I dislike the traditional "resolution" that feels full of pressure and bound to fail. For the past few years I’ve refused to set resolutions. I’ve been working to simply let go of last year’s baggage and remind myself what’s important as one year transitions into the next.
So, What is important? I can’t tell you how many emails I have received this past month assuring me that buying this, eating that, and waking up extra early and starting my day with "___" will change my life and make 2019 the Best Year Ever". Can’t someone just send me an email and remind me to listen a bit more closely to my heart in this new year? Give me permission to take more naps! Maybe someone could tell me every day to be more compassionate to myself?… Or, remind me to reach out for support when I feel overwhelmed and lost?
Please, tell me that my to-do list is not nearly as important as connecting meaningfully with the people and activities that fill my soul. That going out to eat is actually a fine way to avoid the stress of shopping, making dinner, and cleaning for a night. Remind me that my body is incredible – it does SO MUCH for me and I don’t need to deny it food or schedule early morning spinning classes to make it flatter/sleeker/more toned in this new year.
Maybe I have to be that person. The one who writes; you’re already doing a whole hell of a lot, so do less and sleep more!! A growing body of data is proving that adequate sleep (7+ hours regularly) will improve nearly every aspect of your life. But, you probably already know this, you feel it. That your need for more sleep is vast and that when you’re able to care for your sleep, you feel better inside and out. When you feel better and have more energy you are able to be more productive, present, truly grateful, and supportive of yourself and others. And isn’t that what is really Important?
For those of us who struggle with this concept, here’s a list of some ways you can support self-care and compassion in 2019:
Set an early bedtime – and keep it. I’m like a chicken with my head cut off the hour before bed, trying to tie up all the lose ends of the day while also trying to anticipate the new threads of tomorrow. Despite my distracted, pressured rushing at the end of my day I always fail to do it all. Because, that’s actually impossible. But if we think of "leaving things undone" as a Zen art form, then I think it will really empower us to hold rest sacred and just lay down when our body and mind is tired.
Put The Screen Down – our electronics addiction is not just in the way of better sleep, but it’s in the way of our ability to interact with the meaningful aspects of our real world. It gets in the way of parenting all the time, I notice my worst parenting moments are born of the moments that I’m helping my clients when I should be helping my kids. Create times each day where you will put your phone down and stick to it.
Invest in Relaxation – call your favorite massage therapist, acupuncturist, or other body worker and set aside some time and money dedicated to healing your body and resting your mind. Make an appointment each month for the next 3-5 months so that you can create a commitment, not just a one-time thing.
Take a Nap, it’s Okay! – I recommend a 20 minute power nap sometime between 1 and 4pm on the days that you’re feeling tired and unproductive in the afternoon. Have your favorite invigorating beverage ready when you awaken, so that you can dive back in and get stuff done.
Move Your Body – if naps are not your thing, get moving. Do a yoga inversion, turn on some tunes and dance, take a walk, anything to get your blood flowing and your energy shifting.
Say NO – It’s hard to resist your Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) and say no. But when we learn to say yes to the things that really serve us, we must learn to say no to the things that don’t. Don’t clear your calendar, just start with two obligations you DO NOT need hanging over your head. What activity or relationship causes you to feel rushed or anxious as you prepare for it each week or month? I realized that my child’s 30 minute afternoon swim lesson caused my day to be stressful and I decided to say no it next month. Did we miss splashing with our friends in the pool? Yes. Did we miss the stress of the packed parking lot, being late, showering in those terrible slippery stalls, dressing a wet baby, traffic coming home, late dinner, which led to late bedtime? Nope, didn’t miss that a bit, and have not looked back in 4 years.
Know When To Call a Pro – Sometimes, you just get in over your head. Wether it’s childcare help, anxiety counseling, physical therapy, or sleep hygiene issues, there are some problems that cannot be solved alone. When your work, marriage, or health is hurting and DIY methods are not working don’t wait – reach out. Ask someone you trust for references for a free consultation with a professional that can help you. And then, let them help you. (This likely means making an investment of time, energy and money so that you can get it done!)
NOTE: Any caring professional (From Housekeeper to Oncologist) will meet with you for free and let you know how they are qualified to help you. I may or may not have consulted with 4 dentists when we moved to Portland.
New habits take practice and commitment, and for most of us it takes serious dedication to do less. My hint is to find someone else who is searching for less stress and more self-care so that you can hold each-other accountable and celebrate sweetness together. Avoid overwhelm by picking just two activities that call out to you and commit to a few weeks of practice before you take on the next challenge.