“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh
The first few weeks of the new year are the perfect time to set intentions for the months ahead. Especially in times of transition, it’s vital to focus on what is most important to us, the energy we want to put out into the world, and to set a course to provide ourselves with the love and care we both need and deserve.
And let’s make sure to include ourselves in those intentions, not just those we love and are caring for. When was the last time you told yourself how much you love yourself? We often spend so much of our time and energy thinking about others and caring for them, it’s easy and understandable to forget about self-care. But as the saying goes, it’s hard to pour from an empty cup. If it’s been a while since you’ve engaged in self-reflection, now is the time to start. Make a list of the positive qualities you are proud of. Think of the recent acts you are proud of yourself for doing. Dream and imagine the things you haven’t done yet, that you’d love to do for yourself in 2024.
If this topic feels foreign to you, you aren’t alone. Conversations and questions about how to better love oneself appear frequently across online communities like Reddit and Quora, to name a few.
Here are a few tips to set yourself up for improved self-care in the new year:
1. Practice Gratitude
Studies have proven that practicing gratitude improves both our physical and mental health. It can be easy to spend our time and energy focusing on the bad things in life, and it takes effort to direct our attention towards the positives we have. But to improve self-care, we need to be present in the moment, and appreciative for who we are and what we have. A great way to start practicing gratitude is to keep a journal, where every day you write one thing you are thankful for in your life, or even something about yourself you appreciate.
2. Consider Your Surroundings
This includes people and places! If you wish you had more positive people in your life, seek out new friendships through community gatherings, volunteering opportunities, or even online groups. And don’t be afraid to make the change in scenery that you deserve. Your local Caring Transitions team can help create an individualized plan to create a new environment that will make you happier. Whether it is a home clean-out to declutter your surroundings, or even moving to a new state or community, our team can take care of it all, so you are not alone.
3. Change Your Language
Giving ourselves proper self-care starts with the words coming out of our mouths. Don’t be afraid to compliment yourself once a day or count the small wins you achieve. Also, consider the words you say to others. Often, what we put out into the universe is what we receive. When we send love and positivity outward, we’ll often receive more in return. Above all, don’t be afraid to add “asking for help” into your daily dialogue. We are all worthy of receiving help, and it becomes easier to love oneself when we also have a surrounding community of support.
Creating time and a self-care plan is especially important if you are a caregiver. Our friends at Growing Bolder have created a full list of resources and tips to help caregivers give themselves the attention they deserve.