Your Best You in the New Year
Now that we’re well-entrenched in January, it’s time to check in with how you’re treating yourself. Why? The turn of the calendar over to a new year often brings about pressure on one’s self to improve, to be better than the year before. While there’s nothing at all inherently wrong with that notion, the concept of New Year’s Resolutions can be problematic for many.
Resolutions can carry outside, external pressures, feelings that you have to make a change because everyone else is, or into adopting a certain resolution because it’s trendy or all the buzz. How many stories have you heard about people buying into gym memberships, or a new elliptical for the home, at great expense, only to let either sit unused after three weeks? The scheduling of a new resolution can also be an issue. Just because we hit January 1st doesn’t mean that you are necessarily ready, mentally or physically, to take on whatever challenge you’ve laid out in front of you. Sometimes, resolutions fail because people work out too vigorously after a lengthy period of disuse, causing those muscles to ache, leading them to give up on their commitments faster.
What 'Should' You Do?
So, after all this prologue, you might be asking yourself, ‘what is the best way to be approaching the new year?’
First of all, there is no best way. Because everyone is an individual and your best way might not, and probably won’t, be what is best for someone else. And anyone who tells you that you “should” do x, y, and z in the new year is just putting unnecessary pressure on you. The only “should” is that you should look after yourself in the way that’s the best for you.
One of the ways to look after yourself is through gratitude. Studies are increasingly showing that focusing on the positive things in your life, and giving back, have profound effects on mental health. People who take time to reflect on the good things in their lives, focus on small positive increments of change rather than trying to do too much too fast, and give back to their communities through even minimal efforts of volunteerism are found to generally be happier and have fewer mental health concerns than their counterparts.
Another way to look after yourself in this hectic back-to-work, post-vacation, can’t-wait-til-summer time is to unplug a bit more. We all need to take a break from being constantly accessible, constantly dialled into the web, with the resultant heightened senses from immediate gratification and blue lights a-blazing. Getting some downtime away from our screens means that your natural melatonin levels can reset, you will feel more rested, and your mental health can balance out. After all, much research has shown that the downsides to being on social media all the time include decreased self-esteem because we compare ourselves to others, decreased sleep from either staying online too long or having the blue light affect our melatonin, and decreased physical activity, which means we are then not getting enough exercise with its natural release of endorphins, and possibly less fresh air!
So, no matter how you have resolved to take good care of yourself this year, be certain to give yourself time to pause, reflect, and relax away from screens. Your mind and body will thank you and you’ll feel more prepared to tackle the other tasks and projects in your life.