Lean into self-care
Self-care is different for everyone. Here are five self-care exercises to help you make yourself a top priority in 2021. Pick one or try them all.
Give yourself the best hours of your day: Dr. Groppel often advises customers to plan a typical day from dawn to bedtime. You probably sleep about eight hours – but how do you spend the other 16 hours? List the time you spend preparing meals, doing your job, shopping, watching TV, doing laundry, helping kids with homework, taking care of an aging parent, and reading emails
Next, Dr. Groppel: In what period of one or two hours each day do you feel best? Your most energetic? Your most productive? Now look at your list, he says. Who gets these lessons? Instead, try to give yourself this time.
Treating yourself to the best part of your day doesn’t mean taking a two-hour break from life. It means focusing on your priorities, not others. You can use that hour or two for whatever you want – maybe a hobby, a work project you feel passionate about, spending time with your kids, or even volunteering and helping others. Giving yourself time each day to focus on your personal goals and values is the ultimate form of self-care.
Choose a word of the year: Pick a single word that describes the goals, values, or sentiment you want to set for 2021. Last year, Dr. McGonigal used the word “vitality”. “I had no idea how relevant it would be,” she said. This year she is thinking about choosing the word dance “because of all the meanings dance has for me personally, in relation to celebration, community and courage.” Your word can be anything that is important to you: community, family, exercise, love, health, energy. Use your word as a mini mantra throughout the year to remind yourself that self-care is a priority.
Create a rest plan: If you are caring for an aging parent, a sick spouse, or a disabled child, self-sufficiency is likely to be impossible. Finding time for exercise, spiritual support, or just plain fun is easier said than done. If you leave it to chance, there will be no self-care. For this reason, it’s important to create a family vacation plan that outlines your needs and wants, as well as the types of help other people can provide. Call a family reunion or call your friends. Tell everyone what you need – don’t expect them to automatically know how to help. The AARP advocacy group has guidelines for creating a care plan.
Help someone else: Our bodies and minds benefit in many ways when we help others. Studies show that a strong sense of purpose protects us from stress in the short term and predicts better health in the long term. If traditional forms of self-care feel too self-centered to you, think about how good it can be for you to help others. “It’s also a feeling of responsibility to make a difference if you can,” said Dr. McGonigal. “Was I campaigning for something this year that could have made a difference? Have I allowed myself to participate in this process that is bigger than myself? “