New Year, New You, right? If there is something 2020 taught us all, it is that we are resilient. Have to switch overnight from in-person to virtual school, work, place of worship, meals, meets up, and holidays? No problem, we handled it. No vacations, traveling, or social meetups? No problem, we adapted. But throughout all of that, we likely didn’t realize the emotional and physical exhaustion that came with it. It might have seemed like we had all this newfound free time, but did we really? How was that supposed free time spent?
When we think of our goals for 2021, let’s remember some of the experiences and lessons learned in 2020. Let’s be more mindful of where we are investing our energy and how we are using our time. Let’s remember to take care of ourselves and choose things that bring us joy. Here are five tips to help us do that:
1. Start small and personal. Sit down and think about what you want—not necessarily what your kids need or what your spouse hopes for, but rather what you need for yourself. Maybe a little downtime, a drive to get a coffee given you are home all day, or even a walk around your neighborhood while you listen to your favorite podcast. The smaller and the more obtainable, the more likely you will accomplish the goal and pick another small goal to continue.
2. Create a plan. Think of the bigger picture; let’s say it’s getting healthy. That is a lofty goal, so pick some smaller goals within that. Think about how you want to feel and then what has helped you feel that way in the past. Let’s say you want to feel less stressed and vacations have helped in the past. Even though we can’t go on vacation, what is it about vacations that is helpful? Having a break from work? Being outside in the sun? Taking a break from household responsibilities? Maybe you can work some of those benefits into your everyday life.
3. Reduce stress. No matter the goal, reducing stress is going to be a part of it. What can you take off your plate? Can you reduce, re-assign, or outsource any of your responsibilities to free up time for something else (hopefully self-care related)? The pandemic has created all sorts of services to help with this—meal or grocery delivery, laundry pick-up/drop-off, online exercise/yoga/meditation (save that driving time to the gym for something else), and even cleaning your home (hiring someone to clean it or simply reducing some of the things you have always done). For example, if you normally steam clean your floors once a week, with so few people coming into your home, do you really need to continue doing that weekly? Just because we have done things a certain way for a long time, doesn’t mean we have to continue doing them that way.
4. Increase self-care. There has been a lot of chat about self-care, but what does it really mean? Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. Have you noticed you are skipping things lately that you have always done to keep yourself healthy? Like not brushing your teeth unless you are leaving your house or only washing your hair once or twice a week (you’re not leaving the house, so why bother?). Don’t let your self-care take a backseat in this “new normal.” Self-care can also be continuing to use prescribed daily medication or vitamins, exercising (walking counts!), meditation, creating things, going outside, sleeping/naps, eating a healthier diet (even just adding an extra serving of vegetables for dinner), reading a book or listening to a podcast, and connecting with others.
5. Have grace for yourself. We continue to be in the middle of an ever-changing pandemic and even though things may start to look more normal, they are not. You may still need to spend extra energy on homeschooling, handwashing, finding items at the grocery store, or on finding alternatives to the outlets we have had in the past. We must have patience with ourselves. Things aren’t exactly how we had hoped them to be, so our responses may not be what they once were and that is okay.
Looking for more tips and guidance? JFS Orlando’s counselors are specialized in various areas and are here to support you. Telehealth counseling appointments now available! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. Call 407-644-7671 or complete our new online form to request an appointment today!
Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW is the Clinical Director and a licensed clinical social worker at JFS Orlando. Ashlyn has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient community based mental health, inpatient/admission psychiatric hospital, substance abuse/DUI, dialysis/medical, and in home/office outpatient therapy.