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.


HazelxJoy said...

All great tips! Especially the first one (I did read it again), why are we so mean to ourselves?

iris said...

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail isn't too far away, and I've heard rumors that it has waterfalls. It's also near some Whitewater Rafting spots.

Oh, and the New River Gorge near Fayetteville, WV is also quite lovely for hiking.

Anonymous said...

ah thank you for this post! it's so refreshing to read. I know I definitely need to be a little kinder to myself this year (and from now on). I'm trying to stop biting my nails as one way to take better care of myself!

Rebecca @ tr[i]b[e]cca

Ceire said...

Really great post! I am definitely going to be kinder to myself too. Its terrible the way we can be our own worst enemies. Heres to a positive happy and healthy 2014 :) Love your blog btw.
Ceire x

Jessica Steele said...

A great post Julie - on the topic of shopping breaks, I have a friend (a fashion designer at that!) that took a vow not to shop for an entire year (aside from you know, new socks or something else that was absolutely needed). She completed the year and to this day said that it has such an impact on her shopping habits. Pretty extreme but I think even 30 days would provide a similar change of perspective when it comes to wants vs. needs. Best of luck with your goals xx

The Littlest Smitten said...

Great post. I've been thinking about similar ideas recently. Breaking bad habits and not wasting energy on things that aren't important. One of my goals is to not hibernate too much and get out more. Also just being around creative and inspiring people. Not wasting time on people who are negative and sick my energy.

Annika said...

Thank you for this inspiring and very honest post! I also want to love myself and my body more. I have the feeling that a lot of women struggle with this topic and I want to make a first step with breaking this habit :)

One of my goals is to work on my university papers at least twice a week. I want to finish university in fall and need to get my stuff together :)

Shopping is also a huge topic for me. I have to admit that I spent al lot of money on clothes. But from 2014 on I want to pay attention to quality (rather than quantity).

(Please excuse my english - I'm not a native speaker)

Good luck with your goals!

Emily said...

That's such a great goal- it's hard to change our mindsets about ourselves, but with practice it's possible. There is actually a really great Ted Talk about it by Kristin Neff... it's all about how we need to stop talking about "self esteem" and begin to think about "self compassion" instead. I watch it when I'm having one of those days where I can't stop being a jerk to myself!

Anonymous said...

I'm loving all these ideas, and have been setting similar goals for myself this year. The budgeting is really challenging, especially when it is so snowy out and I just want to go out and have nice dinners in cozy restaurants!

Also, this: "I want nothing more than to sit gloomily at my window and feel feelings" made me laugh out loud because I can totally relate; the way you put it is such a perfectly distilled description of that eyore-esque ennui that is so easy to access when the sky is the same color as the ground (grey) for days!

I read somewhere that, in meditation, the moment when you catch your mind wandering and bring yourself back to the moment is "enlightenment". I think that what you are doing with intending to be kinder to yourself, being in that space of awareness and intention is similarly powerful. So.. good on you! You can do it! :D


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