Dear Janice, how can I get out of the rut I am in? It’s the start of another year which everyone looks forward to, but not me.

It’s nothing to do with all the Covid restrictions because I’ve been feeling this way for years. I don’t like where I live, my neighbours ignore me, I hate my job, and I am single.

It all seems so depressing and overwhelming and I don’t know where to start. 

How can I change my life? Gordon.

Dear Gordon, you seem to have the world on your shoulders, but at least you recognise the need for change. By far the best way to tackle any mammoth task is to break it down.

If every aspect of “your whole life” is a problem, then no wonder you struggle to get off the starting block.

Write a list of the things you want to change and decide to focus on the one area troubling you most. I suspect it is your job.

Believe it or not, there are actually lots of jobs out there. Perhaps not the kind of work you are used to, but now seems the time to break into something completely different. This can be daunting, but a new job brings new friends, new relationships, and new experiences, so trust me, positive changes will start to happen.

More often than not, when one area of our life improves, other issues don’t seem quite as bad. Perhaps your neighbours just see an angry guy and want to avoid conflict, so try and get to know them before you think about uprooting yourself.

Yes, you’re single, but a happier you will have a greater chance of attracting a partner, so starting with small steps (even if they turn out not to be the right ones) is better than stagnating and procrastinating. And Gordon, don’t underestimate the effect lockdown has had on people, it may not be the cause of your situation, but it certainly won’t have helped. 2022 might just be your year. Go for it!

Dear Janice, over the last 18 months I have put on weight and have only just realised how big I really am.

I am totally disgusted when I look in the mirror and can’t believe how much I have let myself go. 

My husband has mentioned my weight a few times and every time I have ripped his head off, and now I feel bad.

I’m too embarrassed to join the gym or any other kind of club, so where do I start? Allyson.

Dear Allyson, trust me, you are not alone. Many people have piled on the pounds for a number of reasons. Comfort eating, stress or lack of exercise (even lockdown has meant no daily walk to work for some).

Most people just don’t realise how easy it is to put on weight. All it takes is for you to consume a few hundred calories a day more than you are burning off and hey presto, you’re up a clothes size.

Every gym advert only shows slim, toned, fit people, but the reality is very different, so you certainly wouldn’t be out of place. However, if that seems too much to handle at this stage then simply walk, walk, walk. It’s free, on your doorstep, and convenient.

Bin all junk food and snacks and learn how to prepare healthy low-fat food. Cut down on alcohol too as it is just “empty calories”. One thing that helped me exercise more was to buddy up with a friend. Set regular dates and times together and I guarantee you’ll achieve so much more than if you’re alone. 

Good luck in achieving the new you. Oh, and an apology to your hubby might not go amiss either.

Dear Janice, I am sure I am not the only one who dreads the weekends. Out with my part time job I am lonely.

I’m in my early 60s and friends have passed away, or are ill with various health problems, and the ones who are fit enough are busy with their own families. Mine live abroad.

I don’t have a lot of money, so need to watch how I spend the little I have. I have no motivation for anything and can’t see how my life can improve. Can you? Anna.

Dear Anna, yes I can. But firstly I advise you to pay a visit to your GP to check if you are suffering from depression. Depression tends to steal our motivation and energy, so this needs to be addressed.

It’s easy to spiral downwards when you have no motivation or goals, so perhaps try and set some. It doesn’t need to be a skydive, just options and opportunities. 

Anna, there are hundreds of charities which would welcome your help at the weekend. This would cost you nothing but reward you plenty. Join a walking group which again costs nothing other than your transport and a flask of tea. You’ll have company, exercise and fresh air for free. 

Adults can lose confidence due to ageism, and seeing friends pass away or being ill has no doubt affected your confidence, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

But, to improve your life you need to start somewhere, so this week’s task is to set one goal and make one call, then watch the changes. Good luck. 

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