The new year has only just begun, and each day holds the promise of a fresh start. In fact, each moment carries the potential to cause a ripple effect on the next moment, creating endless opportunities for clarity and refreshment.
In this season of Winter, nature provides clues to this concept of a fresh start. If you have ever taken a walk on a nature path during this time of year, one can’t help but notice that the trees have shed their beauty, the ground and all its contents are frozen, and the air is cold and unrelenting. However, upon closer look and further reflection, there are positive changes at work. Now that the trees have shed their leaves, the light can shine through more clearly. The frozen ground allows for the old to make way for the new. And the air provides refreshment, reminding us that our very breath is a powerful force within us as we take each step on our path.
As we keep in mind the natural cycle of the seasons, we can also be mindful of the seasons of our own lives. Taking one step at a time, one moment at a time, and one breath at a time, we can lay the groundwork for all of those other moments to come.
Our therapists at Counseling Works have some tips to share for resetting in the new year, and we hope that these will resonate with each of you in some way.
The Act of Listening
Beth Doud, Counseling Associate specializing in LGBTQ+, sexual difficulties, and trauma/PTSD, recommends the act of listening to oneself. She listens to what her physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs are. When she discovers what those needs are, she works on radical acceptance of those acts of care. Shame and guilt often keep us doing what we “should” do. Long-term denial of what our body needs for rest, connection, and self-compassion contributes to feelings of overwhelm and burnout. Taking time for self-care is just as important as other physical care acts we do.
Paying Attention to Clues
Haley Richards, Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in addictions/substance abuse, life changes/adjustments, and self-esteem/self worth, recommends paying attention to the clues you receive before burnout happens:
- Do you have less of a willingness to go out with friends?
- Do you find yourself isolating more?
- Do you have less patience with others?
It is more effective, if you can, to head off the burnout before it gets that bad. And if you’re already burnt out, you need to make yourself a priority. Now is the time to ask others around you for their understanding and support.
Regaining Your POWR
Caitlyn Campbell, Registered Dietitian specializing in body image, eating disorders, and LGBTQ+, recommends this skill typically used for emotional eating, but which can be applied in other areas of life when feeling overwhelmed:
- P = Pause Into Presence
- O = Open and allow (feel the feels)
- W = Wisely consider: think about what you need (have I eaten today, have I drank enough water, have I had enough social connections, have I taken time to relax)
- R = Respond with care: choosing to engage in whatever behavior is needed to take care of oneself
Simplifying for Clarity
Rebecca Karlinski, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor specializing in anxiety, depression, and life changes/adjustments, recommends tips for simplifying our daily acts in order to gain the clarity we need. She suggests going for a walk outside with no electronics. When looking at our personal calendars, we can refresh our commitments by recognizing and prioritizing important or meaningful plans.
Kristen Breese, Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in relationship issues, divorce, and professionals, suggests that we all lose our way at times, we over-commit to others, and we can get off track with our own goals. When we get lost and need a fresh start, she recommends committing to taking the next best step. It takes a long time to develop new habits, and keeping the commitment to ourselves is the most important part! Even the simple act of taking a nice, warm shower can make all the difference in starting the day anew.
As we return for a moment to our figurative walk on the nature path, it is also noticeable that ice forms at times on the rivers and lakes. While at first glance the ice can seem foreboding, it is actually initiating an important process. The wildlife that exists beneath it moves away from the ice and toward the warmth and nourishment near the ground. So too can we take steps toward that which provides warmth, nourishment, and grounding, ultimately preparing us for Spring.