The predicament with most new year's resolutions is that somewhere along the line, we end up beating ourselves up when we break them.
Which is why we've come up with seven ways to be kind to yourself this year.
Think of them as guidelines. You won't always stick to them, but try as often as you can. Because by being kind to ourselves, we actually create the mental (and often physical) space we need to create good change in our lives.
Stick these on a wall somewhere, or have the list propped up somewhere visible. Kindness towards ourselves, unfortunately, doesn't always come naturally. So use these as prompts, and kick off a new and generous year.
1. Recognise when you need downtime
With terms like 'slobbing out' or being a 'couch potato' flung around regularly, it's no surprise that we can feel a degree of shame when it comes to relaxing.
Here's the permission you need: your body and brain require active and passive rest. So do all the things that make you feel calm (active rest). Depending on your personality, that could be reading a book, or it could be watching a YouTube tutorial.
And then, do the things that make you switch off completely (passive rest). Watch The Fast and the Furious. Spread out on the sofa and chill with the knowledge that you need this rest as much as you need your walk to work, or your session at the gym.
2. Change the way you speak to yourself
Every self-help book worth its salt will touch on this, and that's because we're so bad at it. Repeat the sentence, 'Would you talk to your best friend that way?', until you're acutely aware of the kind of dialogue you're having with yourself. The chances are, you'll need to adjust it.
Start congratulating yourself on tiny wins. Recognise the things you've done each day, every day. Whether that's getting to work on time, making a healthy choice for lunch, or complimenting a friend on their choice of shirt. Develop a mantra if that helps; 'I'm doing the best I can, and that's all that matters.'
3. Schedule in some alone time
This tip will depend on your personality type. If you're the kind of person who gets their energy from the company of others, then ignore this advice. If, however, you're the type of person that needs alone time to decompress and re-charge, then make sure you actually schedule this in.
If you have a partner, housemate, or a busy workplace, this activity often gets pushed to the wayside and you end up frazzled and stressed. Take Saturday morning, Sunday night, or Tuesday afternoon to be with just you. Put your favourite music on, enjoy your space, have a think (or don't think), and enjoy time spent alone so you can also enjoy time spent with others.
4. Listen to your body
Paying attention to your body is so important for knowing when it needs some TLC. Each body is different and each person has their limits when it comes to pushing our bodies physically and mentally, so listening to the cues your body gives you is crucial to figuring out what yours are. Headaches, aches and pains, feeling fatigued, feeling down - all these are symptoms to be listened to and taken care of. Start noticing and nurturing.
5. Get more animal time in your life
Lots of studies show the benefit of pets. They can help us to feel calm, less lonely, and more affectionate. If you're financially and time-able to adopt a pet, that's amazing. If not, take a friend's dog for a walk or make an excuse to go around for a cup of tea so you can pat their cat. Alternatively, visit a cat cafe or sign up to a dog walking service.
6. Laugh more
So obvious, but do we actively seek out the LOLs? Laughing is truly the best tonic. Watch that funny film, go to a comedy show or hang out with friends and family who give you the giggles. Laughing all your way to good health is a great idea. Plus, you'll have an enjoyable time along the way.