A Self-Care Guide for the New Year

    2019 is officially upon us, but in the midst of all our celebrating and reminiscing on the past year, many of us are trying to come up with our annual list of new year’s resolutions. At the end of each year, people around the world make a set of goals they wish to achieve within the new year. However, many tend to fall short on their resolutions, only to begin the following year with the same set of goals; it’s a never-ending cycle of setting goals, trying them for a week, failing, giving up, and then starting all over again. Fortunately, I’ve drafted a list of new year’s resolutions that won’t have you stressed out and wanting to give up; in fact, they’ll do quite the opposite. This new year, rather than setting goals that have you changing your entire lifestyle, such as cutting out junk food or working out every day, focus on simply taking care of yourself. It seems small, but you’d be surprised how often we lose track of ourselves due to stress, school, or work. 2018 has, seemingly, been a rough year for most of us, and we can only hope our lives in 2019 take a positive turn. A better life starts with us, and we should make sure we focus on ourselves this year. Self-care has a different meaning to each individual person, but for starters, here is a five-step guide to help you focus on you this year:


  1. Drink more water.

This is perhaps one of the simplest yet most important things you can improve. Drinking water can help keep your skin clear, keep you hydrated, and also keep you quenched all day so you won’t be tempted to eat or drink more than you should. Sugary beverages and sweets can be tempting, and while it isn’t bad to have something sweet every now and again, it can definitely be detrimental when you have too much. If you want to feel happier, healthier, and overall more refreshed, try to make sure you drink at least two liters of water each day to keep you hydrated and healthy and cleanse your body of any waste or toxins.


    2. Schedule breaks for yourself each day.

Allotting specific periods of time for yourself each day should not be seen as a bad thing or a way of procrastinating. Just as you schedule time for yourself to get some work done or grab some dinner, you should designate specific time for self-care just the same. Find a small ounce of time within your busy schedule to squeeze in a conversation with your best friend or the next episode of the show you haven’t been able to finish. While you’re traveling home from work or waiting for the oven to heat so you can cook dinner, find something you can do that relaxes you and eases some of the stress and tension you face each day.


3.    Express your emotions, don’t hide them.

Understanding your emotions and realizing it is okay to express them is a crucial factor in our happiness. Everyone handles emotions in different ways, and what upsets you may bring a sense of happiness or relief to somebody else. Many of us are afraid to show too much of our emotions at the risk of feeling vulnerable, or even annoying. Something we should all be more conscious about is the fact that everyone has different opinions and emotions, and it’s not a bad thing to express them. It is perfectly normal to be happy and laugh, and it is perfectly normal to be sad and cry. What’s not perfectly normal is being made to feel like your emotions and feelings aren’t valid. So embrace them, express them, and don’t be afraid to feel.


    4.    Meditate.

When we hear the word “meditate,” many of us picture a person sitting on the ground with their legs crossed while humming quiet “ommmm’s”. This, however, is not always the case. While that may be how meditation is portrayed in movies and the way we imagine it in our heads, it’s actually just a simple breathing exercise. All you have to do is sit in a comfortable position, keep your back straight and your muscles relaxed, close your eyes, and take a deep breath in through your nose, and out through your mouth. It’s a simple process, but when you close your eyes and just focus on your breathing, it’s as if the world around you fades away and all the problems and worries you’ve been facing disappear for a while, making you feel calm and relaxed. Meditation doesn’t work for everyone, and everyone has their own approach to it, but it can’t hurt to experiment and find something that works for you. All you need to do is breathe because even something as simple as that can be hard to do when we’re so caught up in the roller coaster that is life itself.


    5.    Treat yourself. Put yourself first.

“Treating yourself” can be dangerous, since many of us never quite know when to stop. But “treating yourself” doesn’t necessarily have to mean buying yourself expensive things or eating the last chocolate chip cookie. Treating yourself means putting yourself and your needs before others. Of course, we like to help and support our family and friends, but sometimes when we are trying our best to be there for our loved ones, it becomes hard for us to be there for ourselves. Considering your own needs and your own happiness is not selfish -- it’s necessary. It is not our duty to make sure everyone around us is happy and healthy. We are responsible for our own lives, our own happiness, and we should always make sure we are asking ourselves, “Am I happy?” or “Is this good for me?” in any situation we find ourselves in. It is okay to want to support others and be happy for those we care about, but we can’t forget to support and take care of ourselves when it’s important; especially when deciding if we should just go ahead and eat that last chocolate chip cookie.


This past year, the topic of self-care has gained lots of attention, because it is so important for us to do, yet we often forget to do it. Between school or work, our social lives, sleep, and our hectic schedules, the average person barely gets a minute to rest. So, this year, instead of coming up with your traditional list of resolutions, try making just one big one -- take care of yourself, because this life is yours, and no one or nothing else can jeopardize your well-being.