Health and wellness touch everyone’s life differently. This is one person’s story.
It’s that time of year again. That time of year when commercials, our social media feeds, and even our own parents, bully us into believing that a new calendar year means an entirely different you.
But after 10 years of spending New Year’s Eve either on suicide watch in a psychiatric ward, or on the verge of being placed in an inpatient unit due to extreme depression and relentless panic attacks, I am taking a new approach to the New Year this time around.
That means no more “New Year, New Me.” It’s time that I learn to care for the already awesome person that I am. So instead, this year, I am going to focus on the idea of “New Year, New Self-Care Regimen.”
One method that I use to focus on ideas like these is to write a letter to myself:
Dear Positively Kate,
What a year this has been! Highs, lows, outrageous dorkiness, depression, relapse, recovery, joy… and so much more. My goodness, it’s hard to believe all of these feelings fit within a single year. But did you know that, in the midst of it all, you have grown? Yes, you. In spite of darkness, relapses, bad days at work, and trouble at home, you have grown in enumerable ways. Some aspects of growth are visible, while others are not. Regardless, this year was full of growing in spite of the many hardships at hand.
Usually, at this time of year, you sit down and write a letter — much like this one — where you play the comparison game and generate an almost endless list of “areas for improvement.” This year, instead of partaking in this painful and — let’s admit it — unproductive activity, perhaps this is an opportunity to try a different approach?
What if, instead of reinventing yourself (the one and only self you have) you choose to care for yourself more thoughtfully and intentionally?
In the face of what the media and your family may be telling you, this concept of self-care as a resolution may feel like a radical concept. But this year, I truly believe it is the right decision.
So, here are what I want to be your New New Year’s Resolutions:
Resolution 1: Resolve to choose acceptance
This year, instead of pinching your tummy fat and starting a crash diet and new exercise regimen, resolve to accept yourself. There is such power in acceptance. And, better yet, there is such freedom.
So, any time you find yourself trying to transform or eradicate your individuality, this year you should resolve to say: “No. This year, I accept me. This year, I am enough, exactly as I am!”
Resolution 2: Resolve to choose intentionality over trying to do everything
So often, you get caught up believing that you have to do everything in order to be a good and meaningful human. But, let’s face it, you can’t accomplish every task you give yourself. And in the quest to do them all, you lose the meaning and joy that can be found along the way.
This year, resolve to make intentional choices regarding what you participate in. And, when you make commitments, ensure that you put your phone away and lose yourself in the beauty of the moment and activity at hand.
Resolution 3: Learn the power of no
Since you were very little, you have been told that to be kind, you must always say “yes.” However, this is simply not true. Always saying “yes” is an act of people-pleasing. This year, resolve to learn how to say “no,” with no explanation, and bask in the freedom such an expression can bring.
Resolution 4: Explore new things at your own pace
A new year often brings a slew of new hobbies to your attention. From Tae Bo, to cooking classes, to swim lessons. New Year’s pasts often begin with you spreading yourself too thin, with the end result being that you’ve given up on every single new activity.
This year, resolve to explore things, when, and only when, you can fully commit and enjoy them. Growing takes energy. Focus that energy on just one thing when you are ready and want to, not just because of a date on the calendar.
Resolution 5: Focus on the little things as a source of joy
Doesn’t it feel like society only likes to focus on the big things? The exotic destinations. The final result of months of work and effort. The promotion. And yet, these events are fleeting. The day to day is where we live our lives.
This year, resolve to focus on the joy found in the little things. The chipmunk stuck eating sunflower seeds in the bird feeder again. The smile someone gives when you hold the door for them. That moment when you wake up before the alarm. These are joyful, and they count. This year, resolve to take note of all the tiny glimmers and count them for the true light that they are.
Resolution 6: Learn that rest is productive
Although society may brainwash you into believing that you should be busy, busy all the time, this kind of intensity is not healthy. When you push yourself hard at work, in the face of health issues and in all moments of hardship, rest is paramount to your preservation of self. Rest is what allows you to maintain any and all progress you make.
So this year, resolve to take naps. Yes, I just said that — and I mean it. Resolve to put your feet up, read a book, and have a lazy Saturday once in a while. Resolve to rest and to celebrate these times as an act of productivity as well.
Resolution 7: Indulge in one joyful thing each day
With family, work, community, and maintaining your individual health, you may often find yourself at 11 p.m. having had hardly a moment to pause all day. The daily tasks of living seem to always take precedence to your joy. Now, many of those tasks contain joy within them, but this year, resolve to do one thing every day that is wholly, purely joyful. Whether it’s a bubble bath, snuggling your pup, having a cup of piping hot chai, or journaling — resolve to find joy for exclusively your sake each day.
Now, golly gee, I realize that is a whole kit and caboodle to tackle. So, with self-care in mind, choose to start with just one resolution. Yes, let’s say, start with resolution seven: to indulge in one purely joyful thing each day. And then, each month thereafter, add another. After all, this is the year of exploring things at your own pace.
So, yes. Tomorrow, Sweet Kate, may you dance. Dance for you is always a delight. Dance in joy, for you and you alone, in pure acceptance of yourself.
With love and gratitude already for the care you will be giving me,
Kate Speer Fisher is a mental health advocate, public speaker, writer, and the author of . Connect with her on or .