Even with modernisation and ‘equal rights’ women are still expected to be Superwomen – to be career women, moms, wives, carers, daughters, home-owners, to cook, and clean, and generally take the responsibility for a family’s health and wellbeing under her control. Society ‘expects’ it, and as women, I think many of us expect it of ourselves. We don’t allow ourselves an ‘off day” – if we sneak some alone time, we often feel guilty for it. Women are trying to balance family and career, being independent yet nurturing and loving – and we’re often losing. There are a lot of expectations to do things ‘right’ – to raise the perfect family, have the great career, always look younger, get rid of the flabby arms and pot belly – and many of us feel guilty if we slip.
The dreaded 2013 is over and 2014 is here. While many of us feel bedraggled, stressed and exhausted, the good news is – we don’t have to go through this New Year feeling that way. And we certainly don’t have to in the next year.
New Year is often one more pressure – we make unrealistic resolutions and swear we’re going to do and become all sorts of new people. We promise to go to gym more often and not buy chocolate and drink herbal tea instead of coffee – and them we bare ourselves up and give up completely when we fail.
Rick Steves (I’m guessing he was someone smart) said: “Self-consciousness kills communication.” Ain’t that the truth! One of my gaols for 2014 is to stop being so worried about what people think of me. After all, what they think is none of my business! Let’s all rather use New Year as just what it is – a new day, a new beginning – and not the end of the world or the sign of what your life will be for the next year is you don’t have a great one.
Here’s some practical stuff for you to do:
Write a list of the things you like –about yourself, the world, the people around you, write down your strengths and your successes. We focus too much on what we aren’t or what we didn’t do and we forget that we are strong and courageous. Then write down what you want to achieve – and keep it realistic. Little, achievable goals are far easier to get to than one huge leap. So if you’ve put on weight over the festive season, aim to lose a little every month resolve to go to gym a couple of times a week rather than suddenly deciding to go every day. If your relationship with your mother isn’t what you’d like it to be, it isn’t going to be solved and sorted in a week – it’ll take time and commitment. Know what you want to achieve and have a realistic plan to get there. Focus on what you want to achieve – not what someone says you should want.
Breathe!! And take some time out. We can’t expect our cell phones to work if we haven’t charged the battery – we’re the same. Take some time out and recharge your soul. Pamper yourself every day (all year) – a bubble bath, some soothing music, a face mask, a new pair of shoes, hug the cat… whatever it takes to calm your ragged nerves.
At the start of this New Year, look at what you’ve achieved and what you have overcome during the last year. 2013 was not a good year for many people – you survived it though which means you did something right. You may have had some awful experiences in 2013, but look at the good ones. The smile of a stranger that renewed your hope in humanity for a day, the good news story of the kitten being saved from a pipe, the fact that you didn’t start smoking again, the new friendship you made….
It’s really important to keep focused and goal orientated throughout the year. We’re always ready to face the world and energised and determined when we start, but life happens, set-backs happen and we need to expect those things and know how we are going to handle them. Always have a back-up plan, always know who your support is, and always handle YOU. If there are problems or issues, or things you’re not coping well with, get them sorted out. Book a few sessions for yourself, a group session for you and your friends, plan breaks – resilience is key to staying ‘alive’.
The world we live in really seems to value the multi-tasker, the person who looks like they can ‘do it all’. But it is vital that you make your own choices and decide what is important in your life. Maybe working 18 hours a day is not right for you anymore – maybe now you long for weekends when you relax. People judge us for those decisions, and we sort of see people who take time out for themselves as ‘lazy’ – but taking that time is so critical for our well-being. Set hours that you work, schedule time for your family, and schedule time for yourself. Exercise and diet- it is important to regulate our bodies and minds, but don’t think you have to look or act a certain way – I hate the gym, and I’m a dreadful eater, but I walk the dog, play with the cats and I have the chocolate (but not every-day).
Some of these activities may be a fun way to get the new year off on a clean, positive foot: (You can do these on your own or with family)
- Draw a picture of yourself (and don’t stress if it isn’t perfect). Write next to the picture all the things you like about yourself and all your strengths.
- Time 5 minutes and in that time, without thinking, writes down all the things you are good at, all your strengths, all your positive qualities (do this throughout the year – and keep your lists to add to).
- Write down 5 things you are grateful for, 5 things you have achieved, 5 moments or things that make you smile.
- Clean out your cupboards – and get rid of anything you haven’t worn in 6 months, clothes that ‘one day’ you’ll fit in to, anything with ruffles, anything that makes you look in a mirror and ask “does this make me look fat’
- Write down the things you want to achieve this year – and break each goal into achievable steps. Don’t expect them all to happen at once either, so prioritise
- Talk about your expectations, fear, the things you’re excited about – anything (even the sales at the end of the month)
- Get out your diary and plan breaks and pamper sessions – alone, with family, with friends, with a book
Girls (and guys) it’s important that in 2014 you diarise time for yourself.
Schedule “Me –time” into everyday – whether it’s reading a book, paging through the hottest fashion mag, going for a jog, or just chilling in a bubble bath preferably with a glass of bubbly. This is your year and unless you are at your best emotionally and physically, you simply cannot perform at your peak.
My hero RuPaul once said that we were born, not to be perfect, but to be who we are. “You’re here to be you, not to be what someone else wants you to be. Stand up for yourself, look them in the eye, and say Don’t judge me until you know me, don’t underestimate me until you’ve challenged me, and don’t talk about me until you’ve talked to me.” Too often we do things to try to please other people or act a certain way to fit in. We ignore our own uniqueness and talents because we fear what people will think or say about us.
By Janine Shamos