“I’m going to take better care of myself this year.”
“I’m joining a gym.”
“I’m going to eat better.”
“I’m going to learn how to meditate.”
“I’m going to treat myself to a massage every month.”
…Sound familiar? Resolution time! New Year, New You, right? But wait…cheese tastes good. So does beer. And cinnamon buns. And it’s too cold to go to the gym. And my mind’s too much of a jumble to meditate. And the holidays really took a toll on my wallet…and I really don’t have time…
January 17th is the “official” (I really don’t know who the governing body is on this) Ditch Your Resolutions Day…the day when, on average, we give up on all those great ideas that sounded so simple, so doable, so resolute, at the turn of the year. If any of your goals for this year included amping up your self-care practices, however, allow me to make an argument for sticking with them.
In terms of priorities, your health and well-being should be at the very top. Chances are, it’s not. It’s not for a lot of people. Life comes at you pretty fast, and a lot of the time you spend your days taking care of everything and everyone else: family, work, meals, household chores, and if you have enough time to watch the news for 20 minutes before dropping exhausted into bed you count that as a win. But if you keep doing this, day after day, month after month, you deplete yourself of the energy you need to function 100 per cent. This can lead to chronic fatigue, irritability, digestive issues, sleep disorders, depression, a lowered immune system that allows for colds and flu to take hold and last longer than they normally should, et cetera.
The first rule of survival on an airplane when the oxygen masks drop: put your own mask on first before helping those around you.
In other words, take care of you. If you don’t, you are no good to anyone else.
Don’t say you don’t have time. You do. Getting up 10 minutes early to do some light stretches or yoga, or even a little meditation in the form of sitting still and taking some nice deep breaths before starting your day? Doable. Taking a 20-minute walk through the neighborhood with the dog after dinner? Completely reasonable. Spending 30 minutes on a day off to re-vamp your grocery list for some quick healthy meals for the week? Do it while you’re waiting for your laundry to finish drying. And bodywork? Set aside $20 a week that you would normally spend on coffee or snacks, and at the end of each month you have enough to get a massage. Schedule it at the beginning of the month so that you have something to look forward to. Write it into your planner so that you make your plans around that time. Above all, give yourself permission to feel good about taking care of yourself this way. Put your own mask on first.
Is this as easy as it sounds? Yes, and no. It’s a change of mindset. It’s a baby step, giving yourself those precious minutes, and a big step, putting yourself at the top of the hierarchy. Is it worth it? Absolutely. You’ll agree when you start noticing you have more positive energy, less stress, less pain, fewer sick days. It will become easier to tell those around you, “I need 20 minutes to myself.”
Don’t ditch your self-care resolutions. Make them work for you, well beyond January 17th.