Strengthening Routines in the New Year
For most of December, many of us have been rushing to meet deadlines, prepping for the end of the semester and preparing for the holidays as well the range of feelings that come along with them. We have already spoken about the fact that “self-care” can be an overused phrase, and that making the time and advocating for it has its challenges. More times than we can count there have been some feelings of guilt or shame for practicing self-care in lieu of some of the demands of everyday life. Don’t you just love how a practice that is intended to fill your bucket, makes it feel at times that it is actually emptying it… We hope that as this month is winding down we can provide some simple tools and resources that can support you in the intentional process of taking care of yourself in the New Year!
Self Care Tip #1: Strengthen Sleep Hygiene
Getting a good night’s rest is one of the most important practices we can do to maintain optimal physical, mental, and professional health. Sufficient rest is absolutely essential to be functional at the highest level of productivity, but we know that at times it feels as though there are a ton of things that feel like they get in the way of getting more shut-eye. Let these tips offer a guide to increasing your ability to put your sleep higher up on your to-do list.
- Pick one night this week and commit to going to bed at a certain time. Identify a person in your life who can hold you accountable. Set a reminder on your phone for 15 minutes beforehand so you are prepared.
- On this day, avoid caffeine after 12 pm. Avoid screens 60-90 minutes prior to your selected bedtime.
- Don’t bring work or food into bed; make sure it is completely cleared of any items that aren’t pillows or blankets and wear pajamas or comfortable clothes that are only worn as pajamas.
- Choose a relaxing wind-down activity to do before bed (listening to music, guided meditation, reading a book or completing a breathing exercise)
- If successful, explore what you would need to make this happen more often. If you struggle, explore what you believe is getting in the way and consider what steps you would need to take to remove those barriers.
Self Care Tip #2: Practice Self-Reflection
Self-reflection can be a very powerful improvement tool in both your personal and professional life. On a daily basis, we have experiences that whether big or small leave an impact on our lives. Reflecting is our ability to think back, step away to observe and take stock of our experiences and learn from them. Trouble is that it is an intentional practice that we need to put a little time into to get the full benefit. Here are a few things that can you use to help you grow this process into a regular practice.
- Reflect on your experiences.
Think about what you did, what you thought and what you felt at that moment.
- Reflect on what you learned.
Pull apart your experience and compare it to the values and expectations that you have (or want to have) for yourself.
- Apply it to your life.
Implement what you learned in your practice. Think about what options you have the next time you face a scenario like this.
Self Care Tip #3: Practice Gratitude
Evidence is increasingly showing that the act of practicing gratitude is an effective way to improve our overall well being. If you are open to holding this practice for yourself, try the following and take note of any impact you experience:
- At both the beginning and end of your workday, take a few minutes and identify at least one thing you are grateful for.
- Every day, think of at least one person you are grateful for and take a moment to express your gratitude for this person (even through a simple text message). You can start with those close to you and slowly branch out to expressing your gratitude to those who are or have been “inspirational” in your life.
- Advocate for your spaces (home, work, community) to craft a forum where you and others can express gratitude to one another. This could be facilitated in so many creative ways because it is at your discretion. Anything from a gratitude circle to a bulletin board where people post anonymous thank you notes. Take the lead in starting the movement.
Want to learn more? The Science of Gratitude
While I am not one of those who pushes traditional ‘New Year’s Resolutions,’ I am all for themes and ideas that will assist people in better supporting themselves and their development. In that spirit, please take a look at these 50 common resolutions as they also come with some ideas about how to get started, which is usually the hard part. I hope these as well as some of your own serve you well!