It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and whether you love or loathe all the kitsch and sparkle that comes along with the festive season, isn’t it good to have something that brings people together in love and celebration at this time of global awfulness, even if questionable jumpers are involved?
Inevitably, we will spend the last remaining weeks of 2023 panic-buying presents, frantically scribbling greetings cards and juggling social commitments before the big day arrives. In a flash it will all be over and we will face a week of turkey in various guises whilst, sluggish from overindulgence, we will plot our umpteenth attempt at reinvention to commence after the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Sound familiar?
So what about those New Year’s resolutions? Most of us set the bar too high and inevitably fail to suddenly become the uber-disciplined, teetotal, beach body versions of ourselves which has to this date eluded us and yet, we deceive ourselves that next year will be different! Whilst it’s human nature to always want more, the downside is the shame and sense of failure when we fall short of our goals.
Well, I’m here to disabuse you of the belief that achieving these external measures of “perfection” will help you live happily ever after. Happiness appears to be largely intrinsic; that is, not influenced by external events. This is supported by studies of lottery winners and people rendered paraplegic following spinal injury and it makes sense. We all know people who are grumpy despite seemingly having everything going for them and some who despite terrible hardship, remain resilient and optimistic. Glass half empty or half full, if you will.
Another interesting finding about the lottery winners is that they seemed to find less joy in the everyday mundane pleasures we all encounter - that perfect cup of tea, curling up on the sofa with a good book or sliding into a warm bath. Sadly, their big win makes all of the little ones seem less joyful.
Looking for and appreciating these small blessings sets us up for a more contented existence. A great way to tap into this is journalling. As unlikely as it may sound, journalling has been proven to improve feelings of happiness and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
What finds its way onto the page improves self-awareness and if you write about the moments that have brought you joy during your day, it shifts your subconscious mind into looking for all the good stuff that can otherwise so easily go unnoticed. Your journal can be your silent therapist, helping you process difficult emotions and work out solutions. There are no holds barred, you can rant and be as sweary as you like - the only person who is going to read it is you.
During my teens, I kept a journal to help me make sense of those turbulent years, then when Covid struck and turned the world upside down, I resumed my writing. Once again it helped to make a frightening and uncertain time easier to deal with. I now try to write every week and plan to keep this practice as a part of my life. What’s also fun is looking back on the last three years and seeing how much has happened! Try it - this is one New Year’s Resolution that’s easy to keep and does not require lycra.
2023 has been a wonderful year for my clinic, and I’m grateful for all of the support of my patients and my amazing team. We are hosting a Christmas Open Day at Dr Julia Sen Health & Wellness Clinic, 52 Barbourne Road, Worcester, WR1 1JA, from 9am-7pm on Saturday December 9. Why not join us for complimentary Visia Skin analysis, skincare advice, mince pies and mulled wine?
Wishing you love and happiness this Christmas,