Acts Of Self-Care That’ll Last Longer Than Your New Year’s Resolutions
News flash: you won’t wake up an entirely new person on the 1st of January. No matter how promising your new year’s resolutions may be.
It takes a bit more than fireworks and bubbles to shake off the old. Or, to be completely honest, there’s no new you to begin with. Only more old. But older means wiser, right? And if there’s one thing this decade has taught us, wisdom is scarily scarce. But, not to worry, wisdom can be nurtured. More specifically: through nurturing yourself you can become wise(r). For me, self-care isn’t about reinvention, it’s about self-exploration. So why infiltrate the roaring twenties as a ‘new’ person and leave behind your years of knowledge?
Old habits die hard (it’s cliché, but true)
Self-care is a shape-shifter that can be whatever you name it to be. However, defining it as self-exploration helps to counteract cookie-cutter wishes that comes with a new year. You know, where you bet everything on the 1st of January to suddenly get everything ‘right’ right away. If everything isn’t ‘right’ right away, well, you’ll have to wait 364 days for another attempt. Which is a shame. Because no matter my cookie-cutting efforts, I always turn out misshaped. While we can blame this on too much bubbles, too much bubbles doesn’t explain the other 364 sober days. Because it’s not that the 1st of January has some serious bad karma that trips you up. It’s this ridiculous idea that you can *snap your fingers* and be and do and feel completely different than before.
Frankly, it’s more productive to work with what you got than to reimagine yourself as something you’re not. This doesn’t mean you’re forever stuck with this particular version of you. As the saying goes, it simply means that old habits die hard. Although habits are culturally based, they manifest physically. That is to say: your brain ingrains pathways for every habit. Old habits die hard because they’re literally a part of you; they’ve shaped your brain. The opposite goes for new habits. So, whether you’re desperately using defibrillators to keep a habit alive or want to kill one off, it takes time to get things properly in place upstairs.
But we don’t have time! Because when the clock strikes twelve…
But are bad habits really that bad?
There’s so much pressure on instant gratification that we’ve forgotten that you can’t optimise nothing. And while ‘new year, new you’ is meant as a motivation, its strong ties with reinvention implies that what you’ve got isn’t good enough. Not thin enough. Not strong enough. Not tidy enough. No wonder we can’t keep up with our ‘new’ selves; nobody wants to spend time with trash-talkers! New year’s resolutions are either glorified bucket lists or part of a self-hate campaign. Apparently we just love to call ourselves lazy fat asses through the format of aspirational goals. While we all aim to tick off boxes, we don’t have to be so mean about it!
Although I’m always looking for ways to improve myself, I think we sometimes get too carried away with identifying and eliminating bad habits. A good life is a balanced one. So where’s the balance in doing one good thing after another? No, this isn’t an encouragement to rob a bank after you’ve helped an old lady cross the street. I want to point out that many habits classified as ‘bad’ are habits defined as ‘non-productive’. And while procrastination can be a b*tch, daydreaming shouldn’t be cancelled just because it doesn’t create a direct product. Sure, I’ve got too many tabs open and it wouldn’t hurt to close some, but the value of fussing around gets overlooked too easily. Busy is the new stupid, apparently, and while this is still focussed on optimisation, it’s optimisation based on mindful (in)action.
How I’m self-caring into 2020
To summarise: no matter our intentions, we don’t simply change our ways just because we really want to. It takes time to get everything sorted out and that’s okay. Allow yourself to mess up, to get it wrong and to totally throw away any ambitious plans for the 1st of January. Because are we really doing ourselves any favours constantly shouting out commands? Instead of getting caught up in renouncing bad habits, we should grow as we go (and realise that not every bad habit is as bad as its reputation implies). So let’s explore the new year, all the you’s it brings and the lessons we can learn from them.
How are you self-caring into 2020? Are you ‘bad habit’ obsessed or just looking for a good time? Share your wisdom in the comments!