By Dr Margaret Nakhid-Chatoor, Psychologist/Educator
From the reports circulating on social media about the pandemic, both negative and positive, it seems that we are in for a rollercoaster ride in 2022. The speed of the virus and its many variants have increased and as persons struggle to manage private and domestic issues, job losses and financial expenses, mental illness and its deleterious effects have not lessened.
How can we put a plan in place for the new year, to help with the unforeseen stresses that are inevitable? Choose your crew! Choose those who continue to affirm you; those who have been doers and not talkers and helped you and your family in the last year; and those persons who have added value to your life.
In 2022, be selective about those who enter your mental space. These include family members who are always bringing you down or who have been verbally and physically abusive to you.
There may be persons on the job, especially co-workers and leaders who intimidate or harass you with slight regard for your feelings and opinions – put on your blinders and zone them out!
Remember that not everyone will be respectful or show care towards you as oftentimes, they are insecure and bitter about their own life experiences. Do what you have to do, conscientiously and ethically – but zone them out! Protect your peace of mind.
In the new year, your inner peace should be your first priority to mental health and well-being. This involves self-care, self-love, and gratitude for what you have and all that you are becoming.
While it may be difficult to put into practice at first, being ‘at peace’ with oneself will lessen your feelings of being stressed out or anxious. This does not mean that there will be no stressors or hard work or difficult circumstances – these adverse situations may always be there.
What it suggests is that you remain calm in the storms of your life – that you protect your inner safe spaces which only you have control over and which no-one else knows about.
Avoid people and places that drain your energy. This includes the conversations that spiral into negativity and the ongoing arguments with others who make no attempt to change themselves – but are always keen on changing you.
Leave these negative spaces; hang up the phone; get to know the triggers that make you spiral into a web of anxiety and frustration and avoid them. Do not allow negativity into your mental and emotional world for 2022.
Let go of things and people that you cannot control – remember that the only person you can change is YOU. In the same way, you should not attempt to control or try to change others.
If you continue to allow persons to cross boundaries by saying and doing things to you that are inappropriate or which leaves you sad and agitated, it is time to put up some boundaries. What are you waiting for? 2022 is about your self-care and safeguarding your mental wellness.
And what about those self-destructive thoughts that you continue to have – do you overthink every situation and over analyse what you hear and what persons have said? There is a thin line between constructive advice and unnecessary criticism and judgement.
These thoughts can be self-defeating, angry, and overpowering – let them go, people! Stop fighting with your thoughts that disable you or leave you feeling as if you cannot achieve anything or make any clear decisions, always second-guessing yourself. Let them go! Distract yourself when thoughts of self-harm; revenge, proper ‘cussing out’ of others come your way – get busy; move off the bed; walk around the house; call a friend.
Focus instead on your successes and your triumphs. If you did good things before, you can surely do them again. You deserve to be happy. Tell yourself this.
Be mindful of your thoughts and the people around you. Choose your crew wisely. Surround yourself with persons who want the best for you, who lift you up and help you to learn from your mistakes.
In saying this, it also means that you have to want the best for others as you will attract what you are for yourself. Do not be afraid of moving away from the comfort zone that you had of people that you liked, but who were always negative and unreliable –always there for others but never for you.
Remember also that what others think about you, does not define who you are. Be kind to yourself and value who you are.
Happy New Year 2022. Take care. Be safe.