The start of a new year often brings with it energy for change and goal setting. However, this year might be different; after two long and limiting pandemic years, resolutions and intentions might feel overwhelming and unnecessary given the challenges we are facing. If you feel this way, you are not alone. Professor Lesley Lutes, from UBCO, says about 95 per cent of people will have abandoned their resolutions by the end of January.
Maybe being our best selves means just being. Self-compassion practice can help us in this year of ongoing disruptions in our routines or with the fatigue might be experiencing. It’s also a time where we are bombarded by social media messaging around diet culture and curated images of perfection. Now is a good time to chart a different path to wellbeing – let's start with self-care.
Finding ways to care for ourselves
Self-compassion is about giving yourself the same kindness and care that you would to a good friend. Two simple ways of practicing self-compassion include:
Noticing any internal, self-critical thoughts and actively reframing, or replacing those thoughts with something gentle and kind.
Paying attention to stress and difficult emotions and giving yourself permission to make space for those feelings by naming them and by taking some deep cleansing breaths.
Rest and boundary setting are also compassionate self-care practices. We need to be able to say no, or not right now when we are overwhelmed. Scaling back and slowing down, where we can. This will help preserve energy for the things we cannot say no to, like work, family and caregiving responsibilities.
Sleep and rest also help our system to function optimally. The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines recommend 7-9 hours of good quality of sleep for adults. The key to this is consistent bedtime and wake-up time. Changing our sleep habits might be one of the most powerful self-care efforts we can take in 2022.
Forming healthy habits
If you want to set goals for 2022, try breaking big goals into smaller, more manageable chunks and seeking support from others can help us to reach our targets. Goals are great but forming sustainable habits can be a pathway to longer-term success.
Two helpful strategies for habit formation from James Clear, author of the best seller Atomic Habits, might be a good place to start.
Set up your environment for success: Rearrange your environment so that it helps you form lasting habits. Try to set up cues and what you need readily available and visible.
- If you want to drink more water throughout your day, have a water bottle at your desk
- To move more, set a timer for a reminder to stretch every hour
- Keep your running shoes by your desk or the front door
- Leave a book beside any digital screens if you want to read more.
Focus on starting: When you emphasize only outcomes, you can quickly lose interest — particularly if you don’t achieve early success. Make any plans for change simple and sustainable by channelling your energy into taking those first few steps rather than where you want to be. Make time to reflect your feelings in mind and body with each step you take.
There is lots to look forward to this year at UBC. If you are looking to try some new activities, connect with colleagues, and be less sedentary as the colder and darker winter months wind down. And Move UBC is right around the corner. There will be fun, inclusive, and diverse opportunities for everyone to move more, move well, move anywhere, and move for the planet!
Wherever you are at we wish you well this 2022.
Clear, J. (2018). Atomic Habits. Avery Publishing.
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