It’s that time of year again. In a few days, we’ll be looking at the empty chocolate wrappers and feeling the self-loathing that only the post-Christmas comedown can deliver. But before you reach for the internet and sign yourself up for Fat Club, I want to tell you something.
You’re absolutely fine.
Just so we’re on the same page, please know that you’re fine. Awesome, in fact. You don’t need to be slimmer, fitter, wittier, richer, or more popular to be a brilliant human being. And there’s no magic weight / size / fitness level you reach where you can start feeling good about you. You can just start. Fact.
But maybe this year, instead of dragging ourselves into a small room to confess to that incident with the leftover brandy butter, I’d like to suggest 10 useful resolutions bound to make you feel good about you in 2019.
1. Activate your inner activist
Yes, it may feel like the country – and the world – is hanging by a thread at the moment. It is. But don’t give up hope. Whether you’re passionate about saving the environment, ending fracking, stopping fascism, banning hunting, fighting for disabled people’s rights or speaking out against inequality, you have a voice and you can use it. Get clued up, join a campaign, sign a petition: start making yourself heard.
2. Badger your MP to the point of being truly obnoxious
They work for us. But often, it can feel like they’re not listening at all. So why not make a resolution to write to your MP on the issues you care about? Better still, go and hang around their surgery until they pay attention. This isn’t about trolling, abusing or threatening. It’s about exercising your democratic right to have your elected representative stop guffblustering and start listening. And if they still won’t, don’t forget to register to vote and get them out of parliament at the first possible opportunity.
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3. Use your local community
Here’s a dirty little trick that our government seems keen on using: underfund public libraries, public transport and other public services to the point where nobody uses them and then say nobody wants them and either shut them down or sell them off. We have the power to stop this happening. We can use our local library, our local children’s centre. We can use local businesses and help protect local parks and public spaces. Again, the more visible we are, the more heard we are, the more we shout about the things that are important, the more difficult it is to take them away. So many people complain about library closures… who’ve never taken a book out in their lives.
4. Buy more food
Yep, that’s right. And yes, times are tough, belts are tightened and budgets are lean. But if you can, add a couple of extra tins and some dried goods onto your weekly shop and drop them into the foodbank on your way home. We want a better world, where nobody needs to use foodbanks at all. This is why we lobby, campaign and protest against austerity. But in the meantime, the Trussell Trust has handed out over a million emergency food supplies – nearly half a million to children – in the last year. If you can, please consider helping.
5. Reduce, refuse, reuse, recycle
With oceans choking and landfill reaching critical mass, it’s past time to get real about what we buy and what we waste. So in 2019, we should really try to buy only what we need. Make do, mend, and if all else fails, just avoid landfill like the plague. There are countless lovely swap, recycle, and free-to-collect groups on social media. If you can’t find one, consider starting one, like Cornwall’s CRAP group which The Canary reported on earlier in the year. You can, of course, sell all the stuff you don’t need, but you could also consider giving it away… one person’s crap is another’s treasure and all that.
6. Stop backing corporate tax thieves
Corporate tax dodging and exploitation enable massive multinationals to undercut local, UK-based businesses. This skews what we can actually afford and makes us believe we can own 15 pairs of shoes when actually, if we were paying a proper price, we’d be more in the two to three pairs bracket. But what they give out in discounts, they’re taking back – and more – from our infrastructure, public services, and workers. Corporation tax matters. If they’re not paying it, don’t fund them. The year my family gave up Amazon was an adjustment; but after we committed to buying local, small business and fair trade, it was a beautiful year. I ran a small business for three years. When people bought from us, they were buying shoes for my kids and food for our table. A popular meme on social media this year says: ‘When you buy from a local business, an actual person does a jig’. This is completely true. In 2019, make someone jig.
There’s nothing wrong with being fit and healthy, but you don’t need to pay for it. And there are ways to make it count. Dusting off your running shoes and getting out in the fresh air is free, easy, and you can literally start from the sofa. Whether you’re starting out with a C25K challenge or advancing to marathons, running gets you healthy and embeds you in the streets, dirt tracks, or meadows where you live. And once you’ve got some mud in your treads, maybe be brave and join the 10 million+ running loons who are raising money for charities in the hundreds of thousands of events taking place around the country. Check out Park Run for a free and regular event near you. It doesn’t matter how slow you are and how much you puff. You’re faster than all those folks still sitting on the couch.
8. Join a union
UN special rapporteur Philip Alston recently reported that the government’s austerity measures were particularly impacting the UK’s “working poor“. Workers’ rights are being eroded on all fronts. But there’s strength in numbers. If you’re in work, joining a union will give you greater bargaining power over pay and conditions, pensions, protection in redundancy, and contracts. You can find a full list of unions that are currently operating in the UK and read more about what unions are doing and achieving for UK workers.
9. Reach out
Loneliness, isolation and mental illness are sadly endemic in our austere and hostile Tory Britain. One in three people suffers from a mental illness. Homelessness is increasing at eye-watering levels. Many families won’t have had a merry Christmas this year for one reason or another. While we can wait (and fight) for a government that will bring true change to our communities, we can also look for ways to help in our own neighbourhoods. Whether it’s volunteering at your foodbank or shelter, or simply listening out for that friend or colleague who is saying ‘I’m fine’ and really isn’t, a more compassionate Britain starts with each of us. And if it’s you not feeling OK, please know you’re not alone. It is OK not to be OK, and if you need to speak to someone, please reach out.
10. Support indie media
By reading this, you are part of a vital movement for change. Just four billionaires dominate the UK media. And they’ve got no interest in disrupting the status quo. But independent media outlets like The Canary are working hard to bring you the other side of the story and the voices the mainstream either don’t want you to hear or simply aren’t interested in covering. We do it because we’re passionate about it, but we still need to live. We can’t do this without your support. So if you care about hearing the truth and holding the powerful to account, please consider supporting us this year.
Yes, it’s a bleak end to 2018. With Brexit chaos looming, climate breakdown upon us, rising fascism in Europe and throughout the world, and no sign of let-up yet in austerity and poverty in the UK, many of us will be happy to see the back of this year. But once we realise that we have power, just as we are, we can be an unstoppable force for change.
Featured Image via Pink Sherbert Photography / Wikicommons
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