Liz’s Life: Moving on

Liz shares a personal insight into her life in her regular column in Liz Earle Wellbeing Magazine. In this edition, Liz reflects on the unexpected challenges of 2020. She also reveals the steps she’s taking as she moves towards the future.

Liz writes…

How are you feeling about the new year ahead? Hopeful? Cautiously optimistic? Glum?

Personally, I am hopeful for better times ahead. 2020 was downright dreadful and I’m very happy to be pinning up a new calendar with lots of lovely clear space for fresh opportunities, dreams and goals. In truth, I’ve already blotted most of 2020 from my mind. Dealing with work stress, extreme ill-health of several close to me and going through a divorce during lockdown is not something I was expecting this time last year.

What 2020 taught me

Like many, the events of recent times has taught me much about resilience, the importance of staying focused to stay sane and just how crucial it is to channel positivity. Ironically, my chosen word for last year was ‘Joy’. Not such a clever choice in hindsight, but having committed to maximising my joyful moments, I was reminded to seek out pleasure in the small things I could still control: messaging funny memes to friends, trying my hand at sourdough bread baking and pausing to make the most delicious – and much needed – cups of real tea.

In the midst of dark times, I learnt just how important it is to stay positive and keep the faith that all will, eventually, be well.

Moving forwards

So now it seems the right time to leave the bad stuff behind and move on to a fresh new start, both physically and emotionally. Interviewing so many medics this past year for my weekly podcast has made me realise how what we think influences how we feel.

I’ve learnt that it’s possible to literally think myself happier by taking a few minutes out to concentrate on my breathing to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and encourage my body to ‘rest and digest’. Breathing out for a little longer than breathing in really helps, as does taking my breath deep down into the diapgragm (I’m a guilty shallow-breather).

Having a bad year has also made me seek out ways to better protect my mental health, something I’ve not really given much thought to before. I now start the day with some positive thinking, breath work and a bit of journalling, instead of turning on the news and lurching into the day without much of a thought.

Much of my working day is taken up with focusing on physical health – helpful ways to impove our fitness, look after our looks and protect our sleep and immune system to stay well.

Thoughts for 2021

This year, my New Year’s resolution is to guard my mental health, to move on in a positive direction and feel empowered to focus on the positive in all things. My new word for the year ahead is ‘Positivity’.

In the words of the Irish serenity prayer, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Happy New Year.

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