If you’re not someone who believes in new years resolutions, keep reading.
Resolutions are a time old tradition but too often we focus on goals that don’t serve us or aren’t specific enough to tackle. Making resolutions encourages you to discover how you can better serve yourself this coming year.
To begin, grab a piece of paper and sit down for a few minutes and think about the types of feelings you would like to experience more of this coming year. As family caregivers, our positive feelings often get trounced by the needs of those we care for. This exercise brings the focus back to you because feeling good about yourself keeps feelings of resentment towards loved ones at bay and leaves more energy to be a healthier and more present caregiver.
Steer clear of resolutions about weight loss, calorie counting, and ambitious exercise plans
Body health is important, don’t get me wrong. The Caregiver Space has their own caregiver fitness videos to prove it. Resolutions about weight loss are an all too common goal that taint how we feel about ourselves when we fail to reach our goals of dropping pounds or exercising more. Resolutions like this don’t empower the healthy start you deserve.
Focus your resolutions on maintaining mini practices that you can do everyday
When the focus of your resolutions only take a few minutes to complete, they’re a lot less daunting and much more realistic to achieve the benefits they provide than a hardcore exercise regimen. The feelings and thoughts we chose to focus on determine how we feel about ourselves. Starting practices that focus on mini appreciations is a subtle and impactful way to improve your mental health.
Notice what you feel resistance to, it’s the most telling sign of what you need to address
A helpful way to begin choosing helpful and supportive new years resolutions is to notice negative behaviors or feelings you have and then come up a different behavior you can choose to respond with when you notice yourself starting to spin a negative self-narrative.
Here are 4 suggestions for great new years resolutions that focus on self-care, lowering stress and feeling good about you:
1. Appreciate the small things in life
When you notice yourself becoming critical, take 2 minutes to write down or close your eyes and reflect on 5 things that you’ve done for yourself, witnessed, or received recently that you can feel good about. This could be taking 30 seconds to gaze out the window at the trees when you woke up, or that you made a special effort to be patient with your loved one at a tense moment. Try not to judge or diminish the thoughts that come up, simply acknowledge and savor these mini moments in time. What are you grateful for?
2. Take time to really love the person you care for
Life is sacred and daily caregiving can feel hard, exhausting, and annoying. Practice not letting the hard parts about caring get in the way of really loving being with that person. Acknowledge how special it is that you can spend close time with this person at such a vulnerable part of their life.
Practice paying attention to when you’re heading over the ledge of over-committing yourself. Letting your care team and loved one know you need a break is such an important way of honoring yourself and avoiding caregiver burnout. Calling time and stepping out, even if it’s only for a five minute walk outside around the house helps to establish a healthy relationship with your care team and the person you care for. Let people know you’re not available for an hour in the afternoon. Use that time to nap, read, explore or get out of the house. Creating time for yourself strengthens your identity and better prepares you to handle the stresses of caregiving.
4. Reflect on what makes you happy
Setting healthy boundaries creates the space for this new years resolution idea. Caregiving for a loved one often pulls us away from the activities and practices that we used to identify with. Take time to reflect on practices that bring you joy. Maybe it’s watercoloring, DIY projects, writing, gardening, or collecting. While your time probably is limited, think about setting aside a little time to nourish that part of yourself once or twice a month
Whether or not you identify with these suggested self-care practices, make this coming year about focusing on your well-being and health. Choosing to introduce thoughtful reflective moments a couple times per day supports your ability to see yourself in the most positive light. Caring for yourself in this way improves your self-esteem, reminds you who you are and can energize and support your ability to provide quality care to the loved one in your life.