Even if you’re not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, you have to admit a new calendar year makes you reflect on what you’d love to embrace, and leave behind, in the coming months. 2016 was such a supercharged year, one can only speculate what the next twelve months will hold on a global scale, but one thing’s for sure: You have the power to make self care a priority this year.
For a lot of women, self-care is fraught with mental images of selfish or self-indulgent behavior that forgets about everyone else. That’s far from what I mean when I use the term. I imagine women who are balanced and strong with a solid understanding of what it means to be authentic, healthy (inside and out) and happy. The exact details of what makes us “authentic, healthy and happy” are going to be different for each of us, but it is there for the taking, if we prioritize it.
What are some of the ways we can enter 2017 with self-care at the forefront of our mind? Here’s my list to inspire you. Make your own, according to your needs, of course. And if you’re comfortable with it, share your list with a close friend, or write it in your journal so you have proof that you promised to make time for yourself this year.
Exercise: Can I see a show of hands? Who here starts out strong with an exercise commitment and then lets it wane by February - March, if you’re really determined? I actually enjoy exercising. The high I feel after a Zumba class or the soul-calm I get from a brisk walk in the woods can make my entire day better. So why is it so darn hard to be consistent? Because I let everything else drown out that time. So I’m determined to pay for a six-month pass to a local dance/yoga studio and put the dates on my calendar now. There’s nothing I hate more than being indecisive about exercise except wasting my hard-earned money. If exercise is where you need to embrace self-care, how will you do it this year?
Sleep: Work is one of those things that I can lose myself in for hours. Because I genuinely enjoy what I do, I forget to do little things like, oh, sleep. Seriously, I can stay up until 2 A.M. “tweaking” something about the business. When I finally fall into bed, I’m too wound up to sleep. And then my skin suffers, my thoughts are foggy the next day and I’m so grouchy no one wants to be around me. This is definitely not the definition of self-care. My commitment to myself this year goes like this, “I will stop work at a reasonable hour and allow my brain to wind down before even stepping foot in the bedroom.” Wish me luck.
Mindfulness: As women, we brag about our unmatched ability to multitask. We juggle so many things, literally and figuratively, at once that we don’t even realize we’re doing it half the time. But recent studies show that the idea of multitasking is actually a myth. The more things we try to do, the more we tax our brains, and then we don’t do any of the tasks as well as if we’d focused on just one. This is an area where I need extra help. I downloaded an app to my phone called, MindBell. It sounds like a lovely singing bowl that rings at either pre-determined intervals or randomly. I just downloaded it a few days ago and I can’t tell you how amazing it’s been already. It disrupts me whenever I’m in the middle of crazy and reminds me to recenter. I’ll be using this throughout 2017 until I can train myself to be fully present and to do one thing at a time. Could you use tools to keep you present and focused in 2017?
Skincare: Taking care of my skin has always been important to me, but as I get older, being vigilant about sunscreen is top of list. I’ve also realized that the solutions I used for skin issues ten years ago aren’t the solutions I need today. Making sure my skin has enough moisture and preventing collagen degradation are vital after 40. So in 2017, I’m going to look at serious anti-aging options and use the best products for nourishing my skin. I’m going to drink my eight ounces of water and get enough sleep (yes, I know I already said this. I really need to keep reminding myself). Because looking and feeling good are the pinnacles of self-care.
Want more discussions about self-care from experts? Here’s a list of TedTalks on the subject.