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Why Self-Care Should Be a Priority This Year

Self care is about self love

I wrote an article about “self tough love” back in 2015 as a way to bring in the new year of 2016. Personally, 2016 was an alright year for me (in terms of self tough love), but I think most of us can agree that 2016 was generally less-than-awesome. Who am I kidding, it straight-up sucked.

A lot of people are having a tough go of it because of the election, and the next four years will be a long slog for many groups of people. It’s fully possible that some will have their rights taken away or will have their families split apart. It’s a scary moment for all of us, but particularly for people who were already disadvantaged.

It’s easy to feel helpless — there’s only so much we can do about what’s happening out there in the world. We can donate money to worthy causes, volunteer, and stay engaged, but change doesn’t ever happen overnight. It’s easy to turn inward in a negative way, blocking yourself off from the all good that you can do.

I don’t know about you all, but I’m ready to make a solid go at 2017 in the best ways I know how, starting with myself. I think we all deserve that, and maybe some of you need a reminder that it’s alright to designate time for yourself this year. In fact, it’s necessary.

Here are some suggestions to make that happen:

1. Schedule self-care like any other important task.

Your self-care will be different than anyone else’s, but it might look something like: an hour at the gym, an evening away from social media, reserving Sunday mornings for painting, et cetera. Whatever it is, enter it into the calendar you use to organize your days like it’s a doctor’s appointment or something. It’s that important.

2. If possible, you should take time away from the stuff that exhausts you.

For me, that means getting away from the never-ending news cycle on social media. I think it feels good to keep up with current events using my favorite news sources, but social media is chock full of sensationalism, fake news, and honestly? A bit too much legit news, too. Occasionally, I need a break from all the trending topics on Facebook and Twitter, no matter how interesting or important they may be. I don’t mind a break from social media in general, either.

Related: Social Media Habits To Break

This is also important for people who often take their work home with them. With most jobs, you can set boundaries and make it clear that you will not be responding to emails or phone calls outside of work hours. Even if you love your career, you’ll benefit from getting away for awhile. You are more than your job.

Making self-care a priority

3. Make time for what energizes you, the things that make you feel like you.

This is just as important as getting away from the stuff that makes you feel blah. Fill your free time with activities that add to your life, like reading books for fun and calling your best friend for a two hour phone conversation. Setting aside blocks of time for this stuff can be harder than it seems.

For example, I have a lot of fun practicing foreign languages, but I end up watching TV with my husband on a lot of the nights when I should be practicing. Why? It takes a lot less effort. The thing is, after I’m done practicing and I’ve learned some new phrases, I feel accomplished and excited to learn more. After watching TV, I feel like I’ve done nothing with my night.

You should make time for the things that make you feel accomplished, even (or especially) if they take a lot of effort. For a little extra push, I like to have Beeminder remind me to stay on track with my goals – it bothers me to practice my French for at least four hours per week.

4. Check in with yourself physically.

How are you feeling? How are you sleeping these days? I’m not a big believer in New Years’ resolutions that involve a weight or pants size goal, but I love the idea of an annual reminder to get out of whatever rut you may be in. If your workouts aren’t exciting anymore, or if you’ve been relying a little too much on frozen microwave meals, take this opportunity to switch it up.

Make a commitment to find a way to have more fun with all the physical stuff: enjoy sleep, enjoy meals, enjoy workouts. You’ll feel better.

Related: How Sleep, Yoga, and Meditation Will Improve Your Life

5. If you’re able, put your money where your goals are.

Saving is an important part of this, but you should also invest in yourself in other, more exciting, ways.

Splurging is especially fun when it’s going towards something that’s in line with your goals. Treat yourself to that language-learning software if you’ve always wanted to learn Italian, or get a membership at that pricey gym with a sauna that you’ve been looking into. It’s especially easy to justify a splurge if it’s good for you.

More: When a Little Bit of Strategic Splurging Is OK

The year ahead of us is uncertain in numerous ways. Make social awareness, humility, compassion, and openness priorities, but make self-care a priority, too. I urge you all to think about what how you want to practice self-care in 2017; please designate some time for whatever that is, and invest in it if you can.

And as a fun bonus, be sure to check out this 30 Day Self-Care Challenge

About the Author

Natalee Desotell

Natalee graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013 with a triple major in Political Science, International Politics & Economics, Languages & Cultures of Asia, and a minor in Global Public Health. After a couple years in the working world, she recently returned to her alma mater to study Cartography and Geographical Information Systems. A self-proclaimed public health nerd, her dream job is to communicate epidemiological information visually through beautiful interactive maps and graphics. She enjoys iced black coffee, punk rock music, and surprising people.