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Self-Care in 2024

January 17, 2024

New Year’s Resolutions – They Aren’t for Everyone

By Cathy Hom

Happy 2024! If you are like me, it’s that tempting time of year to set big goals and find yourself disappointed in about 4 to 5 weeks. Instead of likely failure, this year I am implementing a different strategy – a simple focus on Self-Care. Day to day we spend most of our waking hours, rushing through the day, juggling home, family, and work. It’s easy to understand how we lose focus on self-care. Without a mindful focus, I find myself deprioritizing it.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, self-care means taking the time to do things that help people live well and improve their physical and mental health.

“Self-care is important because it enhances our well-being by keeping us connected to ourselves and what matters most to us,” said Kaylee Crockett, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in the UAB Department of Family and Community Medicine. “It can help prevent illnesses from occurring or recurring, and it builds our capacity to handle stress and recover from adversity.”  

I reference a “simple focus” because it is easy to make this complicated; start researching, and you will see what I mean.

Here are my 2024 ideas for keeping it simple:

  • Physical – Get moving. Take the stairs, go for a walk, stretch. I also enjoy YouTube exercise videos. Keep it exciting by switching activities; try different styles of dance, yoga or stretching. I also find it helpful to have an exercise buddy to keep me motivated and accountable.
  • Diet – Eat more whole foods and less processed one. I enjoy cooking and I find joy in new recipes that have a lower fat/calorie content than the “original recipes” that many people grew up eating. Ellie Krieger’s, The Food you Crave is a great place to start. I also enjoy swapping recipes with family and friends who share the same interests.
  • Positive thinking – According to The Mayo Clinic, positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. It takes time to learn, so you have to practice like any learned habit.
  • Mindful Meditation – There are two Apps that I enjoy for this: Calm and Waking up. These Apps allow me to work at my own pace and to explore. There are many other resources available as well.
  • Sleep – Prioritize it. I find it helpful to stop looking at my phone/iPad/computer at least 1 hour before bedtime. While some people watch TV in bed, I find that is not good for me. Everyone should implement a strategy that works for them, and there is so much research regarding sleep you don’t have to look far for advice. Everyone needs a different amount, so figure out your number and get what you need.
  • Hobbies – Take time to do things that bring you joy. Again, schedule time if you can’t consistently fit in leisure activities.

Self-care is essential for maintaining a balanced and fulfilling life, and it can vary from person to person based on individual needs, preferences, and circumstances. It is a proactive and intentional approach to well-being that recognizes the importance of taking time for oneself amid the demands of daily life.

Cheers to a healthy 2024 for all!

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