It is 2024 and the calendar from last year has been taken down and our schedules are now being created for this brand new year. Do you notice so many white spaces? Do you notice the big margins? Did you stay awake over the holidays making marks on the calendar with ideas for vacations and etching in birthdays and noticing when the holidays would fall this upcoming year? Were you excited for what was to come or did you pause and stew on the audacity of Father Time to mock you with the new year, but same old, same old routine? Maybe in the back of your head, you had the intrusive thought that nothing was going to change and you feel stuck.
The truth of the matter is that both of those mindsets are true and as we stand at this juncture of letting go of the old year and embracing the new year, it can conjure up so many feelings of excitement as well as cautious about what is to come. Some of it is due to the cards life has flipped over to us at the table and some is due to the barrage of negative news cycles and we can feel out of control. Maybe you look around and wonder, how others find peace, harmony, and balance when everything feels off balance. How does it seem like everyone else has it all together but you?
I know how it feels to stand at the crossroads of a new year and have so many questions and wonder if I, myself, could be excited for what will be the same scenario in the new year which is: my husband is dead due to poor mental health. I have faced 12 months between the beginning of one year and the next to live in the awareness of grief with the intrusive thought that everyone’s life will go on, but I am frozen in time.
We know that life is complicated and it is no wonder that 1 in 5 of us grapples with the harmonization of our mind, body, and spirit with self-care, staying stuck in intrusive thoughts or worrying about how someone else is living their best life is a way of not moving on with our own. For me, to be able to flip the calendar year absent of dread and loneliness, I had to dig deep into self-care. I did so because that is what my husband, in the end, could not do because of the weight of poor mental health. So, for my own sake, and to honor what I wish he would have done, I worked hard on mine.
We can find many articles and see how self-care is not just a one-time thing. It is an ongoing alignment of the mind, body, and spirit and caring for oneself. It is an entire lifetime shift that ebbs and flows as one learns to be kind to the mind. There are so many steps to take as we learn to hold space for our mind….and some people get overwhelmed and think that they have to do it all at the same time when truly, it is a step at a time, and if that step is too much, a pinky toe at a time is also a worthy increment.
So before I give you some great ideas, realize that you don’t have to do them all simultaneously. Pick two or three a day…some the same to build a healthy routine and some different things to take you out of your comfort zone to where the magic is and put it in your calendar for the year to do something every day.
Idea 1: Stop negative self-talk! That can be done through journaling, and paying attention to our emotions as we write. As we do this, we can start to identify triggers and put words to what they are. As we learn to be kind to our minds, we can ask ourselves., “Would I say this to my actual friend?” If the answer is no, then why is it being said by you to yourself? As we learn to journal we can practice reframing our thinking with positive, balanced, and realistic thoughts. It helps to have this go together with surrounding yourself with a tight circle of 3-5 good friends who can help speak the truth to you from a space of love as well as in the wise counsel of a therapist if one chooses to go. It is a process to retrain the brain to stop negative self-talk. It takes heaps of patience, grit, and endurance! Learning to like ourselves and the skin we are in matters so much!
Idea 2: Moonshot thinking! Have you ever heard of that? It is the very same audacious thinking that got humanity to the moon in the first place and we can practice it ourselves as we shoot for our moon. We can do so by dreaming big while writing down what-if scenarios and challenging the art of possibility. When we use this type of self-care, we are embracing failures not as the end-line of all things, but as a launching point for growth. We are letting the ball bounce forward as we take risks to experience new things with a perfect amount of unknown outcomes. We learn to celebrate small wins. The grit and stick-to-itiveness it takes to practice moonshot thinking is not to be taken lightly, but don’t give up when you are in the middle of something. The lessons we learn in the middle as we work things out take us to the other side of the shore to the place we were hoping to be. As it has been said in many different places, it is the journey, not the destination that matters.
Idea 3: Embrace the new person you are becoming! We are all in a space of growth. We do this by learning new things and embracing new experiences. We cannot go back to what we wish we had or what we wished was. Part of self-care is leaving behind something old for something new and sowing the seeds needed for a new life without feeling guilty for taking care of ourselves. We can do this by putting in spaces of rest and doing things for ourselves that nourish our souls as well as doing things that allow us to feel refreshed and step forward in joy. We can also do this by forgiving ourselves for ways that we knew we could have or should have done better but didn’t at the time, however, now we know better and we are going to be our own best friend and practice self-compassion.
Self-care is all about the agenda of mattering. You matter. Your purpose on this Earth we live on is essential. You have skills no one else has or uses in the same way. You are irreplaceable to those who love you. It is okay that you go about the journey of self-care imperfectly as long as you are still growing and becoming the person you were created to be. You are human after all. So, be patient with yourself. You got this. Tomorrow needs you.
About the author:
Kimberly is a mother of adult children, an educator, and a suicide widow. She spends her time as creatively as possible trying to be a merchant of hope for others. From Costa Rica, she lives in the Twin Cities, Minnesota and you can often find her with a good book in her hand learning to garden, and being courageously creative.