Wednesday, January 17, 2018

6 Self-Care Resolutions to Make a Priority in 2018

We’re about halfway through the first month of a new year, and I’m sure a lot of people are still thinking about - or perhaps rethinking - their new year’s resolutions. There’s something about a new year that seems like a clean slate. You have high hopes for the next 365 days and you want to make plans, set goals, and possibly turn over a new leaf. For many people, those resolutions don’t last longer than a few weeks, but there’s one thing I hope each of us can do and stick with in 2018: proper self-care.

By now, we all know the importance of self-care. It's important no matter who you are or what you do, but it's especially important for people with any sort of mental or physical ailment. I say this as someone with depression and anxiety, who's often hard on herself for either doing too much or not doing enough. There has to be a balance and it's crucial to find that balance. With that in mind, here are 6 self-care resolutions I've made for 2018, and I hope you'll adopt some or all of them for yourself and make them part of your routine and lifestyle.

Less screen time
I say this as someone who practically lives with a screen in front of her face. I’m either on my computer, on my phone, or using my Kindle. Toward the end of last year, I dealt with a bout of nasty chronic headaches that were partly caused by bright screens and eye strain. By reducing screen time, you’ll not only be giving your eyes (and neck, back, and wrists) a break, you’ll also be minimizing distractions, plus who knows what kind of connections you might make or strengthen if your face isn’t buried in a phone all the time? Something I’ve started doing this year is setting my phone out of reach while I’m working so I won’t be tempted to check it every five minutes and end up lost in a loop of surfing Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Come on, we all do it. Now it's time to break the habit.

More outdoor time
I’ll admit, this isn’t something that’s easy for me. I work from home and tend to be a hermit. I live in an area with a lot of traffic and not much outdoor space, and while my city has a beautiful bayfront walking trail and park, it’s not accessible by bus and it’s too far away to walk there. Still, I know I need more fresh air, more exercise, and more sunshine, and I’m sure the same is true for many others. If you’re like me and you’re intent on living a more mindful life, connecting with nature could be a great way to clear your mind and focus on the present. Also, for those of you who have trouble sleeping, spending more time outside could end up being a great natural sleep aid.

Less worrying about what other people are doing
This applies to so many things: work, life, social media. Some people seem to have things so easy; they have the dream job, they get to travel, they’re madly in love with a wonderful person, they have a dream house, beautiful children - the list goes on. Just remember: 1) Nobody’s life is perfect. Even if someone’s life looks perfect from the outside, there are always things going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about, and in the case of social media, most people only post the highlights and exciting bits, and some of those things are contrived. 2) Everyone is different, and things happen for people at different times. Many of my friends are in relationships/married, have children, and/or have great jobs. There was a time when it bothered me seeing everyone having the life I wanted - or thought I wanted/should have - and couldn’t seem to achieve. Then I realized it wasn’t my time for those things, and if I continued to work hard, stay positive, and be myself, the things I want will eventually be a reality.

There are still days when I look at other writers and feel envious of their success. There are days when I open Instagram and feel a pit in my stomach because someone is visiting my dream country. I’ve worked hard at not letting these things get to me as much, and I’m going to continue doing that this year. One key bit of advice I’d like to give: if you follow someone on social media, whether you know them in real life or just online, and their life makes you feel bad about yourself - like genuinely bad, not just the occasional twinge of envy - unfollow them. There’s a difference between someone inspiring you and someone making you feel like shit about your own life. I follow several travel bloggers who I admire so much, and while I occasionally have a whiny moment of ‘Ugh, their life is so cool, they get to travel and see amazing things and get all these opportunities, it’s so unfair!’ it’s outweighed by being inspired to work harder and strive for more.

Basically, if someone or something affects your mental health, peace of mind, or puts you in a negative mindspace, eliminate it. Focus on your own life, your own goals, your own accomplishments. Be grateful for what you have while still reaching for the stars and going after what you want.

More exercise
Many of us probably have one similar thing on our list of new year’s resolutions that’s something along the lines of ‘exercise more’ or ‘eat healthier’ or ‘lose weight’. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just get or stay healthy, exercise is important. Many of us have jobs where we sit at our computers most of the day and then likely come home and sit on the couch the rest of the night. Even if you’re within a healthy weight range, all that sitting is having negative, unseen impacts on your health. Find something you enjoy doing (or if you seriously hate physical activity, at least find something you can tolerate!) and make it a habit. If you’re not used to exercising, start small and work your way up. Walk more, dance around your house, find videos on YouTube you can follow along with, start practicing yoga. If you need some motivation, join a class or find a workout buddy, or if you don't have anyone nearby to join you, find a friend online to be your accountability buddy.

If your goals are weight related, you might have to get a bit more specific with your goal setting. While I’ve learned to be more comfortable in my skin and more confident over the last couple of years, I most definitely need to lose weight for health reasons. That being said, I’m not focusing on numbers, because I know they're not always accurate. The scale changes based on a number of factors, especially for women (hello, hormones, how ya doing), so while I plan to do a monthly weigh-in, I know there are more important things than the number on the scale, like how I feel, how much energy I have, if my clothes are getting looser, etc. It’s perfectly fine to set a goal of ‘lose 20 pounds’ or ‘reach my goal weight’, but you need to take actionable steps, even if they’re baby steps at first. Look at your eating habits, look at your exercise habits, and see where changes can be made. Some people think of self-care as a psychological thing only, but it applies to physical health and all around well-being too!

Less Clutter
This is something that’s good to apply to all areas of your life: online, internally/mentally, and externally. Online: Unsubscribe from newsletters and blogs you never or rarely read. We all sign up for newsletters or blog emails we think will help us find great deals or have helpful information, or simply as a required step in a giveaway. If you aren’t finding value in the emails or they’re just cluttering up your inbox, hit the unsubscribe button. The same goes for what I was talking about before with unfollowing people. I'm sure we all follow some people online that we inevitably end up thinking 'why am I still following this person?' Maybe you initially enjoyed their posts, but your interests have changed over the years or they're posting different content that no longer applies to you. That's fine! We all grow and change, and not everyone is meant to stick around in your life. Mentally: Decluttering your mind can mean anything from a brain dump or to-do list to meditating to consciously changing your thought patterns to clearing your mind through creative endeavors. My mind often feels like my internet browser: way too many windows up and running at any given time. That’s something I definitely need to work on this year. Externally: Start your spring cleaning a bit early this year! Organize your space, streamline where you can, and create a space you love and that’s conducive to whatever it's intended for, whether it’s a work space or a relaxing area. Get rid of things you don’t need, no longer use, or that don’t work. If at all possible, try to do this in an environmentally conscious way by recycling, donating, or even selling items. I’m not saying to get rid of all your things; I’d be a complete hypocrite, because I live surrounded by books, Funko Pops, candles, and other miscellaneous things (check out my bookstagram to get an idea what I'm talking about), but they all have a place and are organized in an aesthetically pleasing way that makes me happy.

More creativity
Find something you love to do - writing, drawing, painting, a craft of some sort, photography - and do it. Creative endeavors can alternately challenge or relax you; figure out which works for you and make it part of your regular routine. Creating something can be incredibly therapeutic and freeing. If you have a job that involves being creative, try to find something different as a hobby that can keep you engaged and make you feel satisfied. For example, I write for a living, so while that’s challenging, satisfying, therapeutic, and a million other things rolled into one, I like to keep my creative juices flowing through photography, graphic design, and colouring. Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to get messy!

Whether you have a ‘new year, new you’ mentality or you’re simply looking to add more peace into your life in 2018, I hope you’ll find these self-care resolutions helpful. Remember that taking care of yourself should be a priority, no matter how busy you are.

Do you have specific self-care goals you want to make a priority this year?

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  1. Great goals. I need to be more active. It’s hard to remember how important it is for you.

    1. Thanks Jenny! It really is hard. Some days I'll look back and be like 'oh wow okay, I just sat around most of the day between my computer and the couch'. *cringe*

  2. I'm not one for clutter but can always improve on healthy eating and exercise, I have learned that small steps in the right direction help one from feeling overwhelmed.

  3. My outside time always drops in the winter. It's just too cold here! I should become a snowbird and move south for the winter.

  4. I liked reading through your tips. I feel like I have similar self-care resolutions this year, especially to get off my butt and be active!

  5. Great post, Marie, and great goals, too!


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