We hope you had a wonderful holiday season! As we look to the coming year, we hope to maintain the good habits established last year and continue to invest in self-improvement and health promotion as we strive to embody the best versions of ourselves. While some time will be spent on self-care in this month’s newsletter, we would be remiss if we didn’t also discuss keys to successful, sustainable behavior change that many seek with their new year’s resolutions.
The last month of the year is typically chaotic and December 2021 was no exception. While life continues to be action-packed at the start of the year, we encourage you to carve out some time to reflect. In order for this year to truly be different from the last, we need to set our intentions and make a plan. While often overlooked, misunderstood or deemed as indulgent, self-care needs to be a priority in that plan.
In considering self-care, we look to the habits and behaviors that the world’s longest living people have in common. These factors enable them to live with vibrance well into their 80s, 90s, and beyond. When self-care is neglected, motivation is replaced with burnout, resentment, and discontent. By prioritizing self-care, we are better able to sustain high performance in all aspects of our lives. As the advice goes, we must ‘put our oxygen mask on first’.
Self-care looks different for all of us – it could be reading a book, dedicating time to beloved hobbies or discovering new ones, massage, meditation, spending time in nature, journaling, infrared sauna, etc. The key is that whatever you choose to incorporate into your self-care plan, you make it a priority to stick with it so long as it brings you joy. If your self-care plan begins to feel like a chore, it is time to re-evaluate!
Prioritizing Self-Care in the New Year
Why make self-care a priority?
- Improves longevity. Promotes health and happiness improving quality of life
- Helps us overcome insecurities, limitations, or old narratives that prevent us from living our best life
- Enables us to best care for others
Question to ask yourself when considering your self-care:
- Are you actively and consistently pursuing activities and people who cultivate joy in your heart?
- Do you feel energized and excited about your life or drained and depleted?
- What could you do, what action could you take, to feel better at the end of today than you did yesterday?
Daily Accountability for a Successful Self-care Routine
- Consistent Movement: Many of us are glued to our chairs throughout the day. Making a commitment to movement as a part of our daily routine can really aid in our self-care by helping us wind down (upregulate the parasympathetic nervous system) and improving focus and productivity. This could be unstructured exercise like walking, gardening, cleaning, or riding a bike, or more structured activities like weight training or yoga.
- Create a Ritual: Much like we talk about sleep hygiene being a routine that signals the body to prepare for sleep, building practices around self-care that create the space for it is important. This could mean adjusting lighting, playing music, enjoying a cup of tea – anything that would serve to remind you and your body that it is time to shift gears.
- Find the Right Atmosphere & Community: Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who have shared interests and are supportive of your investment in yourself. Self-care does not need to be an independent activity; in fact, enjoying time with others can be critical to a successful self-care plan.
Signs You May be Neglecting Your Self-care
- Feeling mentally and physically exhausted; experiencing burn out
- Irritability, moodiness, negativity, or isolating yourself from others
- Disruptions to sleep and eating habits – indulging in behaviors that feel good in the moment but set us back (such as increased alcohol consumption, late night tv watching)
- Feeling disorganized, unaccomplished or disdain for your career or life path
By having a self-care plan in place and following through with its execution, you are setting yourself up to achieve all that you have set out to do in the coming year. Think of self-care like taking the time to clear off your desk before sitting down to work – it doesn’t take much time but can make you more efficient, productive, and content. With our oxygen masks securely in place, we can shift our attention to our goals for the new year and focus on how to achieve them.
New Year, New Chapter
The new year feels like a blank canvas for most. During the last few weeks of every year, we find ourselves looking forward and back in order to identify where we would like to improve in the coming year. In Tracey’s article for the Los Altos Town Crier last month, she discussed the benefits of this process along with pitfalls to avoid as the year gets rolling. Given that most people abandon their resolutions before the end of the month, Tracey offered the following advice to aid you in setting your intentions and making them a reality this year:
- Choose Wisely. Ask yourself these questions to be assured that you are expending energy where it is needed:
- How would my life be different if I followed through on my new year’s resolutions?
- How would I feel different?
- What would look different?
- How would my relationships be different?
- Plan to Act. Knowing that failing to plan is planning to fail, Tracey suggests we determine the small steps that can be taken consistently. Small changes applied over time yield big results.
- Celebrate Success. Having a sense of progress is key to maintaining motivation. Instead of beating yourself up about the missteps or harshly judging the size of the step as not enough, celebrate all the steps – big and small – taken in a positive direction.
- Reflect on Change. Learning is the opposite of stagnation. Every change we try to make is an opportunity to learn something, whether that is about ourselves or about the move itself. Carve out a few minutes each week to think about what is happening as a result of the small changes you are making daily.
How to Make it Happen
“Decide the type of person you want to be, and prove it to yourself with small wins”
– James Clear
Identify the System and Achieve Success: When building new habits, it’s important not to get wrapped up in the idea of going 110% if you haven’t managed the first 5%. James Clear, the writer of Atomic Habits, says that “habits are the compound interest of self improvement. The same way that money multiples through compound interest, the effects of your daily habits multiply as you repeat them.”
What seems like a small difference in the beginning only leads to a greater impact in the long run. Many of us get impatient with the process and give up due to the rate of transformation. Instead of waiting for the final result, what if we start enjoying and looking forward to the process instead? If you completely ignored your goal and focused solely on the system pertaining to that goal, how would the likelihood of success increase? When we understand that results have little to do with our goals and more to do with the systems we implement for those goals, we start to see the hard work paying off. Goals are good for guidance and direction but when unfavorable problems arise, we often hyper focus on the goal when we really need to design a system that prepares us for both success and failure. Create a system, stick with it, and improve day by day. Keep it simple and work on changes little by little.
We change bit by bit, day by day, habit, by habit. We are continually undergoing microevolutions of the self. -James Clear in Atomic Habits
If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail
Coaches Tip: Katie
Before I get into my tip for goal setting, resolutions, and success, I highly recommend reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book is a really helpful tool when deciding to make behavior changes in life. After so many years of failing to follow through with past commitments, perpetuating habits that don’t align with our goals, and constantly yearning for immediate gratification, it’s time to create actual change. More than a resolution, it’s about destroying the narrative, “I can’t”, “It’s too hard”, “I’ve always been like this”, and “maybe I’ll try again next year”. Start planning in order to stop failing, identify your goal, create a system, embrace the process, break the plateau and find your success. If the past three years have taught us anything, it’s to seize the day and take responsibility for what we want our future to look like.
My biggest successes have come from keeping my head down, trusting the process, and being patient. Coincidentally, most of these are recommendations that are made in Atomic Habits. I aim to focus on the non-negotiables as I make goals to improve my health. For example, I block off time in my schedule three days a week so I know I have no excuse to bail on my workouts. When I need to read more, I place my book under my pillow so I remember to read fifteen minutes before bed, and when I feel I need to stay hydrated, I set a timer every two hours to make sure I’m consuming enough water throughout the day. Keep it simple, create a system or a plan, and focus on the small changes and proper accountability – you’ll be amazed by all that you are able to achieve.
Buy a copy of Atomic Habits on Amazon HERE.
In Closing, Help Us Share the Warmth One Coat at a Time
One Warm Coat – Sharing Warmth One Coat at a Time
Because of the economic crisis created by COVID-19, demand for coats in most communities is up by an average of 50%. We hope that as a FiT community we can help address this need by hosting a coat drive through One Warm Coat from January 12th to February 11th. We will be accepting coats of all sizes in good condition with no rips or holes. Financial donations will also be accepted – every $1 collected warms one person through the Coat Drive Program.
Drop off coats at FiT or donate HERE.