Pain, mental health issues or any type of chronic illness takes time out of our day, week, year. For some of us, a shower is a major undertaking, for others, getting dressed or getting out of bed is more work than we can manage.
This year, instead of making a list of resolutions I toss out by February, feeling like a total failure, I am making a list of the best self-care tips that cost little and are easy to accomplish. If you want to join me in creating a New Year’s list to help get through the hardest days, here are some suggestions to get you going. I am sure you can come up with dozens of ideas on your own.
- Listen to five-minute mindfulness or calming video (type in five-minute meditation on Google, and you will get an extensive list).
- Little kids have it down when it comes to security and making themselves feel comfortable. Let’s take a lesson from them and keep or buy a blanket that is a favorite and keep it readily available on our comfiest chair or couch. (Mine is a patchwork quilt, my husbands is a weighted blanket). Curl up under your blanket on difficult days.
- Go to the library, your favorite bookstore, or online shop and rent or buy a couple of books that you loved as a child. Maybe you were a fan of the Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys series. I was a huge fan of Judy Blume and recently read Hello, God it’s Me Margaret and Blubber to connect to my preteen self. It was so easy to see why I identified and loved those books so much. Reading these books that so influenced my childhood made me feel connected to the kid I once was.
- This is a well documented and almost cliché thing to put on this list, but if it didn’t help, I wouldn’t include it. Start each morning by saying one thing you are grateful for and end each day doing the same. The practice of gratitude does change our perception over time.
- Create a spiritual practice. For some people this might be saying a prayer, for others, it might mean lighting candles for friends or loved ones, (or for yourself) or it might mean naming people in your life that you want to bring to your awareness and thinking of them bathed in light, or positive A Spiritual practice looks different for everyone but can take our minds off of our pain or problems and makes us feel as if we are lifting others.
- Keep a guided journal. As a part of my daily routine, I write in twelve guided journals most days of the week. One journal is about gratitude, one is about mindfulness, one is about keeping lists of favorite things, and there are spiritual ones, and creative writing prompts ones. I also work through the guided journal I wrote and published this year that is designed to build self-confidence and coping skills. If this idea interests you, check a bookstore, there are dozens of guided journals on the market addressing many different things.
- Make blackout or erasure poetry. Blackout poetry is an easy wan inexpensive way to create works of art (poems). Take a magazine, newspaper or a book you bought at a thrift store, and use a sharpie or pen to cross out (blackout) the words you don’t want in your poem. There are times when I do this that I only have five to ten words left on the page, and those words make up my poem.
- Do stretches. If you can get on the floor and do five minutes of full-body stretches, great! If you can’t use your whole body, try stretching your toes, or fingers, or your facial muscles. Start where you are and at your ability. It is not a competition; it is a tool for feeling better.
- Make sure you adopt a favorite sweatshirt, t-shirt, robe, socks, pants, shorts, pajamas, etc. Favorite clothes can give us comfort that lasts all day.
- If you have a favorite drink (like chai tea, hot chocolate, cider, coffee, etc.) or favorite food, try to add it into your day if it isn’t something that adversely impacts your health. I eat a piece of dark chocolate because it has less sugar because my sugar levels are borderline.
These are just a few ideas for your self-care list, but I can bet that creating it will make you feel better than a list of resolutions that so often end up making us feel defeated by our lack of progress or success. A Self-care list almost guarantees a positive outcome all you have to do is care for yourself in the ways that make you feel the best, and there you have it, New Year success!