Happy 2017! With the new year comes a plethora of articles and posts titled ‘New Year New You’. For some, the changing of the year means you need to reinvent yourself. I’m willing to bet you’re pretty awesome just the way you are. I mean, you can reinvent yourself if you want. But I’m guessing that you don’t need to become a whole new person. Even in the teen movies when someone tries to become somebody else we learn in the end they were great just the way they were. So instead of ‘New Year, New Year’ why not ‘New Year, Same Awesome You’?!
Sure, there maybe be things you want to focus on 2017. Maybe you want to be better at managing your money. Maybe you want to get to the gym more. Maybe you want to get a promotion at work. But you probably don’t need to overhaul your entire life to the point of becoming a completely different person.
We evolve over time not over night. The change of the year doesn’t mean you’re different. It just marks a point in time. Wanting to become a brand new person in new year can backfire.
Making multiple changes at once can spread yourself too thin. This makes it hard for you to do one thing really well because you’re trying to focus on many different things you want to change about yourself. Instead, try working on one thing at a time.
Making multiple changes about yourself at once can take you away from who you are towards a person that those close to you don’t recognize. That can be good or bad, depending on the before and after you.
Making multiple changes at once makes your believe you’re not good enough. No one likes feeling like they’re not good enough. And they should never have to because it’s a lie. You might not be the best chef, accountant, astronaut but that doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. And even if you are the best at something, chances are it’s temporary. It’s just a matter of time before someone who is better than you at the thing comes along and takes your place. If you’re too tied to that identity, you are going to handle being dethroned very well.
When there is no light at the end of the tunnel, what is the point in trying. In college I managed a before and after school recreation program for school-aged kids. One thing I learned is that when you are continually being reprimanded and disciplined there comes a point where you’ve dug such a deep whole that it appears you’ll never get out. And when you get to that point, it seems easier to stop trying because it will take too much effort just to get back to the starting point.
If we think we need to change so many things about ourselves, it can be exhausting. Then the thought of changing anything, even if it’s one small thing can seem insurmountable. At that point, why even try.
Trying to change too many things leads to more black and white or all or nothing thinking. By that I mean, there is no progress. Instead we look at it as we’re either achieving it or we’re not. With this kind of thinking it’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t see an immediate improvement.
It’s easy to think that you’re not good enough, smart enough, rich enough, happy enough. Social media can make us easily feel like that. When we see other people’s amazing lives on social media it can make us feel inferior. People show us what they want us to see. And generally what they want us to see is the highlight reel of their lives. We don’t see their sink full of dishes or messy house. We don’t see them struggling. All we see is their amazing vacation. Their perfect family photos that took hours to get right but made it look like it was effortless.
Rather than worrying about what you need to change about yourself why not think of ways to take care of yourself. I know this analogy is overused, but you know when the flight attendants go through the spiel about but your air mask on first before you help others? Well that’s the same in life.
For the record, I heard this analogy just recently on Teen Mom 2. I love that show! One of the therapists was trying to explain to one of the teen moms the importance of taking care of yourself. Basically take care of yourself so you can better take care of others. I’m summing this up way better than they did on the show.
What can you do to take better care of yourself?
Get more sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, if you’re 18-64 years old, you need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. When was the last time you got that much sleep on a regular basis? I go in spurts where I’m really good about getting enough sleep. Then I follow it up with days where I short myself on sleep. Insufficient sleep doesn’t just affect our mood. It can cause us to make poor decisions, make is harder for us to retain information, and cause problems throughout our body according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Stay hydrated. I’m the worst when it comes to drinking water. I’m not a fan because water is just so watery. Unfortunately it takes a migraine or a kidney stone to remind me that I need to consume more water. And by that time it’s too late. But I keep trying. Because I know that the more water I drink the better I’ll feel.
De-stress. We’re all being pulled a billion different directions on any given day. Family, work, social life, volunteer commitments, religious community, extracurricular activities. There are so many demands on us. At some point, we need to take a break from it all.
What helps you de-stress may be different than what helps me de-stress. Here are some things I use to fight off stress.
Walk at the dog park. I love going to the dog park. It gives me the chance to get outside. I also like that the dog park has trails where I can get away from people or gathering areas where you can hang out and socialize.
Get a massage. I love getting a massage when I can find the right massage therapist. I had a bad experience with a massage where it triggered a migraine and I threw up on the car ride home. TMI? Probably. But I do love getting a massage when it’s done right. It’s a great way to relax and it feels so dang good.
Quiet time to reflect. I need quiet time each day where I can reflect on things. It’s similar to meditation but I’m not structured about it the way meditation is.
- Get a facial or other spa treatment
- Guided meditation
- Silent retreat
- Connect with someone
- Get fresh air and sunshine
- Eat healthy
Have fun. In addition, to trying to reduce stress in your life, find time to do the things you enjoy. Again, these things may vary from person to person. Here are some suggestions:
- See a movie
- See a play
- Go to a concert
- Take a workout class
- Try out a new restaurant
- Take a day trip
- Take an art class
- Make jewelry
- Explore a new part of town
- Check out a brewery, distillery, or winery
- Host a game night
- Go dancing or take a dance lesson
The new year is a good opportunity to reinvent yourself. But it’s a better time to take care of yourself. You’re awesome the way you are. Take care of yourself and let others see that.
How do you like to take care of yourself?