Make 2022 all about you! We often use the New Year for reflections on the year previous, and for thinking of new goals for the next year. For 2022, why not make a goal for more self-care and taking care of yourself? Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or better one’s own health. We might think we do not have time, or that self-care is bubble baths and sweet treats, however, there are lots of ways, big and small, as well as multiple dimensions to self-care. It does not just have to be physical, but you can add in emotional, social, and environment self-care, or whatever realms of care speak to you and feel rejuvenating.
We can easily forget in the mayhem of life, especially when trying to take care of both ourselves and others, that the best way to take care of others, is to first take care of ourselves. To keep running efficiently, you have got to take care of your body. This means being mindful of what you are eating, how you are sleeping, how much you exercise, how often you are going to the doctor, and making managing your physical health a priority.
Life can get overwhelming, and without restoring our energy, we can hit that threshold for overwhelm, each time hitting that threshold quicker and quicker, and sometimes with more force. Handling our emotions is an important coping skill. Let me be clear, having emotions is not the problem, as they are important, all of them! Emotional self-care activities help to acknowledge and express your emotions and feelings and let you process them rather than cover them or deal with them at another time. This could be talking with a partner, friend, family, therapist, or solo activities to help process and work through your emotions.
We are all busy, which makes getting together with family and friends hard to do sometimes. It may seem like the best level of rest is to skip the last social gathering, and while that can be very true, sometimes seeing friends helps to fill our empty reserves from a go-go-go society. Close connections are important to our long-term well-being, and those relationships take time and effort. It is important to figure out your social needs. Some may need regular gatherings and phone calls; others may need a once-a-month hang.
Whatever the area, or all of the areas, that you are thinking of starting on with your self-care practice, take a little time to reflect and then plan. What works for your friend may not work for you, so do not get discouraged or compare. Customize your self-care to fit your needs, and do not feel like you must do it all at once. Start small. Reflect first on how you are feeling. Are you feeling energized, drained, sleepy, hungry, excited? Use that to start to think about what would help those feelings or alter them. If you are feeling drained, what self-care would be best for you – call a friend, go for a walk, grab a coffee, or take a mental break? Experiment with different practices to see what resonates with you the most, and see if there are ways to get that specific practice into your routine more regularly.
Maybe that means a once-a-day practice of gratitude or a mental break to repeat a personal mantra. Maybe it means a bath once a week, maybe it means a massage once a month, maybe it means a beverage with a friend on the way to or home from work. Whatever it looks like to you, try to get more self-care in 2022!
Kimberly Burke is a lecturer in the Department of Health and Exercise Science and the director of their Adult Fitness Program at Colorado State University. Adult Fitness offers exercise opportunities for employees of CSU as well as community members, while providing hands-on learning experiences for health promotion students. To learn more see the Adult Fitness Program website