"So, what are your New Year's Resolutions?"
How often do we get asked this question on New Year's Eve or the first days of the year? How often did we have the best intentions for the upcoming year in mind and decide to finally go to the gym twice a week, find a better job, or eat healthier? And how often did it work out?
I want to offer you some alternative New Year's Resolutions that can truly help you feel better and find more balance and joy in life.
More and more studies show how self-kindness brings greater well-being by reducing depression, anxiety, stress, and shame and increasing happiness, life satisfaction, self-confidence, and even physical health.
1) Be gentler with yourself
What do you tell a friend who is overwhelmed and stressed? Maybe something like, "You're doing great. I am here for you. It's okay to take a break."
What do you tell yourself in the same situation? Do you find words of kindness, or do you make yourself feel even worse by thinking, "I should be able to manage! I am just not good enough. I have to be better."
When the people we care for are struggling, we usually react with compassion and empathy. We are there for our friend, family member or colleague, finding words of comfort and understanding. It's like we have an instinct to help somebody through suffering. But, unfortunately, we often don't use that same instinct for ourselves.
“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” You Can Heal Your Life, Louise L. Hay
For the upcoming year 2022, try to be gentler with yourself. When you notice negative self-talk and being overly critical with yourself, think about how you would treat a friend in the same situation. Imagine what you would tell your friend and how your voice would sound like. Then, ask yourself: "What do I need right now to feel better?" and do whatever it takes to support yourself through the challenge. This will also have a positive impact on your self-esteem.
2) Take breaks
“In Canada, 47 per cent of workers report feeling exhausted during a typical workday, compared with the 39 per cent global average. The country’s stress levels are also higher than the global average, with more than 50 per cent of Canadian workers reporting feeling stressed.” itworldcanada.com
Give yourself the breaks you need in 2022. Breaks are more important for our mental well-being than we might think. Regular breaks reduce stress, increase concentration and performance, and prevent the need for a longer recovery at the end of the day.
Try to find out why you don't allow yourself to take a break and why you repeatedly push yourself to your limits. Is it unrealistic standards you set for yourself, perfectionism, fear?
Start taking breaks with intention and whenever you need to recharge. Tell yourself, "I need and deserve a break. I want to take good care of myself." And remember that taking a break looks different for everyone. One person might recharge by having some time alone; another person needs to socialize and be active to refill their batteries.
What is it YOU need to recharge?
3) Celebrate successes
How do you treat yourself when you've done something really well? For example, when you've finished a challenging work project, or put your kids to bed successfully after an exhausting day, or overcame your insecurities and went on a date with a stranger? Are you telling yourself, "well done," or are you behaving like it's not a big deal at all and just move on?
We are usually not used to celebrating our successes and being proud of ourselves. Often, it's easier to focus on what's not working well and what we're lacking instead of focusing on what we're good at.
Feeling proud of yourself doesn’t mean becoming vain or narcissistic. Nor does it involve disparaging others so that you seem superior. On the contrary, being happy with yourself allows you to establish healthier, more satisfying relationships with other people. exploringyourmind.com
Get used to be proud of your accomplishments. Tell yourself, "well done," and tab yourself on the shoulder when you did something well or overcame a challenge. Make it your habit to reflect on what you're proud of at the end of each day.
Shifting our mindset from critical and negative thinking to self-compassion, acceptance, and self-love is challenging. It takes a lot of practice to internalize a different way of looking at ourselves with kindness and understanding instead of criticism and perfectionism.
Here is a little exercise that can help with increasing your self-esteem, feelings of self-worth and compassion:
At the end of each day, answer the following questions:
What went well today?
What did I do that needed courage?
Where do I need to show myself more kindness?
I wish you all the best for 2022 with more kindness for yourself.