A Christmas journaling reflection...

Christmas week is busy... but grab some time to reflect and process how you want to move into 2022 says Dr Michelle O'Driscoll in her weekly column
A Christmas journaling reflection...

Give yourself the gift this week of taking some time and processing the year that has been. Picture: Stock

IN this Christmas week, before the typical New Year resolutions of planning, looking forward and hoping to better yourself, as we prepare to head into a period of hibernation and retreating from the usual daily grind, it can be nice to create some space for what has been, to inform those big life decisions.

After a year that held such post-pandemic promise, only to fail miserably on the delivery of that, processing what we’ve experienced may be just what’s needed in order to move forward. It might be nice to do this in your mind, or to get out a journal and pen and start to write in response to these prompts.

Set some time aside, put on some background music, make a cuppa and settle yourself comfortably.

Give yourself the gift of time and opportunity to process the year that has been, so that Christmas is given its own fresh space before the dawn of the New Year. Allow the words to flow, without editing or second-guessing. Enjoy the process of putting jumbled thoughts on paper.

What were your highlights?

Were there certain achievements that stand out? Certain events that brought you satisfaction, pleasure, pride? Times of connection, love, friendship? Times when goals were met or surpassed? Occasions of drive, determination, of letting go, of acceptance?

What brought you joy? From the big to the small, from people to activities to possessions – what features in your 2021 highlights reel?

What were your greatest challenges?

Covid is the initial obvious answer to this, and all that has come with it – spending the first third of the year in lockdown, and most of it with some sorts of restrictions, springs to mind as being a major challenge of 2021.

But life outside of Covid has been happening too, and that naturally has brought its own obstacles. What have you struggled with? Internally, interpersonally, professionally? What, if anything, has pushed you to the brink in terms of energy requirements or emotional challenge?

What got you through?

Were there elements of your daily routine that you leant on? Is it a case of ‘who’ got you through, rather than ‘what?’ Reflect on the people and things in your life that gave you hope and comfort, offered you compassion and empathy, were reliable, solid supports, and encouraged you in times of difficulty. 

How grateful are you for these? Can you say that you offered these things to yourself this year?

Based on the year just gone, what do you need?

Taking this space to ask yourself the important question – what do I need? It’s different to what do you want, because we don’t always want what’s good for us.

What do you need in order to thrive next year? Is that time? Space? Support? Specific health changes? A new direction? A career change? An increased effort in certain areas of your life?

What do you need in order to feel unrestricted, at ease, alive, rather than numb and indifferent to the day to day mundane?

Based on the year just gone,

what do you choose?

It’s not always easy to choose change. We can see and know and acknowledge what we need to do to move forward with purpose and positivity, but creating those new pathways in the brain to create new habits is not easy.

We need to choose to do so, again and again every day.

What do you choose to change? What do you choose to keep in your life? How do you choose to feel? Because, while all emotions are human and natural, we do have a choice around which ones to further engage with and grow through our actions.

Christmas week is chaos, madness, but it can also be a time to reflect and process. Grab an opportunity to do so, and use it to inform your next steps.


Dr Michelle O'Driscoll is a pharmacist, researcher and founder of InTuition, a health and wellness education company. Her research lies in the area of mental health education, and through InTuition she delivers health promotion workshops to corporate and academic organisations nationally. See intuition.ie

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