The Importance of Self-Care

Happy New Year! Anyone else feel like 2018 went by in a flash? Like, crazy fast, right? It's true, January 1st is technically "just another day." But the annual marker also allows us to reflect on the past year...and look forward to the next with a bit of purpose and mindfulness. What did we do in 2018? And what do we want to do in 2019?

Self-care for me, and perhaps many of you, can be elusive. Packing lunches, checking homework, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, and the list goes on and on. Soon, I find myself falling to the very bottom of the priority list. The result? Frustration, fatigue, and a bit of resentment. You know those flight safety videos that tell you to put your mask on before helping others? There's something to that! I find when I'm in a good state of mind (and body!) that I am most useful to others.

So, I try to remember to take a bit of time just for myself, even if it's a minute here and there. In this new year, let's resolve together to practice self-care more often. Here are just a few things you can do to make a difference to the most important person in the world: you.

1. Schedule ME time. I've found that if it's not in my calendar, I won't do it. If you're like me, you may need to schedule time in your calendar - even if it's 10 minutes a week - to do something just for you. A massage? Quiet time? A walk? A nap? Anything that makes you focus inwards will help you be more mindful of your needs and will ultimately make you happier.

2. Exercise. It's no secret that exercise is good for your mind, body and soul. Exercise can take many forms, so don't assume it's a 90-minute hot yoga class or a 45-minute run. It can also be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking around the block after dinner, or doing a 7-minute workout. Everyone's got seven minutes somewhere, right?

3. Nourish yourself. Food can be the ultimate self-care strategy, as you only have this one body to feed. I'm not suggesting you change your entire diet tomorrow. But small wins, like trading one sweetened beverage for water during the day or helping yourself to an extra portion of veggies at dinner, can add up to better health today and down the road.

4. Set realistic goals. As a kid, you always hear adults say, "Dream big!" And while that's generally good advice, big changes generally don't happen without small ones. Example: if you resolve to work out five times per week after being largely sedentary for years, that goal may be difficult to achieve. Setting yourself up for failure will lead to, well, failure...physically and psychologically. So, do yourself a favor, and use some of that ME time to set start, realistic goals.

5. Ask for help. So many of us have a hard time asking for help and feel inadequate if we do. As a result, we are running ourselves ragged trying to get it all done. Even this short list...where do you start? Start by asking your loved ones for help. "I need 30-minutes Tuesdays and Thursdays after work, so I'm going to need help getting dinner on the table." "I need your help keeping our fridge stocked with ready-to-eat veggies, so please add them to your weekly grocery list." "When I close my bedroom door, I'm going to need your help respecting my quiet time."

Here's to a healthy, happy 2019!

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