There’s something to be said for new beginnings. Starting a new year always seems to hit a reset button in me: it’s a new start and a chance to accomplish all those things I couldn’t manage to do the year before. I’ve recently been thinking more about some things I want to accomplish in the coming year, so I thought I’d outline my three resolutions for 2016.
- Be kinder to myself.
I am a giant bully. I say things to myself that I would never say to another human being. Any missteps I have, whether they are embarrassing moments or genuine mistakes, are catalogued mentally in my “you’re a failure” box so that I can open them up and review them over and over again while I convince myself I’m worthless.
Friends have told me on and off over the years that I abuse myself, but I didn’t really take them seriously until a few years ago. And it was even more recently, after reading Susan Dennard’s posts on this very topic, that I even realized just how often I bully myself and how destructive it is. Over the last few months I’ve come to realize that I can’t keep being horrible to myself and also stay mentally healthy. I need to be okay with making mistakes. I need to stop beating myself up for every little thing I do wrong. I need to be okay with taking breaks and not feel guilty if I don’t write every single day or don’t hit the goals I set for myself.
So in order to be kinder to myself, I’m taking Susan’s advice (seriously, if you do anything creative, do yourself a favor and sign up for her newsletter) and enrolling in the Science of Happiness. I’m going to try and actively practice not comparing myself to others (starting with this book on self-compassion). Social media always brings out the worst in my self-bullying, so I’m going to spend less time on Twitter and Facebook so I can stay in the real world and focus on the things that are important to me. I am going to try and concentrate on the positives—my writing journal is my safe space to write about whatever I’m thinking, but even there I want to make more of an effort to move away from the negatives and the worries and highlight the things I did accomplish rather than the things I didn’t. And lastly, I’m going to be better about giving myself break days away from my writing. A friend recently suggested scheduling in creative rejuvenation days so that I let my mind rest regularly instead of waiting until I break down and am forced to step away, and I want to make sure those also get added to my schedule.
- Find hobbies.
Speaking of breaks, I want to find other things to do on my break days that don’t involve just reading or binging something on Netflix. For the longest time writing was my hobby. Whenever I had a few minutes to spare I would spend it working on a new poem or story idea. But recently, writing hasn’t been a hobby—it’s been my life. And that change made me realize that I have nothing I do outside of work, writing, or hanging out with friends.
So my goal this year is to find some new hobbies, or rediscover old ones. I used to love dance and music until I gave them up, and frankly I miss them both. I’ve always wanted to hike more, and take self-defense, yoga, and meditation classes, but never found the time. I’ve said I wanted to grow an herb garden and start a baking blog for years now. I’ve wanted to get into photography and work in film and theater and teach myself to draw. I’m not sure if any of these things will be hobbies I pursue in the long term, but I want to make more of an effort to find the time to explore my other interests outside of writing, especially those interests that get me out from behind my computer.
- Care for my mind and body.
This goes hand in hand with being kinder to myself, but I can’t do all the things I want to do if I don’t take care of myself first. I thought I’d moved away from those days in college where I’d replace meals with coffee and where I’d push myself on little sleep and emotional stress. And it was true for a while. I was eating better and exercising more and getting enough sleep—until I just wasn’t anymore. And again, I began to treat it like a thing to check off my list and bully myself if I ate badly or didn’t wake up at exactly 6am and start writing.
And how I treat my mental health is even worse. I have a hard time saying no to people, especially those who ask me for help. Over the last four months, I agreed to do at least two things that put an insane amount of stress on me, made it impossible for me to write, and led to many breakdowns and anxiety attacks. Stress that my allergist believed likely led to the chronic idiopathic hives I developed. I’m lucky that my hives seem to have settled down in just under six months, after a handful of lifestyle changes and allergy medications, but perhaps it’s something I could have avoided altogether by taking better care of myself.
So I want to make sure I practice the habit of putting myself first, even if it means being selfish. I want to make sure I do whatever I need to do in order to keep myself happy and healthy, so that I can have more energy for those things I do commit to doing, even if it means saying no to more things. I will focus on getting enough sleep, eating fresh and healthy food, exercising regularly, and most importantly, I won’t beat myself up for any days where I don’t do all of those.
So those are my resolutions for 2016—what are some of yours?