So I have to admit that the year 2021 was indeed a difficult one, for all of us, and this year has sadly started in an eerily similar fashion. It’s crazy to think that we have been living in this dystopian existence for almost two years now, and yes, it’s been deflating and demoralizing in so many ways. I also have to admit that even though I have had it much, much easier than most people, 2021 did finally start to take a toll on me, particularly through that final month of December.
I consider myself the world’s most optimistic person by the way, and it takes a lot to get me down, which is why I was really surprised when I started to recognize a shift and a dip in my mood. I struggled to find that extra gear, and I began to find it hard to tap into my usually overflowing energy reserves. I found myself asking, “Is it Friday yet?” over and over again throughout the week, and before I knew it I had started pinning my happiness on the start of the weekend. I even started counting down the days until the school holiday break…yikes. It got to the point where I knew that I needed to share how I was feeling with the people closest to me, and I’m glad that I did because as it turned out, they were feeling it too…truthfully, I bet we all were.
Anyway, since the holiday break I have done a lot of running and reflecting (and less eating and drinking), and I’ve started the new year in a much better place, my usual place. I feel like I’m back to my old self (thankfully) due to a few little tweaks that I’ve made to my attitude and mindset, and as usual, due to a great idea from my amazing wife. I started by re-reading the book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, which I highly recommend, and I pinpointed some triggers and routines that had started to become unproductive habits toward the end of the year. Then, once I identified what they were, I changed them as fast as I could.
I started a new running route and routine, at a different time, with a goal attached to it for the Spring. I considerably cut down my use of social media, which was sucking the life out of me, seeing the endless posts of people sharing their best lives (staged or not), or hearing all about the latest Covid updates and opinions. I started to listen to music that I absolutely love in the mornings before school (80’s is my go-to recently), and as a foundational commitment, I chose a word…a word that will define my attitude and perspective over the next 12 months. I think I might even stick it up on my bathroom mirror to keep it front and center in my mind each and every day, which will help me to stay present.
Listen, I’m not at all trying to trivialize the incredibly difficult year that so many people have had over the past 12 months, with the loss of jobs, or loved ones, or those people who are right now trying to survive a very real struggle with mental health, because my dip in mood obviously pales in comparison. If however, you are looking for a fresh start to a new year, or if you can’t seem to shake a low level sadness, dip in energy, or mild depression, then try shaking things up a little. As simple and potentially silly as these changes sound, they are actually working, and the shift and purposeful intent behind them has helped me bolster my joy and gratitude. The other important thing that I can recommend is to be vulnerable, and to open up to a few people that you trust so you can get the support and friendship that you need. Sometimes just talking about how you’re feeling can be cathartic enough to get you back on track.
One thing for sure is that I’m going to stop asking, “Is it Friday yet?”, and get back to being more present in the day to day experiences of life. Happiness is not only found at the beginning of a weekend, it’s in the beautiful little moments embedded in each and every day leading up to a Friday afternoon…it’s time that I get back to practicing what I preach, and so far it’s been a much better start to 2022. Hang in there everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the week…
The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness – Abraham Maslow
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