Three People Running In The Countryside

Self Care Resolutions that Aren't About the Gym

I'm a little bit late to the New Year's Resolution party, but I've noticed the usual trend. Lots of people, including myself, added "go to the gym" to their list of ways they would like to improve this year. While I agree that fitness is an important part of one's life and should not be neglected, I don't think that it should be the end-all-be-all for someone who is looking to improve their physical or mental health in 2020. Getting to the gym every day is hard. It often requires research, time, money, and consistency that might not be sustainable in your everyday life. It is easy to feel like a failure when you don't manage to pull it off as often as you want to. My goal in this article is to remind you that your health is not contingent on whether or not you undertake what can be a very demanding hobby. There are many ways to develop yourself and gain a greater sense of wellness even if a rigorous gym schedule isn't for you. 

From my personal list of resolutions I've chosen a few that I think are really going to help me improve my mental and physical health in the new year, and I've compiled them as a sort of inspiration list for anyone looking for a different take on self-improvement for 2020. 


  1. 1. Go to Bed by 11 as Often as Possible

    Sleep is essential to your health because it allows your body to process the day. Neglecting your sleep schedule denies your body the rest it needs to function and leaves your mind less prepared to deal with stressors and stimuli. I'm a night owl, too, so I personally know how difficult this seems, especially if you have homework or a job that requires you to stay up late. But promise me, take some time to figure out a sleep schedule that works for you. It will change your life. 

  2. 2. Stick to a Cleaning Schedule

    This one seems boring, but hear me out. No one can concentrate in the middle of a mess. The process of cleaning is satisfying, and if you do a little bit every day you'll never have to gut your whole room to clean it out ever again. By taking small steps, like cleaning up just one room or dealing with a tiny handful of tasks per day, it won't make you feel like you've overwhelmed your schedule, but you'll still reap the benefits of a clean room on a regular basis. Your space is often a reflection of how you are handling the world around you, and when it's messy you may feel like you've lost control. A clean room can encourage a clear mind and help you relax. 

  3. 3. Start Assignments the Day they are Assigned

    If any resolution has drastically reduced the amount of stress in my life, it's this one. Even if it seems like you're drowning in assignments, at least starting most of your projects on the day they're assigned will take so much weight off of your shoulders. Sometimes, just getting started gives you the momentum to go ahead and finish something early. However, if you don't finish the assignment right away, that's totally fine. The benefit of this resolution is that when you go back to work on it again, not only will you have something to respond to and develop, you'll already have made it through some of the required problems or word count. 

  4. 4. Develop Healthier Eating

    This one is close to the gym resolution, but represents a different type of health. Let me explain. This resolution does NOT mean "diet." It does not mean that you should agonize over calories or weigh yourself every day. It means you should think about how you feel when you eat certain things, think about what makes you feel good and what doesn't. This is another resolution that can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health. For me, I realized that I needed to have a more balanced meal schedule. I also realized that by indulging in quick and easy options at the dining hall, not only was I neglecting my nutrition, I wasn't making the most of all of the great options for fruits, veggies, and proteins available to me. This resolution encouraged me to expand my options and listen to my body more when it comes to my nutrition. I want to note, I have not lost any weight because of this resolution. However, I have had more energy to do the things I like to do and I just feel better while I'm going about my day. That was the key benefit of this resolution, not to mention I work better when I'm not feeling nauseous or hungry. 

  5. 5. Make Time to Make Something

    Music, art, dance, etc. It honestly doesn't even have to be art. Maybe you're making a plan to surprise your friends, maybe you like to contribute to a club or organization. Making things is one of the greatest releases of stress and it allows you to develop a skill that you are interested in. This resolution also serves as motivation to learn something new. Sign up for a class or join an extracurricular activity! Buy a sketchbook and fill it all the way up! Learn new songs for your instrument and find a good spot to play! No one is stopping you from doing that thing you've always wanted to do. Making things also helps you unplug from social media in a creative and productive way. Throw on a podcast, open a window, and give it your best shot. It's a great way to unwind. 

  6. 6. Read More Often

    This doesn't mean that you have to go from zero to War and Peace in one day, but it does mean that we have no excuse not to read when books are the most accessible they've ever been. If you're a paper-and-ink person, like me, maybe you want to take on a longer book as a challenge. If you're somebody who's more interested in science or current events or pop culture, there are tons of articles being written every day about the topics you love to learn about. Contrary to popular belief, technology and reading are not mutually exclusive. Reading about what you're into expands your knowledge on the subject and keeps you informed about what's going on in your field. Also, just like the last resolution, reading is a way to relax and take a break from your busy day, even if it's just for a few minutes at a time. If you're looking for a place to start, Her Campus is a great place where young women have written about everything from Politics to Parties, and I'd be surprised if there wasn't an article out there for you. 

There's not really a "right" way to go about self development. The resolutions above are all things that have worked for me, and I hope that even if you cannot relate, you can at least be inspired to think of different ways you want to improve yourself in the coming year. Any progress towards your goals is good progress. When you see health as a state of being rather than a "look," you can find ways to become truly happy with yourself and take care of your mental and physical health in harmony. I'm excited to see how the rest of this year pans out, and I hope you all have a Happy New Year!