6 Acts of Self-Care for the New Year (And Beyond)

  • Written By:Elizabeth Kendig
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More is not more. Harder is not better. Now, more than ever, we need to build ourselves back up.

We’ve been waiting for 2021 for, like, ever, hoping that by some magic wand it WILL ALL BE BETTER. Normally we take this task upon ourselves, assuming that self-improvement is the answer to all of our problems and the key to a happier life in the new year: If I could just lose X pounds, wake up earlier, get more organized, get more exercise . . .

But this year is different.

We are tired. We are lonely. We are grieving. We are depressed. We are bored. We are broke. We are wearing the same “outfit” three days in a row and forcing ourselves to bathe on the fourth.

Any of these conditions, let alone several all at once, require not deprivation and self-flagellation but extreme self-care. How we lived in “The Before” will no longer serve us. More is not more. Harder is not better. Now, more than ever, we need to build ourselves back up. Here’s how to begin:

When you’re tired, rest.

Seems pretty obvious, but how many of us sleep when we are tired or take a break when we’re not feeling 100 percent? Worse, how often do you judge yourself for being exhausted, as if it’s a weakness? Do not underestimate the sheer fatigue that stress and anxiety can cause. It’s not just your body; your soul is weary. And just think: a nap will justify staying in your pajamas all day.

Surrender. Then surrender some more.

If 2020 taught us anything it’s that nothing is certain and nothing we do will guarantee the life we want (or think we want). You can view this loss of control as utterly terrifying, or absolutely liberating. Next time you find yourself trying to force an outcome or find an answer—with your career, a financial decision, whether to break your lease and move upstate—just stop. Give it to God or the Universe or your journal. Take that nap. You can’t hear the solution unless you’re relaxed and open enough to listen.

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The lines between work and life, self and family, zoom meetings and zoom happy hours, are so blurred right now, we need to consciously create boundaries.

Make something sacred.

A nightly bath. Calling your grandmother. Weekly face masks. Sunday supper. Doesn’t matter what it is, it only matters that you give yourself permission to set aside time for something that reminds you that there’s an actual human in there. Our inclination is to be productive, to do things with a quantifiable value. But it’s doing something simply because it brings us joy that fills us up so that we can fight another day.

Establish healthy boundaries.

If you feel like every day bleeds into the next and are having mild panic attacks by Tuesday, this one is especially for you. The lines between work and life, self and family, zoom meetings and zoom happy hours, are so blurred right now, we need to consciously create boundaries. That could be as simple as moving your laptop out of the dining room for dinner, or not talking to your partner about during the day lest you start to feel like co-workers. Consider keeping the same hour (or 15 minutes) each morning sacred for fitness or a silent cup of coffee before you check email. Anything that A healthy boundary might also be not doom scrolling COVID reports or election tweets in bed so that you can actually sleep.

Cry often.

Another sign of weakness we need to debunk. Crying, for any reason, is our body’s innate and irrefutable response to what we are feeling. There’s a reason we often experience a release after crying: processing our emotions helps to heal them. It’s self-healing at its best and you don’t have to anything but lie there! Next time you need a good cry, don’t think of it as falling apart — remember that the sooner you break down, the sooner you get to the break through.

You will feel better when you show yourself the kindness and grace you normally reserve for your favorite people.

Love the sh*t out of yourself.

As someone who has built a business on what ultimately comes down to self-love, I used to cringe at this concept. Give yourself a hug! Leave yourself love post-it notes! Look in the mirror and say ‘I love you.’ Gag me with a spoon. Because most of us don’t love ourselves. We can’t even fathom loving something so flawed. But perfection isn’t the goal. Giving yourself a fighting chance to feel good is. And you will feel better when you show yourself the kindness and grace you normally reserve for your favorite people.

Elizabeth Kendig is the founder of Healers Wanted.

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