Saying goodbye to 2021: 5 lessons this year has taught me

I sit writing this from my sofa, surrounded by extra-large Kleenex tissues, a box of Sudafed and a Terry's chocolate orange, and if that doesn't sum up my Christmas this year then I don't know what does!

Instead of unwrapping presents on Christmas morning I was staring at four, very clear, red lines on two lateral flow tests that I had begrudgingly taken (after having a negative result all week), so that obviously meant my plans were ruined. I know a LOT of us were in the same boat this year, so I hope that if you also had to spend Christmas in isolation that you didn't let yourself go down with the ship and were able to make the most out of a crappy situation. It's safe to say that after a long week, a few tears and scrolling Tik Tok endlessly out of boredom, I am SO ready to kiss COVID and 2021 goodbye! SO, instead of dwelling on how rubbish this year has been, I thought it would be better to share some lessons 2021 has taught me, so that we can at least take something good from this year right?!

1. It's okay to cry over spilt milk...literally

You're allowed to have a meltdown over a burnt piece of toast, stubbing your toe or smashing a glass (all of which I have done within the past few weeks, that burnt piece of toast really did me in, let me tell you!). Life is hard, the working week is hard and sometimes, these little things are the straw that broke the camel's back and that's okay. You're not being silly and you're not being dramatic. Don't forget that you are only human and it's okay to have a cry. Sometimes we get knocked down, just don't stay down, pick yourself back up and refocus. Mop up that milk girl, you've got this!

2. Not everything needs a plan

It's like there is a switch in my brain that turns on as soon as a trip gets booked, leaving me feeling irritated and let down when the restaurant I wanted to go to is fully booked, the place I wanted to visit is in a completely different part of town to where we are staying, or the hotel I'd seen a few weeks ago is now twice the price. Truth is, I set my expectations too high in the first place and I'm left with disappointment when reality doesn't match up. A trip away doesn't necessarily need a restaurant booked for every night and an event to go to everyday. Sure, it's nice to have things planned, but when it ruins the excitement of going away, for me, it isn't worth it. I am learning to go with the flow and roll with the punches, enjoy myself in the moment and embrace the uncertainty. If you experience 'planning guilt'* then you should try it too!

*The feeling of guilt that arises when you haven't got a full itinerary planned for your next trip!

3. Put myself first

I do a lot for other people, and I always will, that's just how I'm wired. If you need me, I'm there! You can rely on me, there's no question about it. I'll change my plans to make your life easier and I'll drive 20 minutes out of my way to help you out with an errand, you don't have to ask me twice. But lately, I feel a little burnt out from putting everyone else first. I think it's time to make myself a priority in 2022, without feeling guilty for it. If I don't have time to grab you some milk on my way home, I won't fret about it and If I can't make it to yours for 4pm because that time suits YOU best, I won't panic and change my other plans, we'll re-arrange for another day. It really isn't the be all and end all! I will always be there for anyone that needs me in the best way I can, but I need to be here for myself too because I'm lacking in the self-love department and if I can't be there for myself, then I'm no good for anyone! So, I'll be loving you, but leaving your milk at the shop for you to get yourself, sorry!

4. Rationalize before reacting

Too often are the moments where my boyfriend leaves a sock on the floor and I flip my lid because the washing basket is less than a metre away. Over the past few months, I have really tried to just stop, take a second, assess the situation and move on. It's not that deep, we haven't got ourselves 2319! (If you know, you know) it's just a sock. It's too easy to react without reason, leaving yourself feeling guilty for starting an argument over something that didn't need an overreaction. I say overreaction because my feelings are still valid, and my boyfriend leaving his washing all over the bedroom when placing them into the washing basket would be just as easy as dropping them on the floor, is extremely irritating (said boyfriend, take note) but my reaction should be mindful, because making us both feel bad won't help. I can honestly say that taking a few extra seconds to rationalize (whatever the situation may be) has saved me from many a bad mood, and I'm all for it!

5. Health over weight loss

Recently, I joined the gym so that I could go swimming. My dad used to take me swimming every Sunday when I was little and I loved it, so when my dad mentioned he had joined the gym, I did too, and now we go for an early morning swim three times a week! The 6:30am wakeup call is surprisingly easy, because I'm getting up for something that I know I enjoy. It's relaxing, I look forward to it and it sets me up for a good day. I am no longer focusing on losing weight, it isn't my main goal. I'm waking up earlier because it makes me feel good, I'm swimming because it makes me feel good and I'm making more conscious food choices because it makes me feel good. My body is moving more than it used to, and my lifestyle is a little healthier. Losing weight will be a nice bonus, but there is no pressure, and that's how it should be. Health comes first.

It's time to focus on health and happiness in 2022, and (finally) buying a house! There are exciting times ahead and new memories to be made! So, whilst I'm devouring a Chinese takeaway and having a few drinks over FaceTime with friends this evening (for the second year running) I'll be giving myself a pat on the back for taking some good out of 2021, and when the clock strikes 12, I will GLADLY kiss it goodbye!

What are some positive things you will be taking from 2021?! And if your plans are more exciting than mine this New Year's Eve, I would love to hear about them!

- Ellie Olivia Xx My diary is also now open again so, drop me a message if you need me to whip you up some great copy in 2022!

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