Self care is a hot term, but it doesn’t only mean getting weekly manicures and massages: I want to help people do self care right, to actually help their physical and mental health in 2018.
For me, last year was totally nuts. I had personal loss with the illness and death of my father. I also had a record year professionally, which makes me really happy, but it came with a price – I worked many 16 hour days to make it happen. I took one day off all year – the day my dad died – and that was it. Otherwise, I worked from the pool in Florida, the woods in Montana, and on Christmas morning (which is right now, I’m writing this while watching the kids play with their new toys). I’ve leapt out of bed at 1am to write down an idea for a new blog post, and have laid awake worrying that some social media post wasn’t getting the engagement it was supposed to.
Clearly, I need to follow my own advice, so maybe we can do this all together.
Here’s what I think we should do; are you with me? Tell me in the comments how you plan on making changes this year to care for yourself better!
Say no more often.
I own my own business, so saying no to work is really hard when I depend on it to pay the bills. But sometimes I agree to do things that are just not worth the work, and I’m sure you do, too. I’m aiming to have less of those ‘why in the world did I agree to do this’ sort of moments this year. You should, too: It’s time to learn how to decline some of the things that don’t add value to our lives. Things that we know are more trouble than they’re worth, that we do out of habit or anxiety, not because we want to. For some of us, this means saying no to certain assignments, events, and get-togethers. To quote Sex and the City, if people are upset that you’re not there, they’re just going to have to get over it.
Release friends and others who drain us.
In my business, we say that if the dietitian is working harder than the client, it’s time to take a step back. Let’s extend that to our personal lives too, because we all have those friends who take a major toll on us with their drama and frankly, their bullshit. It’s fair to say that everyone needs a shoulder to cry on sometimes, but those people who always have a crisis? Who are constant victims? They suck the life out of us and it’s time to either create some distance from them or, to detach altogether.
It’s not your responsibility to fix other peoples’ lives or to be liable for their happiness; they need to do those things themselves. Stop enabling them and start giving that time and energy to yourself.
Stop killing ourselves with exercise.
Exercise, and being active in general, is essential for good physical and emotional health. I was always a four-times-a-week sort of person, but late this year I just became too tired to continue. Running became a chore, I was getting injured, and eventually got a case of bronchitis that stopped my exercise routine in its tracks for over a month. It was the first time in the last 10 years (besides when I was pregnant) that I gave myself permission to take an extended break from strenuous exercise. The thought that I HAD TO exercise was literally exhausting me over and above everything else I had gone through this year. I knew I had to let the pressure off myself and and deal with the consequences.
I thought I’d feel guilty, but turns out, I didn’t. I thought I’d gain weight, but I didn’t.
I’ll return to running eventually, but for now, I’m taking a gentler approach to activity: I’m walking instead of running. Instead of slogging away, I’m finding the activity more meditative, more enjoyable, and a heck of a lot easier on my body. For me, walking has always had the same effects – physical and mental – of running, it’s just that running is a lot more time efficient! No matter; I feel like I’m giving myself a gift each time I choose to walk for my health.
If you push yourself to work out to the point where you’re exhausted and feel like it’s a chore, consider taking a different, kinder mindset.
Stop trying to meet peoples’ expectations of you, and focus on what you expect from yourself.
I’m going to make a guess and say that at least 50% of what we do on a daily basis is done because of someone else’s expectations of us.
YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH THE WAY YOU ARE. Every time we try to change who we are to meet others’ expectations of us, it takes away from our lives and our happiness. What’s the point? Do you want to live for other people, or do you want to live for yourself? Realistically, will you ever measure up to those peoples’ vision of who you should be? Do you even want to? Why is that so important, and where are these expectations coming from? Do they ring true to you, or have they just been driven into your mind for years by people who aren’t happy with themselves? That’s where a lot of expectations come from: other peoples’ projections of their dissatisfaction with themselves. Don’t fall into the trap.
These are all meaningful questions, and another one is this: what do YOU expect from yourself? Are you a good person? A loving friend? Generous and intelligent? Live your truth, and live it proudly. The only person who you need to satisfy is yourself.
Give more to others.
Giving is not only good for the recipient, it’s also good for the giver!
We tend to be focused so much on ourselves, and our differences, our perceived shortcomings, and our own lives in general. It’s easy to forget that so many people are worse off, and they need our help. When we help others, it can create a tremendous sense of wellness and satisfaction in ourselves, as well as others. Even if it’s a small gesture – donating to a food bank, checking in on an elderly neighbor, or reading to a local kindergarten class – everybody wins.