This year has been a major year for self care lessons – for me, and many others. Over the last few years, we have all gone through more than any of us could have imagined. We have lost loved ones. We have dealt with lockdown. We have gone from a global pandemic to things suddenly going back to normal. The thing is that we don’t know what normal means anymore. Almost every person I know is battling major fatigue and burnout – physically, mentally and emotionally. I have not been looking after myself this year because I have been too focused on simply trying to survive the year. Rather than putting more pressure on myself by setting goals for the new year that will be hard to keep, I’m taking a different approach. I’m looking at my biggest self care lessons from this overwhelming year.
From getting my sleep routine back in order to trying not to go so hard on myself, here are just a few of my self care lessons from this past year.
My Biggest Self Care Lessons This Year
I started this blog in November 2018. Back then, the idea of self care seemed so simple. I was eating properly, doing yoga daily, meditating every morning, journaling, and doing pretty much everything else to look after myself. Life happened, and things went haywire, as they do. I got back up again and started making healthier choices. Then suddenly everything changed when a global pandemic came along. By the end of 2020, I was already starting to struggle. By early 2021, things got even tougher. Then 2022 came along.
Here’s the thing, though. We cannot control what happens. We don’t know what 2023 is going to bring. What we can do is take a deep look at what we have been doing, to see how we can learn and grow. Lessons make it easier to move forward.
Here are a few of the biggest lessons I’m bringing into the new year.
Lesson 1: Sleep is everything.
Sleep has always been a major priority for me and this year I’ve been making even more effort to get the best sleep. I started doing yoga nidra last year. Slowly, I increased the length to around 30-45 minutes every night at bedtime. Simple things like bedding have made a massive difference in my sleep, too. As I tend to overheat at night, finding the right balance between being cosy and too warm is essential. After enduring awful bedding that had me constantly removing duvets and swapping them out with blankets, I was thrilled to discover Comfy. The Luxury Pima Cotton range is so ridiculously soft that it makes getting out of bed hard. Getting into my soft bed and then doing my yoga nidra in the dark feeling super relaxed means I often fall asleep before my meditation ends. Next year, I want to start increasing the length of my meditation practice (and invest in more quality bedding, too).
Lesson 2: Stress eating causes more stress.
I am a stress eater, so when things get hectic, my healthy eating plans go out the window. My weaknesses this year have been UberEats and online grocery shopping. Both of these made it easier to make unhealthy choices. When I am not going into a store and physically looking at items, planning out meals and choosing healthier snacks, it’s easy to make impulsive decisions. Stress eating only continues the stress cycle, however. Simple things like eating a proper breakfast make a big difference. Making mindful choices also helps. So does meal prep.
Lesson 3: It’s okay to not be okay.
This sounds like a cheesy motivational quote. But it’s something we overlook time and time again. It’s been a very rough year for me personally. Many other people in my life have been dealing with huge challenges, too. Globally, there is a collective grief, fear, exhaustion and overwhelm that has built up over the last few years. Often, I start to feel guilty for struggling. That makes me feel worse. I am trying to remind myself that it’s okay to not be okay and that my struggles are still difficult, even if others are struggling, too. We don’t have to be okay all the time. We can cocoon, have a cry, acknowledge that things are unfair or that we are not coping and also be aware that others are battling. It’s not a competition.
Lesson 4: Change is inevitable
Finally, we have the biggest lesson of all… dealing with change. I struggle with change. As someone who needs control, I hate not knowing what is going to happen. There have been many big changes in my life this year. Even bigger changes are coming next year. Resisting change makes everything harder. Embracing change and accepting that we cannot control everything is massively important to our growth and stress levels. Acceptance also plays a big role in self care. This means learning to stop fighting change. It’s a work in progress for me… but I’m getting there, slowly but surely.
With so much to look back on and so much lying ahead, I’m going to be carrying these lessons into the new year. Growth is easily one of the biggest self care lessons of them all, which is why I’m making sure that I continue to learn… whatever 2023 may bring.