A new year can bring with it a sense of hope and renewed possibility that we can lean into. It is an opportunity to reflect on and learn from the past and choose to focus on possibility and hope rather than carry forward negativity. Psychotherapist and bestselling, award-winning author, Noa Belling shares effective tips to line ourselves up for an excellent new year of fulfilment and achievement.
Today’s tips delve into the emotional side of transitioning well into 2023 for a boost to heartfelt strength and emotional resilience:
Start each day positively
Here are two ways to align with positivity for a motivating start to each day.
1. Align with positivity as you step out of bed: This can take less than a minute and can align you with your best self as you enter your day. It can be done sitting on the edge of your bed or standing. This is also a practice you can use on the spot any time during the day that you wish to align with your best self.
Stabilise through your feet: Place your feet evenly on the ground so that your weight is evenly balanced between the balls of your feet and your heels. You might rub your feet on the ground to wake up the nerve endings under your feet for more biofeedback from the ground up.
Stand to your full height to represent coming from your best or highest self for the day: To do so, lengthen your posture from the ground up, imagining being held between stability of earth and expansiveness of sky. You might feel an invisible cord raising you upwards through the crown of your head as you remain well grounded through your feet.
Open your breathing: Take two or three good deep breath that draw air in to your belly first and then up to your chest before relaxing into an exhalation. This can be a reminder of your ability to be inspired and stand into your bigger self (symbolically on inhalation). This is balanced by the ability to relax and let go (symbolically on exhalation). A welcome side effect is that a few deep breaths can boost your energy too through the oxygen infusion of breathing more deeply.
Open your heart: Place a hand on your heart for the intention to lead with warmth, caring and kindness for the day. This can encourage listening with heart to our own needs as well as the needs of others as we move through our day. You can also use this gesture any time during the day when you wish to reconnect with heartfelt intentions. You might notice how doing so even for just a few seconds, can shift your mind and mood.
2. Exercise in your favourite way at the start of your day: Doing so in the morning can give you a fresh and energised start to your day. Of course if you are not able to exercise at the start of the day, another time of day will align you with positivity too to feed into the rest of your day.
Meet emotions with kindness and caring
Emotions are matters of the heart that can be well remedied with a heartfelt approach. Compassion-based mindfulness is one such approach teaching us to pause when feeling emotional to acknowledge and soothe our feelings as well as to send good wishes to ourselves and others for a boost to heartfelt strength and a reminder of our shared humanity. This can go on to inspire actively making a difference in our own lives and the lives of others to further boost the sense of heartfelt strength that can feel deeply satisfying. This practice can counteract feelings like helplessness and hopelessness and help us face emotions more confidently.
Here is how you can go about it any time emotions well up inside you:
Place a hand where it hurts: When feeling emotional in any way, pause to use self-supportive touch such as placing a hand on the centre of your chest, where your heart lives. Or you might hold your own hand, or your head, or rub your thighs or wrap your arms into a self-hug – whatever feels good. Notice how touch can shift your feeling tone immediately. This is assisted by the release of oxytocin that can be released within seconds of supportive touch. Oxytocin is associated with feelings of nurturing and care and can remind you to take care of yourself. This pause to centre back in your heart, perhaps with a few good deep breaths, can also give us more resources to decide how to respond. We might find the patience to wait out a heated moment or the clarity to assure ourselves what we are going through is understandable and will pass in time. It can also soften our minds to think beyond animalistic survival modes like fight, flight or freeze to be able to choose wisely what to do next.
Send good wishes to yourself: Think of what would be really helpful as a quality like patience, kindness, love or courage, then wish this for yourself with your own words. Or you could say a prayer for yourself to support your healing and growth.
Extend good wishes outwards to others: You might feel inclined to extend kindness and care to others too. Perhaps you direct this to someone you know who needs support. You can go on to also extend further outwards to a community or part of the world or the world as a whole to include anyone going through a hard time. It can feel like energetic activism.
Turn good wishes into actions as you move through your day: Following this practice, consider how you might actively be helpful towards yourself and/or others. This applies no matter if your actions are big or small and no matter what form your actions take. Maybe today it is self-care you need most, or to show support to a friend going through a hard time. Or you could open yourself to random acts of kindness as you move through your day (proven to deliver a shot of feel-good oxytocin to giver and receiver alike). Or maybe it is a boost of courage you need today to stand up for what you believe in and fight the good fight, perhaps finding the support you need too along the way. With this final step of actively demonstrating kindness and caring towards yourself and others in ways that feel true, your compassion training for the day is complete.
3. Nurture connection with others
There is nothing that can beat contact with our special people. Focused, connected time can be a powerful antidote to feelings like isolation, anxiety and depression. As humans we are social animals wired to respond well to sincere and caring contact with other people. All it can take is a phone call, or a text, or setting up quality time face-to-face, to help revive our sense of connection with each other. It can light up our brain and nervous system circuitry conducive to happiness, optimal learning and a sense of reciprocity. Play also does this marvellously for quick upliftment. From board games and sharing sporting activities, to deep and meaningful conversations, shared activities knit us into a wonderful sense of connection. Spending time in nature and investing in spirituality in our own ways, can also knit us into a nourishing feeling of interconnectedness with the web of life. However we go about it, it is so important to make the time.
It is also true that significant relationships can be a cause of stress. Stress in a relationship does not mean it is necessarily unhealthy. According to relationship experts, Edward Tronick and Andrew Gianano, relationships cannot be stress-free all of the time. Their focus is on parent-infant attachment or bonding. Their research led to a conclusion that even if we miss each other a lot of the time, so long as we make genuine heartfelt efforts to repair the relationship as soon as possible after an upset, the relationship can stay on a healthy, trusting course. In heated situations between adults, it might be wise to take some time, such as 30 minutes to allow stress hormones to settle and allow us to think more clearly and rationally before returning to reconnect. The art of reconnection can also take some courage at times, such as in owning our part in a fight, apologising if need be, and being open to exploring how to do things differently in future. The good news is that trust and harmony can then be restored and resilience built for next time there is conflict or upset, which does tend to happen in lasting relationships.
To find out more about Noa’s books, visit https://www.noabelling.com/. Also look out for a new book on stress coming soon in 2023.
To learn more from Noa visit https://www.noabelling.com/. Options range from personal coaching and psychotherapy to tailored corporate talks and workshops.