2023 has come and gone and now we are in this new year of 2024! We have gone through many changes here at RMTC, including welcoming new staff and clinicians to our team and saying farewell to others. We have laughed together at events, grown professionally, and stood by each other. If you are like us, you may have reached the end of the year and asked yourself, “How did that happen so fast?” When life is moving quickly and you feel as though you can hardly keep up, it can be beneficial to take a moment to pause and reflect. This is especially important during transitional periods of life (like the start of a new year!)
If you are in search of the healing power of reflection you have come to the right place. Reflection can have many benefits for our mental health. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety, increase our self-awareness, help to provide emotional clarity, aid in self-control, and enhance our relationships and communication.
Megan Day, MSc, RP (Qualifying) says “It is convenient that we have this natural time built into the calendar year to pause and reflect with New Year’s. If life has been busy and you have placed things on autopilot as a way of managing, New Year’s is a perfect time to pause and reset.”
As we begin our own reflections at RMTC, we agree that there is no better time than a new year to begin the practice of reflection.
Here are some of the benefits of reflection:
Reflection is often done because we want to make sense of experiences, but it can also be used to practice and become informed in our decisions and develop a better understanding of ourselves (Edinburgh, 2019). This ability to build our self-awareness can become a cornerstone of personal growth and self-improvement.
Stress and Anxiety Reduction
The act of reflecting can be critical in helping us recognize what types of events and situations contribute to higher stress levels and anxiety for us as individuals. Often, the most troubling part of dealing with stress and anxiety is not being able to determine the cause. By practicing some reflection, we can work on improving our capacity for handling stress. When we become more capable of identifying things that are difficult for us, we immediately feel better equipped to face them head-on.
In a relationship context, reflection allows us to acknowledge our mistakes, make amends, and work towards healthy communication and change for the better (Sajid, 2023). Reflection also allows us to identify unhealthy patterns in our relationships and work towards transforming those patterns into healthy ones.
Self-reflection especially can help us to feel better equipped to tackle the challenges that we might face in relationships of all kinds. By knowing ourselves and reflecting on our desires and needs in our relationships we can begin to improve the way we communicate within those relationships.
In romantic relationships, it may be helpful to dedicate time together for reflection. Ask each other for feedback on the relationship and make the conscious choice to listen actively to one another.
During busy days it can be easy to find ourselves struggling to remember small details. You might find yourself forgetting what someone said or forgetting small tasks during the workday.
Reflection, even in our day-to-day can help us improve our memory for the little things and help us to enhance our capacity for information retention.
Reflection can seem like a daunting task for some of us, especially if we have had a difficult year. It is important to remember that reflection does not simply mean identifying things we have achieved or reflecting on past experiences, it can also mean examining our conscious thoughts and feelings about them (Reflection Psychology Group).
Katarina Guillen, MA, RP suggests that “when reflecting on the past year, it may be helpful to go beyond identifying the tasks you have completed or the goals you achieved. Consider beginning by identifying your values and priorities and then think of ways throughout this past year in which you have embodied those values and priorities.”
Taking the time to reflect could be the invaluable missing piece in your journey for self-improvement, and the New Year gives you a natural opportunity to look back on 2023 with a reflective lens. Try some intentional self-reflection and see what difference it makes for you!