What to Do After the Ball Drops: Caring for Yourself in 2016

Emotional Well-Being

What to Do After the Ball Drops: Caring for Yourself in 2016

It’s that time of year again. Time for fresh starts, new beginnings, and making sure you remember to finish writing the date with a ’16.

Whether you love the idea of the ball dropping on a clean slate, or fall asleep before midnight without a thought to resolutions, you can learn to use the power of each new day for motivation to make changes that are most important to you.

For many people, the new year starts with resolve to make a change. Unfortunately, most people lose that resolve before the first buds of spring appear on their favorite trees. Often people go wrong by setting a goal and failing to connect with why it really matters to them. Others find themselves resorting to old habits and give up their new found resolve.  

This month DiabetesSisters will focus on self-care. As mothers, sisters, employees, daughters and friends – no matter what roles you value in your life – if you are like most women you give more of yourself than you can afford to. Have you ever felt pulled in too many directions? If you think about what truly matters to you, what could be more important than improving how you care for yourself each day?

Consider the quote from author and activist Parker Palmer, “self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”

Self-Care MapThere are numerous behaviors that fall into the category of self-care. What is most important to you? Take a moment and think about what you do to care for yourself right now.

I recall a time in my life when one of my professors asked me this very question. I thought for a long moment about my 60-hour work week, course work, and lack of exercise and responded, “well, I take long hot showers every day.” At the time, I actually thought that was a pretty good answer! I relished in those showers! Unimpressed, my professor let me know that I had a long way to go before I should even consider helping others. I needed to take some time to care for myself.

Whether your idea of self-care is committing to more than a 15-minute shower, or improving an area that has long gone neglected, there are a few ways to make sure your new commitments engage you past the spring thaw.

Remind yourself that improving your self-care is a journey, not a destination. You will still set specific goals, but you’ll never be finished taking care of yourself. This is something you commit to, and re-commit to, each moment. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Better than Before says that in this way most resolutions are more like habits. Thinking of these changes as new habits reinforces the idea of a new journey.   

Select self-care goals that are meaningful to you, and realistic. Would you like to commit to having more time for yoga, walks, reading, or manicures? Remind yourself why this matters and be specific about how often you will commit to this new goal of self-care. Ask yourself, “why is self-care important to me? If I think about my life, what area of self-care is most important? Which area is most neglected?”

Consider the challenges, and make a game plan. Think about any time in the past when you have set personal goals and then abandoned them. Was it too many other commitments? Did you feel selfish? Were you discouraged by others in your life? Whatever the barriers, you need to have a plan for how you will face them this time around.

Disengage from Polly Perfection. Caring for yourself is an ongoing process. Just like caring for your diabetes, caring for yourself is something you do each and every day. Some days you might feel you did a good job, other days you might feel like you put yourself last. Rather than judge yourself – practice self-compassion as part of your self-care. This will allow you to re-commit to caring for yourself sans guilt and disappointment.

Good luck improving your daily self-care, and remembering to write the date correctly in the new year!