I was pondering about what blog to write for the New Year when my daughter reminded me that 2021 also signifies the beginning of a new decade. I’m glad she did as this changed everything. I felt quite excited at the prospect of looking back over the past ten years. My thoughts flew to various places and events; and the people I was with during those memories. Rather than focusing on the end of the decade, which has been discussed, televised, and written about endlessly and has ended up being defined in one word, ‘Covid,’ I am going to reflect on the last ten years. This helps me to bring a sense of balance and perspective, while remembering all the joys and privileges life gave me from the nine years prior.
In January 2011, I was an integrative therapeutic counselling student and saw my first client as a student placement counsellor for a hospice bereavement service. I vividly remember how nervous I was. I’m still not sure how I got through the session, but that was the beginning of my psychotherapy journey and over the years I have met and worked with the most amazing, strong, kind, and brave people. This work continues to be extremely rewarding for me. Personally, there is much to look back on and be proud of - it has been the most significant decade in multiple ways. I witnessed my children grow up, graduate, and start to make their mark in life, which has been joyful, but I have felt sadness too, as they migrate into adulthood.
This is also a time for introspection and an opportunity to look within, where you will find more answers there than anywhere else. All of this makes me appreciate the joys and happiness of life more when they come along and helps me to embrace them fully.
On the other hand, 2020 could’ve been the year that you discovered something about yourself, whether it was creativity or play, a flair for cooking or baking, a love of chess or another hobby or even discovered yourself. Perhaps you found that you had strength and resilience in the face of adversity to an extent you were not aware of. Take a moment to recognise how wonderful that is and acknowledge it in yourself. Many of us reached out to long lost friends, relatives, colleagues and appreciated loved ones more than ever, especially if they are physically distant from us. We were forced to consider what is truly important in the face of a severe global threat, and realign our priorities.
Now that we are one month into a new decade, my simple message to you is to make some time for yourself, sit somewhere cosy and comfortable with your favourite blanket and a cup of tea or coffee, and let yourself wander through the last ten years. Consider the joys of simple everyday life and the boring stuff which keeps us ticking over, as well as birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations, challenges and accomplishments, love and laughter, and the tears too, the kindness you gave and received, the people you met, the places you visited and most of all the love and warmth of family and friends.
Lastly, I enjoy practicing a little gratitude at the end of each day. This could be for the simplest things, for example, “I am grateful I tried a new recipe and it turned out well”. If practiced everyday and over a period of time, gratitude can help to keep you grounded, improve low mood and have a positive impact on your well-being. Try it out and let me know how it goes.