it’s cold and dark I don’t feel it’s quite the right time to make old me learn new tricks; I would much rather do that in the Spring, when the weather is warmer, the days are longer and I’m not spending any free time in perpetual darkness. And the new tricks are far more likely to be effective and lasting if they are more enjoyable and feel less like torture and punishment.
So for me, New Year is about maintaining and getting through it; for me it’s not a time for growth. And nature seems to be with me on the whole. Bulbs and leaves have gone to sleep ready to reawaken in the spring, animals have laid down fat for their long winter sleep. Or maybe I was just meant to be born a bear so that I could hibernate all winter….
And with another national lockdown in the offing I suspect introducing more pressures to our lives is simply expecting too much of ourselves – and at a time when we need to be even more forgiving. The mantra ‘be kind’ was repeated often during 2019, but we seem to have forgotten that we should also be kind to ourselves too.
If now is the time you really want to embrace a couch to 5k challenge, join a gym or cut out some food group, go for it. But if it’s just another pressure in an already busy life, don’t be scared to wait until the time is right to change things up.