So, how was 2021 for you? Was it a great one, despite the Covid cloud hanging over us all? Was it simply alright? Or was it a pretty rubbish one?
Whether you’re happy to wave good riddance to the year now that we’re saying hello to 2022, or you’re quite happy with how 2021 went, it’s a good idea to reflect. Taking the time to look back on the year as it ends is beneficial for our emotional wellbeing.
When we reflect, it isn’t just on the things that we’ve done or experienced personally in our lives. It’s about global events too - the good and the bad.
This year we’ve had the highs of the Olympics and world leaders coming together at COP26 to make climate change pledges (let’s hope it’s not all just hot air…). But we’ve also had a year of fear and worry over the continuing global pandemic and the effects of that have shrouded many of our lives.
So how do we reflect in a healthy way, that can perhaps help us move into a new year feeling positive and resilient?
The Benefits of Being Reflective
Reflective practice, or simply being reflective, is thinking about what we’ve done and experienced. We can look at it as a type of “learning from experience” tool.
It’s in our nature to think back on negative things and feel negative thoughts from them. But being reflective, rather than just thinking about things, helps us to learn and gain insight from them. Which in turn can either allow us to make different choices (on the things within our control) next time, or let us think more positively about them if they’re out of our control.
The message is - don’t be hard on yourself for decisions you deem bad. Stop berating yourself for things that have happened - whether they’re in your control or not.
How to Be Reflective
Here’s five tips on practicing reflection. They’re ideal to be used at the end of a year before leaping headfirst into a new one. But they can equally be used weekly or monthly, or at each annual anniversary of an event of your birthday.
Write down how you're feeling, right now.
Include the things going on in your life that matter to you - good or bad. This can be your job and how much you like it or don’t like it. Your relationship if you have one can be the same, think about whether or not you’re happy or unhappy, and record the things you like and don’t like. Think about where you’re living, what your savings are like, how you feel about your body image. This has a double benefit - it means that you’re taking time to mindfully reflect on what you feel like right now, plus it serves as a record that you can go back to this time next year to see what’s changed.
Be kind to yourself - always.
In terms of being reflective, this means looking back on the things that have hurt or upset you, and thinking of ways to make peace with them. It might be that you have bitter feelings over a breakup because your partner cheated on you. Think of ways to deep breath what’s happened to you. For example, think of the ways life is better and easier now, without a partner that has it in them to cheat. Often, approaching bad things reflectively as something “that happened” can help us slowly feel less angry and upset and more accepting.
Write down the things you like about yourself.
When being reflective on the year, think of the attributes that you have that have meant you came away from somewhere feeling good. It could be your kindness, or your ability to make people laugh or feel good about themselves. Or the fact that you deal with conflict calmly and rationally.
Include the bad things, but with forgiveness.
Forgiveness is hard, especially if we’re still hurting. But forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you’re telling them that their behaviour was acceptable. It’s more setting yourself free from the burden of negativity which is incredibly good for our mental wellbeing. You don’t even have to be speaking to that person anymore to forgive them. You can forgive within your own mind and it’ll have the same effect.
Look forward with positivity.
Once you’ve reflected, think about what things you can learn from who you are and where you are. Think about the things that you have to be grateful for. What are the things you love? The changing seasons reflected in the tree outside your bedroom window perhaps? Or the love and acceptance of your partner, the support from your family or the fact that your neighbour pops in to feed your dog when you’re out? There’s a lot to be grateful for in life, we just need to find it. Even if it’s five minutes of peace each morning to enjoy a coffee. Take it, and enjoy it, because it’s all yours.
Happy 2022 from Sönd!
It’s been a funny year, one where life under Covid sort of began to feel almost normal. (And we use the word ‘normal’ loosely…).
Whatever your 2021 looked like, and whatever plans you have for 2022, may it be a good one for you.
We’ll be back with the same inspiring content each week to keep you entertained and happy in your own skin. Because there’s no better place to be.
2022, we’re ready for you!
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.