The start of the New Year is said to be a time to reset to avoid falling into the same unsustainable patterns of the past in the year ahead.
Megan Gonsalves, Crisis Line and marketing manager at Netcare Akeso, recommends important insights and recommendations to set the tone for a productive and successful 2024.
“When our work-life balance falls out of kilter, all spheres of life are likely to suffer eventually unless we take steps to assert our boundaries to redress the balance.
“Taking the time to reflect on the past year allows us to assess whether we devote enough time and energy to our physical and mental well-being, relationships with others and our occupations.
“In the pace of modern life, additional pressures can easily start heaping up on us if we do not have strong boundaries. The beginning of the year is therefore the ideal time to plan proactively how to manage the demands of the year ahead,” she said.
Gonsalves also pointed out that there will always be circumstances outside one’s control. "It is critical that we establish our tactics, internal resources, and talents ahead of time to cope with the inevitable difficulties that come with life.”
Ashira Moonsamy, an occupational therapist at Netcare Akeso Richards Bay and Netcare Akeso Umhlanga, added that conscious mental preparation for the coming year helps set the stage for establishing the necessary balance for optimum, long-term functioning.
Moonsamy’s 10 tips to plan for a strong 2024:
1. Be realistic about what you can take on. Setting goals for the year ahead requires an honest evaluation of the commitment and capacity available for these tasks. Consider setting a series of more achievable goals spaced throughout the year, contributing towards your ultimate objectives for 2024.
2. What fuels you? Only you can decide what your needs are for keeping motivated and fulfilled. Plan positive ways of replenishing yourself when the going gets tough, such as relaxing activities, spending time with family, or dedicating time to giving back to your community.
3. Make space in your diary for rest. Maintaining our well-being requires taking regular breaks, which ultimately enable us to achieve more overall.
4. Nurture your good relationships. Surround yourself with people who are good for you, and invest time in supportive, fulfilling relationships with your partner, friends and family. If you are struggling to connect emotionally, this could be a warning sign of burnout.
5. Commit to a healthy routine. Sleep, exercise and self-care are the foundation of our resilience to stress and cannot be sacrificed to make way for added responsibilities – no matter how busy 2024 turns out to be.
6. Remember, it’s okay to say ‘No’. Setting healthy boundaries and sticking to them helps protect us from becoming overwhelmed or feeling resentful as the year progresses.
7. Create an early-warning stress scale. Identify the different levels and associated symptoms of stress you have experienced before, ranging from healthy positive forms of stress that contribute to motivation to more harmful levels of distress that may be mild, moderate or severe.
8. Plan your support resources. Talking through our worries with a friend or loved one can often help us process stress and put it in greater perspective.
9. Don’t put your eggs all in one basket. Maintain different areas of your life, including work, social life, hobbies and interests, as this will help you to draw energy and support from the areas that are going better than others.
10. Allow for flexibility and practise self-compassion. Begin the new year with realistic expectations for a few bumps in the road ahead. Be gentle with yourself, and remain adaptable to make the best of 2024, whatever this year may bring.