The days between Halloween and New Years tend to be a danger zone for those of us who struggle with food. It's the time of year when tensions rise and even the most normal of eaters let their healthy habits slip.
I have been thinking about my own intentions and asking myself why I am able to easily maintain some habits while struggling with others. Research shows that people who are able to create healthy habits don’t have more discipline, they have more self-compassion. This means that the problem is not a lack of motivation, but a counterproductive mindset that undermines our efforts.
Yikes. I spent most of my life beating myself up, depriving myself, and hating my body. I know I am not alone in this. We live in a culture that emphasizes outward appearances over all else and rewards self-sacrifice. How then do we cultivate a mindset that leads us to self-compassion? The answer is self-care.
What is Self-Care?
We've all heard the term self-care, but what does it really mean and how can we put it into practice? At its core, self-care is any action you take to care for your health – be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. Unfortuantely, consistently practicing self-care is challenge for most of us, especially when food and body issues are involved.
As you might imagine, self-care encompasses a broad range of habits and behaviors. From the foods we eat to the ways we manage stress, we make hundreds of tiny decisions every day that affect our wellbeing. Most of us want to be healthier, but actually putting these habits into practice can feel overwhelming and complicated.
How to Practice Self-Care
First, we have to figure out which self-care habits to work on. Each of us has unique self-care challenges so it's important to evaluate which habits we have mastered and where we want to fill the gaps.
If you struggle with your your weight, addressing practical habits around the food you eat and the way you move your body are a great place to start. If you have a tendency toward depression, focusing on regular grooming and social connection might be most beneficial.
Create a Self-Care Action Plan
Once you have chosen a few self-care activities to adopt into your daily routine, think about how and when you will incorporate these actions into your day. Write them down and commit to them. It may be helpful to set aside a specific time each day or schedule them in your calendar.
Accountability and Connection
Having support and accountability is a critical component in successful behavior change. As I was examining my own goals and creating a self-care action plan, I wanted to connect with more people who are also working toward the best version of themselves. I've started tagging my photos that show self-care practices using #SelfCareProject and I would love for you to do the same. I will be following that hashtag to keep up with everyone on instagram and I even have some fun prizes to award every week through the end of the year.
My goal is for this to be an ongoing series of blog posts highlighting different areas of self-care in more depth with strategies and examples. Is this something you would like to see? Please leave a comment and let me know if you have any specific questions or topics you would like me to write about.