Did you know that it’s exactly 4 weeks til January 1st?
If that statement put you into a panic, you’re not alone. The January issues of your favorite magazines are starting to arrive in your mailbox. Their covers highlight articles on New Year’s cleanses, eating clean, detoxes and more.
Well, there’s a lot of living between now 2017. Parties, travel, holiday shopping, lots of cooking…. You get the idea. It can all feel so overwhelming that we don’t feel like we can spare a minute for ourselves. We push ourselves to the limit doing things for other people. We skip meals, eat in our cars, and skip exercise that makes us feel better inside and out. Why can’t we do what the airline safety presentations tell us and put on our own oxygen masks first before tending to others? We all know that we are better at everything when we give ourselves what we need, but it’s often just so hard to put into practice.
But what if you didn’t use the next few weeks as a time to put your needs second to those of others? What if you gave ourselves a holiday present of self-care and self-love?
If you typically wake up on January 1st with a long list of resolutions, including foods you won’t ever eat again, then this challenge is for you.
You might be wondering why I’m devoting this post to something that isn’t clearly nutrition-related. But, here’s the thing: it’s all related. Part of what I work with my Intuitive Eating clients on is what we call self-care. Research shows that if we practice self-care, we tend to be more in touch with what we are eating. And it makes perfect sense: if we don’t take the time to get in touch with our emotional, social and physical needs, how will we be aware enough to focus on our hunger and satiety cues, and to determine what nourishment our bodies need on any particular day? When all these factors are taken together, that’s when real, lasting change happens.
Here’s the challenge: I want you to put yourself first, at least for a portion of every day. Each day for the next 4 weeks, commit to take at least 15 minutes out of your day to do something just for you. (Bonus points if you keep a record of it.) What that is specifically will vary according to your individual needs and the time you have on any given day, but some examples are:
- a meditation (I personally love the Calm App);
- reading a book;
- going to the movies;
- excusing yourself from a family gathering to go take a walk in nature;
- a yoga or exercise class;
- calling a friend you haven’t talked to in a while;
- taking time to eat lunch mindfully during your work day;
- working on a hobby;
- having tea and a snack mid-afternoon.
We all have the best of intentions, but If you are one of those people who tends to put others’ needs in front of your own, this challenge is particularly important for you. There are going to be so many reasons for this challenge not to happen: there are large family meals to cook, relatives to visit, presents to buy and wrap, cards to address and mail, children home from school for 2 weeks…. The list of reasons can seem endless.
Research shows that it takes 21 days of a behavior to make it a habit. So, if you start this challenge today, self-care will become a habit by the new year. And you might just find yourself starting 2017 with a sense of accomplishment rather than a sense of regret.
Kelly Abramson MS, RD is a dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor who works with clients in Alexandria, VA and virtually via telehealth. She guides women as they break free from dieting to find joy in food and their bodies. Kelly blogs regularly at NpowerYou.com and has created a free e-book for download, “7 Steps to Overcome Stress Eating.”