Five Simple Ways to Practice Self Care in the New Year
Rather than entering 2017 with the mentality, “new year, new me,” focus instead on taking care of the current you. Self care can be a tricky thing to manage amidst a busy schedule and daily responsibilities, but it is the most important responsibility of all. You owe it to your friends, family, and above all yourself to be the best that you can be.
Here are five easy ways to practice good self care this new year:
- Set aside “me time” every day, even if this means a brisk ten-minute walk or taking a break to read ten pages of a book. Finding time to let your mind rest lowers anxiety and stress levels that build up during the day. With a refreshed mind, you will be more productive when you return to your regularly scheduled activity.
- Invest in your passions. Think about what you love and start doing it. Learn woodworking on the weekends. Join a monthly poetry or reading group. Teach yourself a few magic tricks or maybe a foreign language. Having an identity outside of your daily priorities helps strengthen your sense of self. With work and family priorities, it can be challenging to find time to develop your own interests, but—unlike “me time”— passion building does not need to happen every day. Like you, it is a work-in-progress.
- Cultivate your relationships. Studies show that people with strong social support systems are happier and live longer. Spending time with friends and family isn’t just enjoyable, it’s also good for you!
- Make a realistic plan to take care of your body. Health-based New Year’s resolutions regularly fail because people set the bar too high. If you have gone to the gym once a month for the past year, it is unlikely that you will now go every single day. If you have been living on sandwiches during the week, perhaps it is not wise to suddenly cut bread out of your diet. Instead start out slowly, with a health routine that makes sense for you and fits into your schedule. Everybody is different and every body is too!
- Check in on your mental health by taking a quick, anonymous mental health assessment at www.sbhihelp.org. Oftentimes, we become so focused on staying physically healthy that we forget to pay attention to our emotional health. However, mental health directly impacts how we feel physically and our level of energy. Remaining healthy in the new year involves supporting all aspects of ourselves.
’Tis the Season(al Depression)
Winter blues getting you down? You’re not the only one. The winter months exacerbate mental health issues with limited hours of light and cold temperatures. Millions of Americans experience mood changes, heightened anxiety, and lack of energy during this time of year. January can be a hard time for many, as the holiday season ends and the monotonous gray weather drags on.
While the characteristics mentioned above are common, experiencing feelings of hopelessness at the same time each year might be a sign of seasonal depression. If the winter blues start inhibiting you from completing your normal activities, consider taking a mental health screening here.
Seasonal depression is treatable. Although it is hard to drag yourself out of bed on a cold winter’s day, getting regular exercise and spending time outdoors are forms of prevention. Some at-home yoga or a short trip outside could also brighten your mood.