Friday, January 17, 2014

5 Ways to Be Kinder to Yourself in 2014

 photo OrchidGrey_December262013_zps109a2ee9.jpg
Sunrise in Maine on December 27th

You know that saying 'you're your own worst enemy'? I'm sick of being enemies with myself, I want to be friends. We're all guilty of beating ourselves up -- whether it's from time-to-time to all-the-time -- over whatever petty thing we might be hung up on, be it a bad habit, a past mistake, or a delusional body issue (I'm guilty of all three, if you're wondering).

This past holiday season, my stress level hit an all time high -- I found myself thrust, suddenly, into an exciting, but much more demanding role at work, and thus, seemingly, without any free time. My car broke down. The cat got sick. Chris's mom's house burned down. I had to purchase a last-minute plane ticket, at the airport. Among other things that I'd rather not talk about here, maybe eventually. And all that stress got the better of me, I was mentally beating myself on the daily about things real (work) and imagined (why does my neck hurt? It must be meningitis!) and stressing myself out, hardcore.

Coming out of that experience, a personal low in recent history, made me realize that I had to make some changes, not just for my sanity, but for the sanity of those around me. So, this year, I'm making some changes, and I thought I'd share a few things that have worked for me to quiet that inner critic, and become at least slightly better friends with myself. I'm not calling myself an expert, these are tings I'm working on right this minute, because I need to.

Read this. Read it again.
Read it, one more time, think about it every time you're tempted to criticize the body you were born with. Physically, I am generally very kind to my body (though I know I need more sleep) - I exercise it, feed it whole, good food in healthy amounts, use natural products to care for it, but mentally, I can be a total asshole. The things I'm guilty of saying to the reflection in the mirror are things I would never even think to say to a friend, a stranger on the street, anyone - so why is it OK for me to say those things to myself? This quote, for whatever reason, has helped quiet my inner mean girl. It just makes so much sense to me, and I've been repeating it until it sticks.

Invest in relationships
I'm guilty of being uncommunicative. I can blame any host of things - my job where I'm online 95% of the time, living far away from friends and family, blah, blah, blah. But, it's bullshit. When I was home for the holidays I was able to spend time with some of our best friends, and was reminded of just how wonderful the people around me are. And strengthening those relationships feels good, it gives me peace of mind, so why not work on it more?

Take a break from a bad habit
For like, 30 days. Bear with me (I know a lot of people roll their eyes at any mention of paleo or W30, but I have a point and it's not preachy, promise) - last fall Chris and I did the Whole 30 as a way to break some bad food habits (fun fact: I don't have a 'stop' button when it comes to sweets, even if they make me feel sick), the idea of the W30 is that it takes a minimum of 30 days to reset a craving/bad habit/etc. So at the start of this year, I applied that thinking to my spending habits, and boy am I learning a lot. This year I'm determined to make some changes financially, so not spending frivolously for 30 days is giving me some insight into where my money goes. I'm not sure what the next step is after 30 days, but I'll figure it out when I get there. I'm thinking maybe just thrift shopping and with a monthly limit? Anyone done something like this? What works?

Unplug. But like, really do it.
I've mentioned in many a monthly goal post how I want to unplug, but have I ever really succeeded? Not a chance. Like other habits, this one needed a crash course, and my mother's house offered that opportunity. No cell phone service, no internet, two TV channels. While, yes, I admit to checking and updating Instagram as soon as I got into a service area, it was refreshing to not be online at night and be able to really spend time with the people around me. My head felt clearer, my heart felt decongested. It's going to take some work to really apply this on a regular basis, but I'm getting there.

Get outside. Explore.
It's the season of hibernation, I want nothing more than to sit gloomily at my window and feel feelings. But, that does me absolutely no good, and I know that when it comes down to it, I'm a happier person after I've breathed in some fresh air and looked at the world around me. This past Sunday I went on a run - my first outdoor run in about five months - I went through the cemetery and up a street I've never seen before, and through another graveyard I've never explored before. And when I got back, I felt better. I want to invest less in things in 2014, I want to invest more in experiences. Day trips, hikes, etc.

I think it's important, for me at least, to remind myself that treating myself kindly doesn't automatically translate to treating myself (you know, like, to things?). It's these changes in habit and thinking that leave the most lasting impression, and those long-term changes are what matters.