Photo Credit: Flickr User Paul Hocksenar
Ringing in a New Year can bring on some negative emotions. We may feel guilty for not doing enough for our families or remorseful that we didn’t accomplish last year’s resolution. These thoughts put a ton of pressure on the year ahead to be a fresh start or new beginning, but if we don’t make realistic goals to change the habits that are hurting us, we’ll never find the kind of happiness we’re really looking for.
So instead of making a New Year’s resolution to lose ten pounds or cut all carbs, I propose that we all adopt a goal for 2015 that helps us become emotionally healthier people. In order to do so, we need to ask ourselves some tough questions: What am I doing everyday just for me? What am I holding onto that’s consequently holding me back? What makes me feel good about myself?
Suddenly feeling more stressed out? That’s okay. In order to get you to the level of peace and happiness you want to be, I’ve got a few basic resolutions for your general well-being.
1. Make You Time
With spouses, families, jobs, school, and a hectic military lifestyle, it’s easy to forget about the most important person in your life (that would be you). But if you don’t take the time to nurture yourself, it’s impossible to nurture others. Even if you only set aside ten minutes a day to do something you truly want to do – read a book, practice yoga, watch Netflix, take a nap, etc. – you can still see big benefits. When you make yourself a priority, you’ll be a happier, and in turn, more helpful spouse, parent, friend, student and employee.
Not sure how you can possibly squeeze in some you time? Schedule it, just like you would a doctor’s appointment or your kid’s dance practice. Write it down in your planner or put it on your calendar as a weekly reoccurring event. And remember, you deserve it.
2. Let Go of Any Guilt
This is a big one for me. If I don’t go to the gym when I said I was going to, I feel guilty. If I spend Saturday afternoon lounging around rather than cleaning or getting chores done, I feel guilty. If I eat that ridiculously delicious piece of chocolate cake, I feel guilty.
Guilt is a consuming feeling, and it steals your ability to be present and happy with the here-and-now. Why not enjoy an afternoon glued to the couch, a night out with friends, or whatever seriously sugary snack your heart desires free of shame or remorse?
So next time you think, “I shouldn’t have eaten/drank/done that,” remind yourself that you’re pretty incredible and earned that afternoon nap. Let go of your inner critic and start treating yourself like a good friend. As my husband tells me, the world has enough mean people, so start being nice to yourself.
3. Love Your Body
We are taught from a young age to hate our bodies. Since I was in middle school, I was hyperaware of my flaws (stomach not flat enough, thighs too thick, arms too flabby) but couldn’t name one positive thing about my body. This type of self-criticism led me to a painful eating disorder, and the insecurities that came with it are something I still struggle with everyday.
How can we start valuing and one day loving our bodies when we’re flooded with images of photo-shopped celebrities and impossibly perfect Victoria’s Secret models? The first step is appreciating our bodies for what they can do as a whole – run, jump, nap, make love, etc. – rather than dissecting them into parts (i.e., boobs and butts) and categorizing those parts as good or bad.
Next time you look into the mirror and begin to tell yourself that you’re not skinny enough or athletic enough or curvy enough, stop and remind yourself how amazing your unique body is. You know all those compliments your spouse gives you about how sexy, beautiful, and perfect you look? They’re true.
4. Pick a New Hobby
When we’re little, we test out several hobbies or sports and are eager to try new things. From middle school to high school, I practiced two instruments, played softball, enrolled in theater camps, and took dance lessons. Now? Other than my once a week dance class, I’m pretty much hobby free, and that’s something I’m trying to change for 2015.
Adopting new hobbies can spark creativity, get us excited about life, and even lead to relaxation. Plus, we might discover a hidden talent if we open up our minds and test out new activities.
5. Practice Self-Care
North Carolina State University has my favorite definition for self-care: “active participation in enhancing the quality of your health.” As you can see all of these resolutions fall under this definition, but there are countless other ways to be good to yourself. I encourage you to explore what strategies do the most for you and stick with them. You might not see immediate results, but with time, self-care can have hugely positive effects on your life.
Some of my favorite options for self-care include: taking a long walk by yourself, taking a bubble-bath, looking at pictures from childhood, watching reruns of your favorite show, writing in a journal, going to therapy just because, and practicing meditation.
The list goes on and on, but I’m always looking for new ways to feel good about myself and am curious about what works for others. What will you try for the New Year?