How to begin 2019 with balance

At the start of a new year, it's tempting to write an enormous 'To Do' list and then panic about all the things we hope to get done, but we're more likely to achieve our dreams when we approach them from a place of peace and with a deep connection to ourselves

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At this time of year, we're bombarded with social media posts, blogs and workshops about setting intentions and getting clear on our hopes and dreams for 2019. I'm no exception - I'm hosting a few intention-setting workshops myself. I believe in setting intentions and having dreams. And I believe in taking steps towards our heart's desires. I wouldn't be a coach if I didn't.

However, the problem is we can wind ourselves up into a panic. 'Quick,' we think, 'I need to sort my life out immediately. All of it. In this first week of the year.'

Or is it just me who thinks that?

We get all stirred up, anxious, worried and stressed, and that isn't a good state to be in when we're trying to set intentions or plan our goals.

Stress, anxiety and excessive activity detach us from our true selves. We lose the connection with our heart, soul, spirit and intuition - a connection that's important when we're trying to work out what we want 2019 to bring.

We end up taking actions that are misaligned with our authentic selves or that prove to be counterproductive in the long run. We end up reacting rather than acting. We waste vital energy and resources on things that don't bring any benefit. We end up self-harming in some way: over-working; hurting ourselves while rushing; over-eating (all of which I've done).

So don't panic. Take a deep breath. You have enough time. Let go of control.

And before you rush headfirst into 2019 and frantically start scribbling your goals or taking actions to achieve them, try one, some or all of the following steps:


Meditation doesn't have to be complicated. Download a meditation app or search for a guided meditation on YouTube and sit still for 5, 10 or 15 minutes. Or play some soothing music and tune in to the words or to the notes. Try a walking meditation - in other words, walk mindfully. Notice the scenery; notice the feeling of the earth beneath your feet; notice how your muscles power you forwards; notice the colours, smells and sounds all around you.

Write or Draw

Take out a notebook and write freely. Write down your thoughts and feelings. Don't edit. Let the writing flow from your heart onto the paper. Or try drawing. Get some coloured pens or pencils and let them guide you around the page. What comes up for you? This is a great exercise to do after meditation because you'll be more connected to yourself and to your truth.

Take a bath

Showers are quick and convenient but baths allow us to slow down, relax and connect to our emotions. They also allow us to tune in to the feelings of guilt or shame that inevitably arise for some of us when we allow ourselves some time and space to relax, when we indulge ourselves a little, in the best sense of the world.

Go outdoors

Take a walk in nature. Breathe in the fresh air. Open your eyes wide and take in the big sky. I find being in nature helps me to put everything into perspective. I am very lucky to live close to the sea (although I give myself credit because I made it happen!) so I get to walk on the beach (and to swim in the sea) whenever I want. I was there this morning, walking along the beach and back before recording a video on how to move gently into the new year. You can watch it here.

Phone a friend

Sometimes I have to reach out to others in order to get in touch with my truth and to get to the bottom of how I really feel. Ring someone you're close to and share any anxiety you're feeling about the start of the new year.

Feel your feelings

All of the suggestions above are designed to help you to connect to your feelings. I spent much of my life avoiding my feelings - through binge eating, binge drinking, over-working and compulsive activity - so I'm pretty good at it. But I now know the importance of feeling my feelings in order to heal any pain. I'm not scared of my feelings anymore. They are my guide. So ask yourself, 'How am I feeling? How am I really feeling?' And allow yourself some space to feel.

Give yourself a break

If the first few days of this new year haven't gone to plan, don't stress! We get to start again every day. Don't be hard on yourself. Be gentle. Accept yourself as you are, with all your wonderful quirks.

I write this for myself as much as for you. We all deserve to be kind and compassionate to ourselves.

***Upcoming Events***

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Katherine Baldwin

Midlife Mentor, Dating & Relationships Coach, Author of 'How to Fall in Love'

I work with women and men who are ready to change their lives or careers and with those who want to find love. I guide people on a journey of inner transformation, similar to the journey I've been on. I know how it feels to be stuck in life and to be reluctantly single, and I know what it takes to change and find love. My book 'How to Fall in Love - A 10-Step Journey to the Heart' describes how I went from being a single woman, living in London, bored with my work and longing for a more fulfilling life to a woman in love, engaged to be married, living on the Dorset coast and doing work that makes my heart sing. I have been in recovery from an eating disorder, workaholism and dysfunctional relationship patterns for 14 years, during which time I've mentored and coached others on their journey to a healthier, happier life. I have a Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy Skills from the Westminster Pastoral Foundation. In my former life as a news journalist, I reported for Reuters from the Houses of Parliament and travelled with the prime minister. I climbed high but despite my external success, I felt empty inside. Since then, I've turned my life upside down in the best possible way. I work 1-2-1 and in groups, run workshops, courses and seaside retreats. I write for the national media and have appeared on radio and TV, most recently on Woman's Hour. I also speak to business leaders, students and school children about the importance of authenticity and of sharing our internal battles. I'm an advocate of wholehearted living. I do my best to walk the walk.