2013 was, by all accounts, a pretty intense year.
I faced a lot of personal challenges and changes. I felt a lot of frustration and anger. I oftentimes had a hard time seeing around the difficulties that were facing me, and at times I blindly lashed out at the universe. Finding little solace in doing so, I would then lash out at the only seemingly tangible thing- myself.
I would tell myself cruel lies and think myself into corners, a habit I’ve been desperately trying to break.
Life is peculiar, however, and just as many people predicted- things are starting to look up as 2014 crests on the horizon. It’s strange how the cycle works. Sometimes “being in a rut” is a necessary growing process, a form of hibernation leading up to the next stage of personal evolution.
A lot of my misery began to disappear, or at least wane, when I began being kinder to myself. That’s something I’ve been striving for over the past several months after I realized I was headed towards another nervous breakdown.
Really, it can be hard to be kind to yourself. It can be uncomfortable. Sometimes we’re told that we need to be as busy and as unforgiving towards ourselves as possible. Always have high standards, always keep moving, never stop thinking ahead- no wonder I was prone to daily existential crises.
Although 2013 was rough, I know I’m going into 2014 with a lot of new insight. Being kind to myself is going to be key to keeping myself healthy this year, and I have a hunch that a lot of us could use a dose of self-kindness on the regular.
1. Take Your Time
I walk fast. I think fast. I talk fast. I eat fast. Sometimes I do all of these things at once, and before long, I’m caught up in a flurry of activity that is so stressful it becomes extremely negative.
You see, despite what the clock might say- I need time. We all need time.
So if you’re feeling particularly frustrated or nasty one day- I encourage you to take a 15-minute break to sit down and breathe. Maybe eat something you’ve been craving or drink some sort of lovely beverage. Go for a stroll (not a power walk or run, a stroll). Breathe while you’re doing this. Enjoy. Let yourself be quiet for those 15 minutes. Try and incorporate that purposeful “slowness” into more of your everyday life.
2. Use Kind Words
I’m bad at this. Like, I’m realllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly bad at this (especially when I’m running late or in rush hour traffic). I don’t find it necessary to censor myself all the time, and I oftentimes am unable to catch my angry words once they’re already on their way out, but I generally find myself feeling more centered when I’m not calling everyone and everything a mindless string of expletives. But beyond that, I also find myself feeling better when I don’t berate my body, appearance, or achievements using harmful self-language. So when you sit down and eat a cookie, take a sick day, or skip a workout, don’t sit there and call yourself a “fatass” or “lazy slob.” You’re a human being, and you deserve much better than that.
3. Stop The Workout Madness
While headed on my path to burnout, I got really sick. Part of this was probably due to the fact I was under a great amount of duress in my home life, but working out hard 4x a week and sleeping a few hours an evening did NOT help. While working out is a great source of stress relief, there will be times in your life when you simply need a break. This is completely OKAY.
Along those same lines- when I was finally recovered and ready to become active again, I had to ease myself back into the process. It helped to run or hike outside without any timing device or calorie counting device strapped to my person. I felt centered, connected to the Earth, and alive. I was also getting exercise, but I wasn’t consumed with the numbers or the time. Working out became less of a chore, and more of a game. As my life became more balanced overall, exercise became a natural part of my routine again, and a fun one at that.
Go beyond the November Facebook status updates. Write letters to people. Hug people. Be with people.
5. Recognize Your Needs
Another lovely Luna Luna staff writer, Joanna C. Valente, posted this article about kicking the apologizing habit. I think this pairs directly with this idea of honoring and recognizing your needs. You don’t have to be sorry for the space you take up, the body you’re living in, the way you move, or the physical and emotional needs you have. Take time to consider where your needs come from and then embrace them. Verbalize them in a way that isn’t an apology, and be honest with yourself and others.
Stop sacrificing yourself.
And on that note, happy (almost) 2014, xoxoxo!