It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!
Can you tell I really like Christmas? Well, I actually just really like December. London always looks so pretty (the Oxford Street window displays are at their finest), there’s that frosty bite in the air, there are decorations everywhere and people just become that little bit happier and more relaxed. It’s also my birthday on 23rd so that’s an extra bonus for me.
This year, however, is going to be my first one for a few years during which I am single. No boyfriend. No hint of romance. No New Year kiss for me.
But, I’m actually okay with that – despite the fact that some research is slightly damning for people who have no romantic links (but do not fear single people… it’s not all doom and gloom!).
The World Happiness Report 2017 says that being partnered is a ‘crucial factor’ in determining adult happiness in Western society.
However, the World Happiness Report is merely showing a correlation between being partnered and being happy… it could well be that if you are happy to begin with, you are more likely to find a partner. Maybe the relationship isn’t the cause of happiness, but rather is enabled by happiness.
In fact, some studies have shown that happiness is what leads to a romantic partnership, and not the other way around. For example, in one study by LeeAnne Harker and Dacher Keltner, women who expressed authentic happiness in their college yearbook photos, taken at ages 20 or 21, were relatively more likely to be married by age 27 and less likely to still be single at age 43.
What’s more, it is perhaps not specifically romantic relationships that we should be focussing on. Indeed, Brooke Feeney, associate professor of psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, within her definition of ‘close relationships’, includes family, friends and intimate partners. She says that ‘Relationships enable us to not only cope with stress or adversity, but also to learn, grow, explore, achieve goals, cultivate new talents and find purpose and meaning in life’. She says that ‘Relationships serve an important function of not simply helping people return to baseline, but helping them to thrive by exceeding prior baseline levels of functioning’. And so, we can get great wellbeing benefits from our non-romantic relationships as well as romantic ones.
Personally, I’m going through somewhat of a ‘positively selfish’ phase. I have made the conscious decision to work on my relationship with myself, really get to know myself again and to treat myself well and with kindness.
So I challenge you, Hubbers – whether in a relationship or not – to cultivate a little self-love this festive period. Our relationships with ourselves are the only relationships that are guaranteed to last a lifetime, and yet it is probably the one we work on the least.
So here are a few things to think about trying…
- Make sure you are practicing basic self-care. Eat well, sleep enough, allow yourself downtime and relaxation, and, if you are able, get up and move around regularly. Treat your body well and your mind will benefit.
- Meditate (a new one for me). I have found that setting time aside every day – it can be as little as 10 minutes – works wonders. Whether my mind is busy, calm, sleepy or concentrated, I have taken that time entirely for myself, to be still and centred with myself, and I feel better for it.
- Say no to things you don’t want to do. I’m not saying you should entirely reject any request you’d rather not do. However, when it comes to things like going out for dinner on a day where you just want to snuggle under a blanket at home, or going to another Christmas party just because you were asked, say no (politely of course). It isn’t necessary to constantly try to please people at the expense of your own happiness.
- Think about what you want and act on it. Whether it is getting a dog, a promotion or making it to yoga every week, set that goal, make changes to enable it and act like it’s going to happen.
- Absorb some culture. Read books, listen to podcasts, absorb things that interest and challenge you. Use the time you have alone to broaden your mind and learn new things.
- Lastly, give yourself a break. If you have made a mistake, try to treat yourself as you would treat a friend who had made that mistake. And when you are feeling good or have done something great, make sure you acknowledge how well you’re doing!
Having time to yourself is such an opportunity. It is an opportunity to really get to know yourself, who you are, what makes you tick and to do exactly what you want, when you want to.
And I’ll leave you with Oscar Wilde…
‘To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.’
Merry Christmas, Hubbers, and a Happy New Year!