You might be feeling anxious about the impending year or completely full of bliss at the idea of a new beginning. Regardless of which state you’re in, self-care is a must this year.
What is self-care anyways?
Self-care is the daily practice of filling your emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical cups in order to be the best person you can be, so that you can better serve others.
Whether or not that’s the true definition, I’m not sure, but for the sake of this post, we’re going to stick with it.
Why do I need to practice it?
Because. You just have to. Do you want to live a better and fuller life? Do you want to take control of what you can and be happier, healthier, more grounded, and giving? I’ll let you take some time to answer those questions and decide what it is you want from this life. Write it down. Then come back to this post and we’ll talk about how to get started.
Where do I begin?
Great question. Now, self-care is really subjective, right? It’s doing for you what is best and that can mean so many things. But here’s a place to start. This is what’s worked for me.
First, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for all of the crummy things you’ve done. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Forgive yourself for not hitting those goals you’ve set. Then forgive others. Over and over again, because just as you aren’t perfect, neither are they. With forgiveness comes freedom.
Here are a couple examples of what forgiveness might look like:
- Dear me (aka Maria), I forgive you for stuffing your face on NYE and then feeling like a bloated whale the entire next day. Be grateful for the fact that you have access to food and you don’t have a broken jaw or something that would hinder you from chewing. Relish in the bloat.
- Dear person who slashed my tire, I forgive you for your reckless act. I’m sure you didn’t really mean it and the knife just kinda fell out of your pocket and landed on the side of my tire. Plus side, I have a shiny new tire. #upgrade
Some people like living their lives as if it’s a fresh new canvas with no guidelines or boundaries. I don’t like that. Well, I do like the fresh new beginning, but I also love structure. If you’re like me, building in rituals and routines to your day can help with that feeling of control and reduce stress levels. The trick is learning to accept that some things are out of your control and you should be malleable in a way so that when the plan changes, you can change with it. That’s the beauty of life, right?
Here are some ways I’ve built routine into my daily life:
- Morning gym workouts. It sucks at first, but the more you do it, the better you’ll feel. You kickstart your day off on the right foot. You have energy that lasts throughout the day. And you have something to look forward to before the day begins. I highly recommend it. If you’re in Charlotte, I’ll join you!
- Calendar. I live and die by mine. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know which day it is or where I need to be. Keeping everything in one location (my phone) helps keep my stress levels down.
It’s called peace and quiet for a reason, right? I used to hate silence. I always needed music or a podcast playing. But now I’m realizing that just simply being in a quiet room helps my scattered thoughts come back to one central location. Like, for example, I’m writing this post in the silence. Taking the time to think when it’s quiet helps you mentally move in a forward direction and clean up all the garbage and harmful thoughts that have been swirling around in your brain all day.
Here are some things you can do when it’s quiet:
- Pray. My faith is a huge piece of my life and very important to me. Taking the time to pray when it’s quiet keeps me centered and grounded.
- Meditation. I used to think meditation was a buzz word and surrounded by unnecessary hoopla. Boy was I wrong. Meditation has helped me bring back derailed thoughts and it literally changes your brain. No better time than 2017 to give it a whirl.
This blog wouldn’t exist if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in the power of exercise and running. Running saved my life. I know getting in shape is always a top resolution in a new year, and besides being fit, exercise will make you stronger, happier, healthier, more sane (Still testing this one out. My friends and family would argue that I’m still the same level of crazy, but aren’t we all a little crazy? Right?).
Here’s a recent example of how running helped me:
- I’m not supposed to be running, but I ran a bit today on the track at the gym. Why? Because my were haywire (bloat induced). I knew if I could pound the pavement, even for just a little bit, I’d feel better. So I did and after 3 laps (and some Sam Smith playing), my thoughts were positive, I felt uplifted, and I was back to repeating my mantra of you run this day.
- Side note: I felt super awkward running. Like, I didn’t know what to do with my feet or legs. Has anyone experienced this after some time away?
What is your goal for this day? What helps me take care of me in my every day life, is setting an intention for the day. It’ll be something as simple as repeating the word, “Patience,” for example. And then I set that to be my goal for the day. Walking through life with a clearer picture helps reduce stress and keep you on the right path.
Here are some ways you can set intentions:
- Journaling. Write those thoughts down, y’all! There is power and therapy in the written word. You don’t have to share it with anyone, but it does help to untangle messy situations, track goals, and overall improve your life.
- Books and podcasts. There are so many great books and podcasts out there that help keep me motivated. I’m loving Earn Your Happy by Lori Harder at the moment.
Ugh, finances are the worst. Why can’t everyone just have copious amounts of money and we never have to worry about budgets ever again? In a perfect world, maybe, but Earth isn’t perfect, so we’ve got to take control. Imagine the stress reduction you’d have if you knew you were in control of your money and didn’t have to worry. Now, that’s some serious self-care.
Here are some ways I’m taking control of my finances:
- Budgets. Duh. But Mint.com makes it easy. You can create an account and connect it to your bank accounts/credit cards/whatever else you might have (student debt, for me), and track where your money is going. You can create goals and lots of mini budgets. I love it. (not a product endorsement… I do genuinely use and love it).
- Minimalism. My roommate and I recently did this great thing where we hoed out our apartment and got rid of all the stuff we didn’t need or use. What a great feeling! Moving forward, I’m going to be more conscientious of what I’m buying. Do I really need another pair of shoes from Target? Or more lotion? Or another book? Actually, books are always welcome.
This one’s pretty simple. Have fun. I often forget about the fun factor in life. Crazy, right? But when you are working and working hard to achieve your goals and your dreams, the hustle (I hate that term) becomes far too real. Even if it’s scheduled in fun, fun is fun. So go have some fun and burn some stress.
Here are some ways you can have fun:
- One time I googled “how to be funny.” I believe it helped me become funnier. Though, some people say they don’t get my jokes. I don’t get their lack of humor. But anyways, I just googled “how to have fun.” Give it a whirl. It’s a lot of fun.
- Surround yourself with good, loving, positive people, and they will show you how to have fun.
Happy New Year everyone! Here’s a fresh start!