By Daniella Doon-Joseph Cognitive Behavioral Therapist
2022 has been a rollercoaster of emotions as we slowly emerge from the tight grip of the pandemic. You’ve had to hold so much – for others, for yourself, and for your clients. This time of year is often considered as a time of joy and celebration. But for many this year, grief and loss might be at the forefront. So, as you wind down for this year and begin planning for the next year, I thought I would invite you to grab a cuppa along with a notepad and pen, get comfortable and try to engage with the following 5 things.
1. First … breathe
That sounds pretty basic, right? But the thing is, living through this pandemic has probably activated your flight-fight response and you may have noticed that you’ve been feeling tense and on edge with clients or your loved ones. When our sympathetic nervous system is activated, our heart rate and respiratory rate increases. If you’re willing to, I would invite you to take a couple of deep, even breaths. Counting to 4 as you slowly inhale and counting to 4 as you slowly exhale; and allowing yourself to notice how your chest expands as you breathe in and to notice the sensation as you exhale. And just allow yourself to take as little or as many breaths as you need to feel connected to your breath.
2. Take a step back and reflect
When we think back to how things went, we can get caught in the “should’ve, would’ve and could’ve” thoughts. For example, I should have been more patient, or I would have done that differently, or I could have done better. Hindsight is a double-edged sword and for some, the sound of self-critical thoughts can be deafening. So, if you’re willing to, I would just invite you to think about and write down on your notepad:
One thing you are really proud of yourself for doing
The peak of your year – one highlight from the past 365 days that you want to remember
The pit of your year – one tough moment from the past 365 days that sticks out the most for you
One thing you would like to continue doing in 2023
3. Connect to what matters most to you
Given the highs and lows of this year, the energy you’ve put in this year to keep yourself, your clients, and your loved ones safe alongside the restrictions, it may have been tricky to do the things you typically enjoy. Take a moment to bring to mind who and what matters most to you – have you been connecting to those people or those activities in the way you would have wanted to this year? As we slowly emerge from the past 2 years of COVID, have a think and write down how you would like to connect to who and what matters most to you?
4. Make time for YOU
Life is busy! We have responsibilities, endless to-do lists, and always mentally juggling what feels like a million things. When we think about taking time for ourselves, our minds can be a bit mean. And if your mind is anything like mine you might notice it saying things like “That’s selfish. I have too much to do, I don’t have any time! That’s self-indulgent. You don’t deserve it.” With that being said, I would invite you to think about what self-care practice might look like for you – this could be going to bed at a certain time, spending time with a friend or doing something you enjoy (e.g., being creative, being active). Make a list of any ideas that come to you and have a think about when and how you could include a few into your schedule.
5. Give yourself credit
You did it … you made it through 2022. The world has felt a bit upside down at times this year, you may have worried a lot about how to practice safely for your clients, you may have had some pretty tough moments and you’re still here – showing up and doing your best every day. We often praise our clients for giving it a go on their darkest of days but don’t always extend that practice to ourselves. So, I would invite you to take a moment to just give yourself a high five for that one thing you are really proud of yourself for doing this year.