Self-care tips to bring into the new year

Michelle Velan, Wondersource Founder

While self care is important, practicing self care isn’t as simple as it sounds. For instance, how do you know what you need? How do you know when to push yourself and when to relax? How do you prioritise that care appropriately? What can you do to feel better right now?

In my experience of trial and error and my pursuit for strategies to live with more clarity, joy and fulfilment, I’ve learned that while taking care of the basics – sleep, eating well, meditating, drinking enough water – will benefit everyone, there is no one size fits all solution when it comes to self-care and supporting your mental health.

For example, important areas of focus for me when practicing self-care and supporting my mental health have been around learning to trust myself more and as a result overthink less, taking the time to understand what I want in situations and letting “good enough” be enough. And through the process of working on myself, I’ve had to uncover false beliefs that were unhelpful and holding me back. Even though we all share universal needs – to love and be loved and feel good enough – we’re all different and need to nurture and care for ourselves in different ways. This will also continue to evolve. 

With that in mind, here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned on self-care that I’m taking into 2022. I hope there are some in the list that will resonate with you.

  1. Take good care of yourself. Meditate, exercise, eat healthy unprocessed foods, drink water, go for a walk in nature. In my personal experience, the better I take care of myself, the kinder and quieter my inner voice becomes.
  2. Be gentle with yourself and others. This should be the foundation for living a better, healthier life. Talk to yourself like you would talk to a child that you love and are responsible for. This is a great short and profound story of transformation that teaches you how to heal yourself by learning to love yourself.
  3. Get enough sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, like many people do, take the time to develop a wind down routine that works for you. In my case, I regularly put my phone away two hours before bed, wear my glasses designed to block out blue light (Foxman frames), I stop eating three hours before bed and I stop having caffeine past noon. For days where I’m really struggling, I put my phone away earlier, I take a shower or bath before bed and I read before bed.
  4. Slow down and listen to your inner guide to know what you need. Sometimes you need to push yourself. Other times you need to rest. Your gut usually knows what is needed. Self-care is not all about resting. It’s about nurturing yourself and showing up for yourself and your dreams. Sometimes that may mean resting or carving out time to catch up with a friend, other times that may mean putting your phone on silent and writing the blog article you promised yourself you will do. If you know you need to push yourself and you’re not sure where to start, a coach can be a great support. Whether it’s challenging and reframing toxic and limiting beliefs, providing encouragement or helping you draft a plan that you can actually commit to, they are trained to help you thrive.
  5. Journal. It is a powerful tool to relieve stress, gain clarity, develop self-awareness and support your goals. There is no right or wrong way to journal. When you develop a consistent practice, you will slowly learn how you like to journal. If you’re in need of inspiration, write down your hopes and dreams and intentions. Journal about the life you want to create. And if they seem like a far stretch and you don’t know how you will get there, that’s ok! Figuring out what you want is the first step. Once you’ve written it down, it’s much easier to address any doubts or fears and make moves in the right direction. Ask yourself if you have any doubts and list them all out. Then address each one and write back to it. For instance, maybe you want to start a blog but you don’t consider yourself a good writer. You can remind yourself that everyone had to start somewhere and all the successful people you look up to, faced countless “failures”. “If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.” – James Cameron
  6. Practice gratitude. Carve out time to write down 3-5 things you’re genuinely grateful for. It doesn’t matter how important or insignificant they may seem. Taking the time to pay attention to the things you’re grateful for not only makes you feel immediately better, but studies show it can improve both your mental and physical health.
  7. Choose a personal mantra that resonates with you and repeat it to yourself when it makes sense.
  8. Self-awareness and integrity are often overlooked but are important facets of good mental health. As a starting point, you have to know what you want, to be able to move towards things that will make you happy, peaceful and fulfilled. Be honest with yourself and get clear on who you want to be, what you want to build and why. Consistently, give yourself space to reflect on your genuine goals, dreams and feelings.
  9. Laugh, smile more and choose the lighter path more often. This doesn’t mean ignoring your true feelings, but when challenging situations come up, remind yourself that you have a choice to choose the lighter path (whatever that means to you). For instance, maybe it means reminding yourself that you don’t have to react or you don’t have to have an opinion. Here’s a great Tim Ferris podcast episode on the topic of choosing the lighter path.
  10. Accept that fear and self-doubt are normal parts of being human and usually not a sign that you should give up. Everyone feels fear and doubt sometimes! Develop a gentle inner voice and narratives that encourage you to keep moving forward towards your dreams even when you have doubt. Here’s a helpful narrative I use: confidence is not the belief that we won’t meet obstacles, it’s the recognition that difficulties are an inescapable part of all worthwhile contributions.
  11. Forgive yourself continuously. Growth isn’t perfect and nor are we. If something didn’t work out the way you hoped, don’t take it as an opportunity to punish yourself. Recognise that it’s a normal part of being human, forgive yourself and keep going!
  12. Stop comparing yourself. It only makes you feel bad. Everyone’s on their own journey. Instead, you can learn more about yourself if you feel jealous – and perhaps it’s a reminder that you want to work towards something. And if you’re feeling stuck or left behind, remind yourself that the grass is greener where you water it and with consistent useful effort towards meaningful goals, your time will come. Be honest with yourself about who you want to be, what you want to achieve and why and show up for yourself every day.
  13. Stop seeking external validation or approval. Nurture your own individuality and creativity! Of course sometimes you need to talk things through to gain clarity or find a more empowering perspective. Make sure the person you talk to is someone whose opinion you value, who you trust and you feel wants the best for you. Either way, be mindful because continuously looking to others for answers can chip away at your confidence. Learn to trust yourself by listening and honouring your intuition more often. Doing that doesn’t mean you will always get it “right” but with time you will start to better understand your intuition and acting on the guidance will help you grow more confident.
  14. Get comfortable seeking the right support. Whether it’s talking with a trusted friend about a stressful situation, coaching to reduce stress, improve negotiations or overcome a limiting belief, a functional medicine practitioner to get to the root cause of a health issue or sleep better or a personal trainer to help you with your fitness goals and stay consistent. We all need support.
  15. Spend time with people you love and respect. Surround yourself with people who make you feel seen, secure and supported. If you don’t have that yet, that’s ok. Recognising that you want more fulfilling healthy relationships is the first step to making it happen. There are so many ways to meet new people. For example, try joining a class that’s of interest, signing up to Bumble friends or volunteering. That being said, be mindful of your relationships – if you consistently feel badly or drained around certain people, reduce your time with them or even recognise that the relationship may no longer work for you.
  16. Get organised and set meaningful goals that are aligned with your life vision. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some journal prompts we find helpful when considering our goals for the next year. Where do I want to be this time next year? What are my most important goals for next year? How do I plan to achieve them? What two changes can I make to better support my health next year? How can I be more of a magnet for all the things I want to attract next year?
  17. Take useful consistent action towards your set goals. Without dedicated action, your goals become wishful thinking and you will fall short.
  18. Know that you are worthy and enough exactly as you are. Take the time to develop this belief along with a healthy sense of entitlement. If you don’t feel it yet, don’t worry! Through journaling, consistently talking back to negative self-talk, working with a coach or therapist, and taking better care of yourself, you can cultivate this belief.
  19. Be more consistent. Everything worthwhile in life requires consistent useful action.
  20. Read quality books.
  21. Live within your means and start investing. With compounding, a small starting base can lead to results so extraordinary that they seem to defy logic.
  22. Keep learning and learn a high income skill. Whether it’s coding, sales, negotiating, writing, keep upskilling. 
  23. Keep important things private and don’t overshare.
  24. Take more risks and step out of your comfort zone often.
  25. Help people in need with no expectation of getting anything in return.
  26. Prioritise values that are important to you. For me they change somewhat throughout life, but the ones that have remained constant are gratitude, kindness, humility, perseverance and integrity.
  27. Do more of what makes you genuinely happy and fulfilled. It can be hard to drown out the noise and listen to your inner voice when it comes to what makes you happy, but it’s so important to do. Whether it’s going out with friends, reading a good book or working on your blog, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to your happiness. Focus on what gives you energy and reduce the activities that drain you.
  28. Stop judging yourself and others. Hold ideas and beliefs loosely.
  29. Overthink less and trust yourself more. Critical thinking is a valuable skill and one that seems to be cultivated less and less these days. That being said, there comes a point when critical thinking can move into overthinking and that doesn’t serve you. When you find yourself feeling indecisive or stuck, try letting go of it for a while or surrendering it and asking for guidance. Then pay attention and see what comes.
  30. Accept and honour your feelings. When we are honest with ourselves and accept our feelings as they are, we gain awareness and then we can process them.

 

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