What to do instead of New Year Resolutions
Here are ten ideas for practicing self-care and expression this winter. 1. Meditative breathing. Using sets of four (4 counts breathing in, 4 counts holding your breath, and 4 counts exhaling, in a set of 4) can reset your nervous system and help release pent-up energy. If meditation seems too “frou-frou” or hard to pin down, try a mindfulness exercise instead. That can mean keeping a gratitude list (like naming three things every day that you’re grateful for) or five minutes just taking in the sounds around you if it’s safe enough to do so.
2. Do something special for someone in your life. Whether it’s smiling at the young lady who always saves you a sandwich or saving a treat for the animal companion in your life, take some time to connect and reconnect with the people who help you smile. If you’re a plant parent, and your friend is ready and grown, go ahead and re-pot them to give them more room to flourish.
3. Listen to music. Scientific studies have shown that classical and jazz music activate all the areas of our brain at once with various stimulation. Practice supportive downtime by giving some instrumental music a chance. 4. Nap. If sleeping through the night is a stretch, then practice napping when and where it’s safe to do so. 5. Speaking of stretching, go ahead and stretch. Take 5 to 10 minutes out of your routine to move your body in strategic ways. Try stomach stretches, which involve raising your hands up as far as you can (but not too hard) and holding that pose for 30 seconds. When stretching your back after sitting for a long time, you can place your hands on your hips and lean back while standing. Try to keep your head upright, as letting it fall back can put more pressure on your back than needed. Then do a hula-hoop motion 3 times and stretch backward again.
6. Write a letter. Is there anyone you miss who’d love to hear from you? Whether it’s a postcard or a short note, go ahead and write one out. If mailing it is an issue, try to arrange for it to be hand-delivered. The USPS can also provide general delivery or approve a P.O. box for the housing-insecure under certain conditions. More info here: https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Is-there-mail-service-for-the-homeless
7. Attend a faith-based service or community event. Connecting with others is a practice and if you are a person of a particular religion, staying connected with community and resources can be easier through a church or synagogue or mosque or temple. Again, as long as it’s emotionally safe for you to do so, reach out to a local faith organization when you’re ready.
8. Write a story. It can be your own story, or made-up. Experiment with the place, the time, and the ending. If it’s your own story, how can you begin to see your life in a different way? Have you accomplished what you set out to do? If not, there’s still time.
9. Create. You can draw a silly picture, or scribble, or doodle--whatever you want. Your imagination is the only limitation. You may have heard of adult coloring books. If you don’t have access to one, create your own. If possible, consider investing in a waterproof or fireproof bag to protect your belongings.
10. Update your diet. Access to food can be hit or miss, but some options are healthier than others. Sometimes just eating three times a day can be a challenge, but when we have access to food lines or pantries, we can choose veggies or grains instead of highly sugary or extra-salty foods. Try to limit the candy and chips, if possible, to just a few times a week.