Practicing Self-Care in the New Year
Happy New Year! As we settle into the month of January, reflection on the year before and dreams of the year ahead are the focus for many. Discussion of “be better” and “do more” goals, resolutions, tasks, and dreams are floating around in the minds of many.
What if we instead focused on goals that center on ways we can better engage in a self-care practice? What if we tried taking care of ourselves, exactly as we are, and made sure that we managed the things that are present in our everyday lives, today, in the moment?
In all the self-care conversations, research, and TED Talks, we find ideas for successful self-care, as well as what self-care is and is not. Surveys seem to indicate that most people agree that self-care is both important and valuable. However, at the same time, many people report that they don’t have time for it or that they struggle to put themselves before the many other tasks at hand.
Key Areas of Self-Care
There are many ways to think about self-care and how to take care of ourselves. Sometimes, hearing what works for someone more personally can be helpful. So, in case that is helpful to you, I will share what I do personally, as well as in the work I do (that is, what I teach to clients). I frequently break this into four specific areas:
1. Eating and nutrition
We all get busy and overwhelmed and maybe our nutrition suffers. So, I like to take account of my nutrition. I say to myself: Taking care of my body means eating in a way that supports my life and is also something I enjoy. When I notice my stress sneaking up, I like to double-check this area of my life, and I teach this same idea to my clients. This may mean, for some of my clients, making sure that they are adhering to their meal plan and working closely with their dietitian.
When my sleep suffers, I am more irritable, more distracted, and not as capable of being present in my life. Ensuring that I am sleeping enough and sleeping well means I need to pay attention to my sleep hygiene, bedtime routines, and the hour I wake. Noticing this area, accounting for it, and keeping it in check for me is part of my self-care.
I love to go on a walk with the dog, my kids, or alone. Getting a few minutes to stretch is part of my self-care. Movement can also include other things and people. For me, it is easy to let this go first. When I do, I notice that other pieces of my regular self-care fall apart. Movement doesn’t have to be a lot, but thinking about your body and your health in this way can also be an easy way to think about self-care.
4. Inter and intra-personal relationships
Spending time with a friend or chatting on the phone with friends or family who live far away can be the kind of self-care you need as well. Finding people who really know me and who I can share life with are very important in my self-care. Intra-personal practice for me often takes the form of meditation, a few moments of a guided meditation, and a few moments of journaling. These things allow me to connect with my inner self and assess how I am really doing and what I need to do to make sure I feel good and balanced each day.
Self-Care as a Daily Practice
Practicing self-care should not be a daunting task. All you need is five minutes to take a stretch break, walk outside and soak up the sun, or even do a short guided meditation. Do not wait until you are at the point of breaking to take care of yourself. Good self-care is a daily practice. By taking actions daily, this will not only improve your overall wellbeing but also help to prevent those bad days from being even worse. With proper self-care, you will be a little better equipped to handle all the different things that life may throw at you.
About the Author
Krista Crotty, LMFT, PsyD, is the Director of Clinical Outreach Education. Clinically she draws from a variety of methods including TBT-S, EMDR, cognitive behavioral therapy, FBT, and acceptance and commitment therapy and often incorporates the use of the creative process in conjunction with the more traditional therapeutic process. She earned her Masters of Science from Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Psychology and her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in family and pediatrics from Azusa Pacific University. She trained at Harbor UCLA medical center and Loma Linda Children’s Hospital in neuropsych. Away from work, Krista loves being a mom to her three boys, playing outside, going on adventures with her family, skiing, hiking, biking, and camping.