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Self-Care in the New Year: How to Put Yourself First

The close of the year has got us in a self-reflecting mood. This year has been a bit different for all of us, but we’re still evaluating what we’ve accomplished and where we want to go next year. Too often, however, resolutions involve making physical changes to ourselves. What if instead of focusing on what we or others perceive as broken or needing to be fixed, we focus on embracing and loving where we are right now? What kind of tone would that set for the new year?

Let’s make 2021 the year of self-care: the year where we throw out expectations, dance around in our underwear and spend less time worrying about what our body looks like. Let’s see it for what it is – a marvel that helps us navigate the world. Let’s focus on counting every memory and not counting a single calorie. Surround yourself with comfort, confidence and color as you focus on enriching experiences that don’t involve changing who you are. Self-care in the new year means self-acceptance, and here are some ways to get that done.

1. Silence Social Media

Social media helps us connect with long-lost acquaintances and far-away friends and family, but it also has a negative side. Too much scrolling through accounts obsessed with one body type can be detrimental to our mental health. Without realizing it, you’re setting yourself up to feel less than and shamed.

Going through your feed and unfollowing accounts whose sole focus is body size may be enough to cure the social media shame. Accounts that trigger you may not just focus on weight or size. Maybe they feature unhealthy relationships with food or a preoccupation with wealth and material things. Whatever your trigger is, comb through your feed and get rid of anything that makes you feel minimized or not good enough.

Maybe it’s time to try a digital detox and get off social media altogether. This is a personal choice but putting away the phone frees you up to focus on yourself and your loved ones in real life. It lets you spend more time pursuing what brings you joy and less time questioning whether your choices live up to other people’s standards. If you need motivation, check out Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport or How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell. Give it a try and see how it improves your life.

2. Wear What You Love Right Now

Have you ever tried cleaning out your closet only to hold on to various clothing items that don’t fit now but may one day? Maybe it’s the jeans you wore in college or a top from before you had children. While there is nothing inherently wrong with holding on to these items, this mindset reinforces that where you are right now is not good enough, and there’s a better body waiting for you. Thinking this way means you will never be happy in your skin.

Combating this is as simple as letting go of those pieces of clothing. They have no bearing on your beauty, confidence or sex appeal. Only keep items in your closet that fit you well. If after cleaning out your closet your wardrobe is sparse, it’s time for a shopping trip! Treat yourself to clothing that fits your curves and makes you feel confident no matter what size the label reads. Ignore what’s in style or what you “should” wear for your body type. If you love a crop top, then rock it. Dress for yourself and no one else.

3. Celebrate Your Imperfections

From scars to lumps, imperfections make us unique and stand out from the crowd. It’s OK to be different, and it’s OK to celebrate these differences. What if you didn’t hide your freckles with makeup?. What if you wore the skintight top that makes you feel like a queen? Embrace what makes you unique and highlight it unapologetically!

4. Slow Down and Listen

Do you ever sit in a quiet room and listen to your thoughts? If you’ve never done this, we highly recommend it. No distractions and no interruptions, only your thoughts to guide you. Listen to what you’re feeling. Reflect on the day’s or week’s happenings and evaluate your role. Check in with yourself so that you can make adjustments or feel confident with the path you’re on. This may be easier for introverts, who tend to feel at peace when they’re alone, but an extrovert can benefit as well. Slowing down and listening can result in more engagement and energy in your life.

This is in essence practicing mindfulness, which is a heightened state of awareness that helps you stay present in the moment. You can practice it when doing just about anything: talking to a friend, exercising, driving, eating, etc. It’s a way of being in tune with your thoughts and emotions and soaking in every experience. With mindfulness, it’s also important not to judge your thoughts and feelings. Acknowledge them, accept them and continue moving forward on your mindful journey.

5. Say No – and Say It Often

Part of listening to yourself is figuring out what sparks joy and what doesn’t. Saying no to things that don’t feel right can be very difficult for some people, but it’s necessary for self-care. People pleasers will spread themselves thin saying yes to things that benefit others and not themselves. There is nothing wrong with helping a friend in need, but if you find yourself filling most of your time doing things for people who may not be worth the effort, then you probably need to practice saying no.

6. Find What Stresses You and Avoid It

Life without stress is impossible to achieve, but we can minimize the stress in our life to live a more fulfilling existence. Anxiety is a real condition brought on by stress that can have physical manifestations. Reducing anxiety can have a significantly positive impact on your quality of life. Understanding what causes stress and anxiety is the first step to reducing it.

Maybe an aspect of your job is a huge stressor. Finding a different role or speaking to your boss about ways to improve your position could be beneficial. Maybe a toxic relationship with a friend or family member is the cause of the stress. If talking it out or counseling isn’t an option, removing yourself from the relationship may be the only solution.

7. Fill Your Days With What You Love

It may seem like a no-brainer but filling your days with things you love is the best form of self-care. Whether it’s reading a book or taking a walk outside, make sure you carve out time for yourself every day. Incorporate the activities that bring you happiness. There will always be things that we must do daily that aren’t enjoyable. However, when you counteract those things with activities you love, you’ll achieve much-needed balance in your life. Let’s make 2021 the year of self-care.

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