My new year’s resolution: self-care (in small pieces)
By: Jennifer November, ND
January 1. Time to exercise more, eat healthier, drink more water, drink less alcohol, read more, less television… I’m already over it. What’s the deal behind new year’s resolutions? Ultimately, these are the things that if we change them about ourselves, we believe will make us stellar human beings. Business Insider says that “80% of new years resolutions fail by February”. Is this because they are goals designed to make us appear better on the outside? Is it because they tend to be activities we don’t really enjoy? Is it because we already cram too much into our day that adding one more activity will make the bubble burst?
Yes. To all of the above, yes.
How do we get around the aforementioned red tape and really make our resolutions stick? Of course, there are the old standbys like sharing your plans with a friend to keep you accountable, or enrolling in a class so that you have to go.
But what if our resolutions, started small and built us up to people who felt the energy to take on larger goals like more exercise, healthier cooking, intellectual stimulation? What if our resolutions revolved around self-care and self-love?
Here are some examples:
Small self-care step #1: Take time to breath throughout the day
When times get stressful, take a conscious, deep breath and let it go. Breath deep into your belly and push the air out through your mouth. 5 seconds, maybe 6. Parasympathetic system activated; a small bit of stress released. Self-care activated.
Small self-care step #2: A few more steps
This from the Mayo Clinic: “research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.” (After writing that sentence, I got up and did a lap around the clinic where I practice.)
Segment your day into doing a task and then taking some steps. For example, write and send an email, and then walk for a drink of water. Next, work on that excel spreadsheet for 30 minutes, and then walk to the bathroom. Then, jump on that conference call, and then walk to chat with a friend. And, so on. Extra steps taken, stress reduced, self-care given, check!
Small self-care step #3: Positive talk
Isn’t it easy to pick out the negative parts of ourselves? Surprisingly, easy! What if, for the next day, you take notice of the negative talk, and flip it. Example: walking up the stairs you get out of breath. Negative thought: “wow, I am really out of shape!” Flip it to positive talk: “what a great way to get my heart rate up… I am a stair climbing rockstar!” See how easy that was? Now, extrapolate that to the rest of the year. Alright, this may all sound a bit flip, but the heart of the message is give yourself the LOVE that you deserve… EVERY day.
There are so many ways to achieve self-care and self-love. And the impacts are monumental. Start with small steps and they will carry you far into succeeding with this year’s larger resolutions.
Dr. Jennifer November is a naturopathic doctor currently practicing at Naturopathic Family Medicine in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. She believes in health empowerment and her patients playing an active role in their wellness. Dr. November enjoys working with patients of all ages, with particular focus on women’s health and preventative medicine. Treatment recommendations integrate diet and lifestyle modifications, botanicals, homeopathy, hydrotherapy and energetics.