Check Yourself, Don’t Wreck Yourself: Thoughts on Self-Care for the New Year

If you’ve been following my ongoing series on Mussar, you might have noticed that I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about self-compassion and self-care. We can only be our best selves if we are kind to ourselves. It sounds obvious and easy, but I think many of us know that it can be difficult to set our own well-being above all the other commitments in our lives. To that end, I’ve compiled some thoughts and resources that I’ve found valuable.

  1. Saying no

It might be nice to live in a world where we are able to do all things we would like to and all the things everyone else asks of us. But alas, we live a world of limited time, and so we owe it to ourselves to prioritize our different engagements and activities and be able to nicely and/or considerately decline those we can’t accommodate. It could require some soul searching about taking on fewer commitments or changing how you handle those commits, but may be as simple as holding yourself to leaving the office on time.

  1. Simplifying

We often make our lives more complicated than they need to be, and the extra hassle isn’t always worth the extra benefit. An example: I’ve spent years struggling with what to eat for breakfast, looking up different recipes, spending valuable weekend time preparing different concoctions for the week. But then I recently was craving bananas and began a personal bananas (with Nutella) for breakfast campaign, and I’ve found myself happy at breakfast and with a lot more weekend time on my hands. Some people have taken the concept further, abiding by meal schedules or uniforms.

  1. Taking time out during the day, before getting exhausted

This is one that I struggle with on a daily basis – I get so involved on a project I’m working on that I don’t want to stop, but by then end of the day, I am completely wrecked. I’m trying to be better about putting breaks on my calendar and calling on friends and coworkers for reinforcement. To that end, try eating lunch away from your desk, and even better, with a buddy.

  1. Getting enough sleep

Not getting enough sleep means I wake up feeling resentful and am more likely to burn out and be less than my best. So I’m working on enforcing mandatory bed times, as Gretchen Rubin suggests in The Happiness Project. I’ve also heard that snoozing is a no-no, but I haven’t yet rallied to give up my daily 3+ snoozes habit.

  1. Dance more

Whether it’s around my room or with someone else, I bet you’ll feel better when you’re dancing.

For a longer list of self-care dimensions and to assess your own level of self care, check out this great checklist.

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