However much I’ve delayed it, the inevitable has come. The holidays are over. 2017 is here. We are back to normal, whatever that means. Now what?
It seems the current theme in my life has been around wellness and overall health. I talk about this a lot with my everyday clients, stressing the importance of caring for oneself in order to better care for others, especially their babies. My family and I are living in different places/countries and we all worry for one another. A recent loss of a loved one, so dear and so young, was a strong reminder of the importance of staying well in order to stay together longer. I realized I have neglected heeding the same advice in caring for my own self.
Just over this week’s study session, Alex was encouraging me to say, “I am a good test taker” out loud and I couldn’t bring myself to say it! I kept laughing it off thinking it was much “too silly.” I find I would rather cheer Alex on (or nag HIM to deliver self-affirmations) any day than do it myself. It shouldn’t have to be so hard!
To that end, perhaps my biggest endeavor to date is to show more love in the world by working to love myself more first. It can be overwhelming to look at the mirror and make an effort to appreciate the person that’s looking back; but I know I’d have so much more to give if I had a heart and a spirit with more than enough to fill another.
So I sat down and came up with some simple personal reminders and commitments. I kept them easy yet purposeful so that I can keep a steady pace, no matter how slow, and achieve greater long-term success. The best part? The five steps below won’t cost a thing!
Five Simple Steps toward a Better Loved and More Loving Self
- Get some fresh air.And do it often. This time of the year can be harsh for a lot of people. Most of us leave for work before the sun is out and clock out well after the sun has set. It’s cold. Resolutions may not be going as planned. Feelings of restlessness, frustration, and poor habits may arise. I know I’m not the most pleasant person to be around when I’m feeling cooped up, much less after long stretches of time. A little sunshine and breath of fresh air can go a long way.
- Make those steps count.I’ll fill you in on a secret. A BIG reason why I’ve grown an obsession for dining al fresco is because I needed to get off my bum. When I’m not driving or at my work desk, I land straight on the couch when I get home. I would completely let myself go if I didn’t do anything to break the habit. Since I’m not athletic or a gym-goer, I needed something that I could integrate into my set routines to improve them. I figured, I needed to eat at some point, right? Going some place I could walk to became a big motivator for me, even if it was just to walk around the park and then grab a coffee. Now that I’m getting used to feeling good about the walking (and how many steps I took thanks to my step tracker), I often enjoy it without needing a treat! As a bonus, these strolls have become treasured moments when Alex and I can unplug, talk about anything and everything under the sun, and turn into local tourists within our own city. If it’s rainy or WAY too cold, I search for a simple video online (I’ve been on a yoga-at-home kick) and do what I can.
- Allow yourself some ME time. This looks different for everybody and that is perfectly okay! Meditate, reflect, journal, doodle, pray. It took me a while and some misses to really internalize what brings me joy rather than looking to others. Try something old or something new. Perhaps you always loved playing the guitar but haven’t dusted off your strings in a while? Or remember when you used to sketch or watch a movie to reset? Why not visit your happy place again? To me, it depends on what I’m searching for at the time. I try to doodle or write to get my creative juices flowing. I pause to pray when I’m extremely stressed. Take the time to find what works for you, and then allow yourself even just a few minutes (5 to 10 could be plenty!) to take care of you.
- Get some good sleep Break down your sleep habits, maybe even take notes everyday, to evaluate what helps you sleep better and what hurts it. This might also look different to different people whether your body craves 5 hours or 8 hours of sleep. My step tracker helps monitor my sleep (though most phones these days do as well) and I’ve learned that extended screen time right before I close my eyes make me restless overnight. In fact, I’ve learned to eliminate my laptop from the bedroom so that I have greater separation between work and rest (hello workaholic). More work doesn’t necessarily mean more productive. I was waking up with less energy and disorganized. Coffee is great short term (don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan) but sleep is a free option to get you some energy for the day ahead, seal those memories and newly learned/developing skills in your brain, and consequently improve your long-term health.
- Keep good people/energy around.Let’s face it, it’s hard and often impossible to do everything on your own. It takes a village to raise a child, they say. I believe it takes a village to love yourself, too. Check out the bigger and smaller communities around you that can help you explore all the parts of yourself that need nurturing. You may prefer volunteering, a book club, faith-based groups, or a health and fitness group. If there’s an app for that, chances are, there’s a group for that too. Depending on what’s a priority for you with the time that you have, you may find that some groups/commitments are worth keeping over others. Alex and I had to start from scratch, but now we have a network that fit both our lives together and our individual needs. We have friends and resources surrounding us to draw motivation from and keep us accountable in supportive ways.
I hope this sparks an idea or two in you and that we can share in this journey together! Be good to yourself, ESPECIALLY when the going gets tough. Know that this is a process, and every little milestone is worth celebrating! I may not do all of the above every single day, but I do try to plan and look forward to the next time I can work on my best self.
What do you do that’s the same or different from this list? Feel free to share tips/advice with me! WE GOT THIS.