Self-Care in 2021: Advice from Dr. Sarah
New year, new…year. It is amazing, even in a pandemic, we are hearing the same messages:
“Get to your goal weight!”
“Join this gym for only $1 this month!”
“Quit your vice, by just using this app!”
“Be a better, wife, husband, parent, employee…”
I don’t know about you, but the “new year, new you” mentality is exhausting. Fitness and wellness companies make their highest profits in January, but did you know the average new “gym rat” keeps up the consistent practice until the second week of February…just in time for those Valentine’s treats?
Could it be unrealistic expectations? If we fail, what does this mean for our worth? Could we possibly say, “See; I knew I couldn’t do it. Why did I even try".
Or could it be that we focus so hard on the things we need to change; we begin to see ourselves in a negative light…unworthy of feeling happy, if we don’t meet a goal.
Especially during this time, I would encourage you to focus on what you HAVE done, and what you CAN continue to do, to MOVE forward.
Our bodies may carry a little more physical weight this January, than in the past, but your body has also kept you alive during a pandemic. To quote Brené Brown, this is our FFT (first f@$king time) in a pandemic. We have never been here before. I repeat: WE HAVE NEVER BEEN HERE BEFORE.
We are in a constant state of arousal (think *fight, *flight, or *freeze), which creates cortisol (the stress hormone). Often times, cortisol likes to get comfy in and around our midsection (stomach, bum, and thighs). While I cannot change how you feel in your body, I encourage you to practice a little kindness for what your body looks like in the mirror today.
Believe it or not, you gained more in 2020 than a few (or more) extra pounds Can you reflect on the lessons from the year, instead of focusing on all the bad?
Now, I try to refrain from “toxic positivity”, or only looking at the positive and great things that happened. Let’s be real. 2020 sucked (sorry mom). It challenged us in ways we never knew we would be challenged. We were isolated, scared, anxious, depressed, worried, frustrated, mad, and exhausted.
I did learn some lessons in 2020, but more than anything, I was forced to find self-care. Completely restructuring my business, going through infertility, getting COVID, surviving in a pandemic etc. Without any self-care, I would have fallen apart. As therapists, we constantly talk about self-care, but guess what? We are human and need reminding, too.
So, I will head into this new year with the experience of 2020, continuing to force myself to practice self-care. Little by little, self-care becomes easier (think of a new routine), and becomes natural. Here are a few things I learn last year, and a few things I will try to continue this new year.
Going outside: How was this something I needed to learn?? At the beginning of the pandemic, I felt I was always on my computer (working on my business and doing telehealth). I was overwhelmed with sensory input. My legs were tired at the end of the day, I was dizzy, and my ears felt like they were ringing. I found that eating lunch outside, rejuvenated me. This summer, I made an effort to walk 26.2 each week. (READ EFFORT). While the colder weather interferes a bit, I will take a few moments each day for some deep breathing outside.
Here is some helpful information on Vitamin D: VITAMIN D
Yoga shapes: I let go of the “harder, faster, stronger” workouts at my gym (even those two classes-a-day behaviors) and focused more on the nurturing and restorative aspects of yoga. With our bodies in constant stress, these yoga practices are more what we need, than the “burn 500 calories/class” classes. Event hough our culture tells us we need to ride the Peloton, run the marathon, or stand on our head, MAYBE right now, we need to restore our bodies?
Here are some helpful online teachers:
If you would like to support a local studio, these are some that offer nurturing classes:
When searching for online yoga classes that nurture (or in-person if you feel safe), steer away from anything labeled as “power yoga”. Instead, look for yin, restorative, gentle class types.
Meditation and Mindfulness: With the world feeling like it is UPSIDE DOWN at times, these practices can help us feeling grounded, in control, and at peace. This a practice, not a PERFECT. Some days are harder than others! There are various apps out there, and you may not like the ones listed, but below are the ones I have found beneficial to me.
Before I list those, here is some information on scientific reasons that show the importance of mindfulness and meditation: MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION
Headspace: This app is pretty popular, and they often run deals. This past year, they offered a free year for healthcare professionals. HEADSPACE
Stop, Breathe, & Think: There is a version for kids and adults. It asks you to evaluate your feelings that day, and formulates a meditation for your needs that day. It is very accessible to kids, teens, and adults (this is one of my favorites). STOP, BREATHE, & THINK
Tara Brach: She is a psychologist, author, and teacher. Her voice is calming and kind. You can find her meditations (which are usually around 17 minutes) on Spotify, or on her website: TARA BRACH
Warm beverages: A hot cup of tea sounds even more pleasing in the cooler weather. My favorites are Rose Hips, Cinnamon Apple Spice, and Golden Milk (not tea, but really good for reducing inflammation).
Here is a great article, as to why warm beverages are important for us: HOT BEVERAGES
Bullet Journaling: While my husband uses his bullet journal for pragmatic reasons, it allows me to have a creative outlet, and look forward to days ahead. Below is an example of my journal, followed by a link.
Self-compassion: I said it before and will say it again: This is our FFT in a pandemic. We have been living in a constant state of grief, fear, anger, exhaustion, etc. It is okay if we didn’t meet that goal, finish the book, lose the weight…and just made it through. I am learning each day to practice self-compassion, and encourage you to, too.
Here are a few podcasts that have helped me this year:
Brené Brown’s UNLOCKING US
Dax Sheppard’s ARMCHAIR EXPERT
And any of Dr. Kristen Neff’s work. She has workbooks, and an entire, accessible website: DR. KRISTEN NEFF
May this year be full of light, love, and kindness; towards others and ourselves.
If you or your child is struggling with self-compassion, self-care, or managing the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to support you.