When someone asks us ‘what do you do?’ we nearly always reply with our occupation. Work, for many of us, is much more than a job. It is the defining aspect of our life and thus of our identity. One of the things I have come to understand, however, is that our identity is multifaceted, fluid and dynamic. Identity is much more complex than we recognise at first glance. How we see ourselves, narrate our lives and share our story, is central to the issue of our identity.
As the days begin to lengthen, the plant world reawakens and the animal world birth their new generation our human impulse is to follow along and take our cues from nature. For many of us spring marks a change in routine and the beginning of a new cycle. As we retire our winter coat, change out our heavy duvets and dust down the shelves the important ritual of spring cleaning begins. This season, that evokes renewal and change, can also serve as a cue to spring clean our mind and take some time to shed any old unhelpful routines, thoughts, and behavioral patterns.
Psychologists are regularly berated for spending their workdays reaching blindingly obvious conclusions about the world, a criticism that is not entirely unwarranted. But when I tell you that loneliness is more than just a bad feeling, it is in fact more dangerous for our health than obesity and as deadly as smoking, you might be surprised. What can you do to escape the grips of loneliness? According to Psychologist John Cacioppo we should try EASE (ing) our way into healthy connections with others.
Whether you’re prone to making New Year resolutions or not, as January rolls around new beginnings and fresh starts soon follow. New Year’s resolutions aren’t like ordinary goals. They are far more powerful because the end of one year and the start of another symbolises another chance to achieve those things we have always dreamt of, or perhaps to lose a few unhelpful and unhealthy habits we have cultivated along the way. It is probably quite fitting that after a season of indulgence we resolve to change our habits in the New Year.
Whist for some of us, this can undoubtedly be “the most wonderful time of the year” for others the holiday period can be one of the most triggering, challenging and emotionally exhausting times of the year. This is particularly true for those of us planning on spending any time with our families. Let's be honest, not all of us grew up in (or inherited) sane, functional, compassionate families. There may even be times over the Christmas period when you find yourself wondering where that otherwise functional healthy adult whose body you inhabit for the other 364 days of the year has gone to. If spending the holiday season with your family feels challenging, you are not alone.