Let’s face it, you didn’t do whatever you told yourself you’d do last year on the first of January. You probably told yourself you were going to go to the gym more, eat better, or watch less Netflix. All respectable goals, but are they too big? (It’s okay, I didn’t follow mine either!)
I’m here to suggest some little resolutions that might just make all the difference. While your previous resolutions were awesome and I’m happy you’re setting goals for yourself, I’d like you to set some realistic goals for self care.
“Self care?!” you say, rolling your eyes at my psychobabble terminology, “but I already take care of myself!” I know you do. I’m just suggesting some more specific goals.
Self care is literally taking care of yourself, except a little more detailed. It does not have to mean buying yourself expensive things, getting hot wax ripped off your body, or any other practice you go through to beautify yourself. It’s about choosing behaviors that balance your life – and emotional and physical stress. It’s more than just exercising, eating healthy foods, and getting enough sleep. It’s about practicing yoga, meditation, or relaxation techniques, abstaining from substances, pursuing creative outlets, and attending to your overall mental wellbeing. It can be free, and totally comprised of little things you change in your daily life. For me, self care means making myself go to sleep when I need to, instead of staying up glued to my phone. It means writing in my journal every night and scheduling meetings with my therapist. It means reminding myself to take a breath before I wolf down breakfast, and remembering to take my medications.
Self care is super simple, and can also be easily forgotten. Since self care is different for everyone, here are a few ideas you may want to integrate into your own self care for the new year!
Give yourself a bedtime!
I know it sounds childish, but think how many nights have you said “I’m going to sleep early” only to find yourself clicking that next episode button or pinning your thousandth pin, then realize it’s one in the morning? It doesn’t have to be every night, but try going to bed at a set time once or twice a week and see how you feel. Sleep is such a good way to care for your body and mind!
Give yourself a simple, do-able, routine.
I don’t know about you, but simply doing something I told myself I was going to do regularly makes me feel accomplished, no matter how small it is. Maybe it’s that you’re going to treat yourself to a coffee before your hardest class, or give yourself five more minutes in the morning to take a shower. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it is good for you!
Sit down while you ____.
Just simply take a break, or a breath. It could be sitting in a comfortable chair while you do your work, opting for a relaxing back instead of a quick, stressed shower, or taking a moment to sit down and enjoy your coffee rather than running to your first class. For me, recovering from my eating disordered past has prompted me to create a sit-down and relax routine around eating. This means setting my special place mat out, putting my phone to the side, and literally sitting down to eat. It sounds so simple, but it makes so much difference!
Check your planner daily.
This is important, especially if you’re an over committ-er like me. Take some time to ground yourself for the day, so nothing comes and hits you out of left field. Prepare yourself for what’s to come, your responsibilities, and your goals. Prioritize what’s important, and let go of what’s not important. Write down everything so you don’t have to stress about it. Be sure to make time for friends, activities, events, and yourself too!
Here’s something I really should practice: if you find that generally you take on more than you can handle, catch yourself, and say no to a new task that will stress you on. It’s really scary to say no, take it from a chronic work-a-holic, but sometimes people will respect you more if you do. If you’re overworked at your job, and your boss gives you a huge assignment, it may be helpful to let it go. You could say, “If you need me to specifically, I could do this, but I have some urgent priorities on my to do list, like this project, this report, and this assignment – so if I take on another big project, it may not be my best work, or done in time.” In my experience, people appreciate that you want do to a good job, rather than overwork yourself and have poor quality. Similarly, while it’s important to make time for friends, going to absolutely everything can feel like more stress than fun. If you’re over run with social responsibilities, don’t be afraid to pick favorites.
Where would a self care post be without mentioning masturbation? Masturbation is fantastic. Not just in how it feels, but also emotionally and physiologically! It can help you sleep, releases feel-good endorphins, increases circulation, increases your pain threshold, and is a super (and literal) stress reliever! Plus, it teaches you how you like to be touched, and it feels fucking great! Win win.
This topic is not related to the above topic, though you do you boo boo. Did you know that some scientists think you need 8 hugs a day to feel good? Humans have evolved to need oxytocin for their health and well being, which can be released by another human’s touch. It doesn’t have to be a full hug though. Just putting your hand on a loved one’s hand or touching their arm as they express emotion can help, too.
Everyone is different, and what I do may not be right for you. Before you start your own self-care routine, think – what makes you happy, that you can do JUST for you, to make you smile a little more each day? There are thousands of ideas out there, some already written down, and some floating around in your brain.
Happy New Years, and remember that sometimes, little goals are the most do-able – and lead to the biggest rewards.