January 3, 2014 by talkaboutyork
I had the luxury of sitting in the hairdressers for about three hours this morning. I got to sip on lattes and read magazines while someone played with my hair. Bliss.
While I was flicking through the magazines, I found a huge number of articles about new year resolutions: how to get fit, how to lose the weight for good this time, how to take up some worthwhile cause, how to be a better friend/wife/mother. It was exhausting to read. There were even articles on how we need not beat ourselves up if we can’t stick to our resolutions. And of course there were all those stories of amazing people who had had some tragedy befall them only to turn their lives around and are now living the ultimate dream.
I am convinced that women’s magazines are in cahoots with the self-help book and mental health industries. They all seem designed to make you feel worse about yourself than before you started reading them.
However, there was one magazine which had uplifting material in it, some genuinely useful tips (so useful I took snapshots of the relevant pages with my phone). The best bit of advice I read about resolutions was to simply never use the word resolution. A resolution means an end. A better way to say it is to ‘make a decision’. That is a far more powerful and positive way of looking at things. It means you move forward, rather than stopping.
Instead of making a resolution to lose weight, you could make a positive decision to eat so that you feel better about yourself. Last January I promised myself that I will NEVER again go on a diet in this bleak, grey month while beating myself up about not exercising all while avoiding alcohol to wash away the misery of it all.
This year I have decided to be positive and do things that I know will make me happier. So for example, I have just baked a banana bread. This has made me happy because it smells lovely, I’ve used up some brown bananas that would otherwise have gone in the bin, I feel a tiny bit domestic and I can enjoy a slice in a moment with a cup of tea. It’s a small treat that will make me feel happier. It won’t help me shift the Christmas weight, but I’m not going to pressurise myself to starve. I am forty. I want to be fit and healthy, but I accept that my body is not that of my twenty one year old self. And that’s ok.
I also went running yesterday. It was hell. First run in a year. But after the first five minutes of wanting to cut my legs off and getting a lung transplant, I could feel the endorphins kick in. And it made me feel happier.
I also did two jobs yesterday that I hate doing. I cleaned out the fridge and the oven. God awful tasks, but for an hour and a half I cleaned with gusto while listening to some good music. And now when I open the fridge, I smile as its gleaming shelves sparkle at me and when I cook without billows of smoke coming from the cooker, I feel happy.
After recovering from my run and cleaning efforts, I sat on the sofa flicking through the local York magazine and noticed an ad for a blood donor clinic. And instead of thinking, you know I really should do that and then do nothing about it, I registered there and then and got myself an appointment. That small step felt powerful and positive. As did finding out about a fundraising walk which will be a really fun night out with a group of mates. Tick and tick again. Two more things to make me feel happy.
And today, at the hairdresser, I decided that I could keep my old, safe hairstyle or I could just chop it off and be different. I now sport short hair. I don’t care how it looks. Because if feels great.
So this is how I plan to live this year. I am going to keep making small decisions to be happy, rather than resolving to change who I am.
Because (and here’s something I’ve debated revealing)…. who I am is someone who has lived with depression for years, without fully realising it or refusing to acknowledge it. But I am making a decision to fight it without medication and to simply do things that I know will make me happier:
– eat healthily yet happily
– drink less
– exercise more
– make small goals to get a sense of achievement
– get back to work
As the saying goes: depression is not a sign of weakness. It means you have been strong for too long. I have a made a decision to accept that how I have felt for years is not normal. But that I can change it, simply by doing things that make me feel happier.
So that is what I plan on doing in 2014. I know that when the black clouds roll in, it will be hard to hang onto this decision, but I’m going to just take each day as it comes. And if at the end of year, I look back and see that I was generally happier, then it will have been the first step towards success.