January felt like the longest month. As the month progressed it felt like it became longer and longer and would not end, like it had stretched to be 97 days long.
It wasn’t only the passing of my beloved hound Pippin (thank you for all your kind condolences), it just felt like a long and energetically draining month.
On the spur of the moment last week, I decided to take a few days’ break in London as a birthday treat. There was a glitch on the final airline payment page, so I repeated the process and then discovered that I was booked twice on the same flight! The airline helped me cancel one of the tickets and start the refund process. “Okay, no problem, these things happen,” I thought.
Then… the day before I was due to go to London, I found myself at the vet holding my Pip as she left us. One of my email addresses was hacked, I mistakenly got four theatre tickets instead of two, and the cab ride app wouldn’t accept my pickup point when I arrived in London. At lunch they brought the wrong meal. A cab driver refused to take me to the address I requested (so weird, it was not dodgy I promise!).
As I was thinking that January sucked, I also comforted myself with sugary ‘treats’ which, you guessed it, brought on the hot flushes, interrupted sleep and more feelings of gloom.
By then, I was starting to feel a bit paranoid, and I knew something was up. I was thinking about all that was going wrong, and I my thoughts were directing me to places I didn’t want to be.
It was time to switch to new thoughts.
I went to my toolkit, even though it felt like a big effort.
Get Out of Mental Funk Toolkit
💭 Reflect: What you think is true – is it really true?
I only started thinking that January was the longest month during the last week, when things started challenging me. It was actually a month of success, and the last week had many good things in it.
🤾♀️ Get moving: do anything, as long as you are moving your body for at least 20 minutes (preferably outdoors, but some *wildly* uncoordinated dancing to vigorous music also works wonders).
I walked through London and along the Thames with my son Brad, and there were throw-your-head-back-in-laughter moments that I will remember always.
🥤Shower your body on the inside with water, and then repeat through the day. It’s hard for your brain to think without plump little cells full of water. It’s so much easier to select new and different thoughts with a hydrated mind and body.
💁🏻♀️Talk to someone outside of your immediate circle (any neutral or positive subject), which gets you out of your own thought loop and helps you to see a bigger picture as you hear ideas different to yours.
We went to a gallery showing the largest collection of Andy Warhol works, ever. I had a fascinating discussion with the gallery director about seldom-seen art and how we bring creativity into everyday life with inspiration from artists.
🙏 The Gratitude of Five: write down 5 things that you are grateful for (besides the obvious health and family)
I am grateful that I can travel, see the work of famous artists in person (not just a book or online), that I live on a farm surrounded by nature, that I can connect with many people every year in a meaningful way, and for sunshine in winter (yes, London had sun in January!).
I realised two things tipped my thoughts away from my usual contentment:
🔴 My own recency bias skewed reality: January was actually a really good month with a few challenging experiences. In fact, upon reflection, if I hadn’t been heartsore, I would have found them funny, especially the indignant cab driver who wanted to drive west instead of east 😂
🔴 I also allowed confirmation bias to temporarily cloud my thinking. When things went wrong, I noticed more things that went wrong, and somehow I was attracting them, and more would come. But that’s not true: probably most occurred because I was distracted and tired from a lack of restful sleep and eating food that promoted a mental sludge.
If I hadn’t stopped to look back and reflect, I would have missed all the good things that happened.
I would have done what a friend suggested, and cancelled January to start the new year again on 1 February!
Let me know how your year is going. I’d love to have you on this journey with me.