7 Self-Care Resolutions to Make 2020 Your Happiest, Healthiest Year Yet
The countdown to the new year has begun. As we move toward the end of 2019, it's time to whip out your notebook and consider ways to improve your life next year. If you're hoping to be happier and healthier than ever (and who isn't?), be sure to add some self-care to your list.
"Self-care means taking part in activities that improve your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being," Christopher Ryan Jones, PsyD, told POPSUGAR. "We live in a very busy world. There are so many things that are bidding for our time. Many people are so busy they often forget to take care of themselves." The next thing you know, you're overcome with the stress of your day-to-day life. "This is detrimental to your health and well-being and actually makes you less productive in the long run," he explained. With that in mind, here are seven simple ways you can turn the tides this year.
Read For at Least a Few Minutes Each Day
"A study from the University of Sussex found that reading for just six minutes can reduce stress by 68 percent and is more effective than listening to music, taking a walk, playing video games, or drinking hot tea or coffee," Sharone Weltfreid, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist, told POPSUGAR.
There are tons of genres to choose from that can help you escape for a few minutes or learn something new. "Another added benefit of reading is that it can help us to fall asleep, so it's great if you can make reading a book part of your bedtime routine," Dr. Weltfreid said.
Start Your Morning Early
"Many people try to stay in bed as long as possible. While sleep is good, it's also important to start your day off right," Dr. Jones said. "By giving yourself ample time to wake up and get ready for your day, you avoid running late or rushing to get ready, which only adds stress to your life. You also have time to spend some time with yourself over a cup of coffee as you think about the day ahead."
Make Sleep a Priority
Of course, getting up earlier doesn't mean you should miss out on those precious hours of sleep. "Getting enough sleep is probably the most important thing we can do to care for ourselves," Dr. Weltfreid explained, noting that sleep helps restore your energy, reduce stress, and improve your mood. "Most adults need seven to eight hours," she said.
While there are lots of habits that can help you get better sleep (like powering down your devices in the evening and keeping your bedroom cool), Dr. Weltfreid stressed the importance of a nighttime routine. "I recommend that clients engage in activities that promote relaxation prior to sleep, such as meditation, reading, and listening to music," she said.
Learn to Say No
"Setting boundaries is a form of self-care. How often have you agreed to a request when you wanted to say no or hadn't stepped back to consider the implications for you?" Dr. Weltfreid asked. "Saying yes indiscriminately can mean little to no time for yourself and what you need to live a balanced, happy, and successful life. When we repeatedly say yes, we end up feeling depleted, resentful, overwhelmed, unhappy, and powerless."
It won't be easy at first, so have some responses in the back of your mind that you can fire off when you need them. "For requests that you need time to think about, you can say something like, 'I will need to get back to you,'" Dr. Weltfreid said. "When you are clear that the answer is no, say, 'I'm sorry, but my schedule is packed,' or 'I wish I could help, but I can't that day.'"
Do Kind Things For Others
When you make kindness a habit, "you'll not only feel better about yourself, but your world," Dr. Jones said. It doesn't have to be some grand gesture. Instead, focus on small acts of kindness you can do on a regular basis. "Buy someone else's coffee when you're in line at Starbucks, offer to volunteer at a local charity, bake something and take it to a neighbor, or help a family in need during the holiday season," he explained. "There are so many possibilities."
"Mindfulness involves intentionally placing our attention on the present moment without judgment," Dr. Weltfreid explained, and it's known to help reduce stress and anxiety. You can practice mindfulness meditation anywhere and for any length of time.
This meditation is a good place to start: "Simply assume a comfortable upright position and close your eyes or soften your gaze downward. Attend to the sensation of your in-breath and out-breath without attempting to alter it," Dr. Weltfreid said. "When you notice that your mind has wandered, which it will, gently redirect you attention to your breath. Rather than berating yourself for getting lost in thought, recognize that you are practicing mindfulness the very moment you notice that your attention has strayed from the breath."
Put a Pen to Paper
"Journaling is a great self-care tool. Write about your day, the way you feel, and your plans for the future," Dr. Jones said. "Even if you only journal for 10 minutes a day, that's 10 minutes you are giving yourself. You may find that it is a simple and effective way for assessing and improving your life." Some people also find coloring to be relaxing, so try that if you'd rather shut your brain off for a few minutes.