As the new year approaches, making resolutions becomes a common topic of conversation. Suggestions for resolutions are everywhere, from a casual conversation with a friend to a nightly news segment, and it can be difficult not to compare the large-scale goals many set for themselves with our own. Making drastic, life-changing resolutions can cause us to feel overwhelmed at the start of the new year. So, what if we instead focused on how we could make small changes that focus on taking better care of ourselves? Setting mini goals around self-care practices are likely to be more successful in the long run than making large and sometimes unenjoyable resolutions that may increase feelings of stress and pressure to achieve them. In fact, it has been studied that it’s easier—and more satisfying—to achieve small goals than the usual big ones that we are accustomed to making. What are some mini goals for the new year that would help support self-care practices? Below are a few examples to try:
1. Focus on Sleep Quality
Giving yourself permission to receive high-quality sleep is part of self-care and can be an attainable mini goal for the new year. For example, if your intention is to get more sleep, plan to be in bed 15 minutes earlier than usual each night. Once you get into a natural rhythm of getting into bed earlier, think about other aspects that can help improve your sleep quality, one of which is sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene involves things like limiting screen time before bed, decreasing light in your bedroom, and making sure it’s a quiet and peaceful environment for rest.
2. Take a Time Out from Social Media
Scrolling through social media pages can distract us from being present in our lives, while also influencing us to make comparisons between ourselves and those we see on social media. Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” is quite accurate when it comes to describing just how this constant comparing can take away from the enjoyment of our own lives. You can start by scheduling certain times of the day to check your social media feeds. This way the break doesn’t feel like it’s being taken away—it’s just limited. This form of self-care gives you a break from comparing yourself to others and instead be fully present in daily life.
3. Schedule Days of Rest
Getting rest is crucial in a similar way to sleep, where it allows the body and mind to recover from activities of daily life. However, rest is often lumped in with sleep, and we often don’t allow ourselves to relax and rest on a regular basis away from busy activities and schedules. As a goal for the new year, you could make a point to schedule one day each month where you make no plans and have no obligations; you’ll have a full day to do what you feel you’d enjoy doing in the moment without outside pressures or expectations. If a day sounds like too much, you could even start by incorporating hours of intentional rest throughout your weeks rather than a full day.
4. Practice Mindfulness through Activity
Mindfulness can be practiced through activities such as yoga and meditation to help improve your being present in that moment. These practices can be used as a way of grounding when stress or anxiety becomes more prominent. If you find it difficult to carve out time for yoga or the like, mindfulness can be incorporated in other ways. For instance, incorporate mindfulness during mealtime to increase connection to your body and its signals. This can increase satiety and satisfaction with your food. Finding ways to practice mindfulness on a regular basis, even during a stroll around the neighborhood, can be a valuable self-care goal and will make it easier to implement when the need arises.
5. Spend Time Outdoors
Fresh air and sunshine can work wonders on improving mood and feelings of peace and contentment. Going outside can be a nice way to break up the monotony of a workday or a day spent indoors. Setting a self-care goal related to spending time outside could be planning to eat lunch outside one day per week, taking short walks, or planning a monthly outdoor excursion to go for a hike, swim or something else outside.
6. Declutter and Organize Spaces at Home
Clutter can increase feelings of being overwhelmed or stressed, which is not ideal in your living space where you’re supposed to feel most comfortable. Setting a mini self-care goal to declutter could look like choosing a drawer or cabinet in your room or house to organize each week or setting a monthly goal to go through items such as clothes, books, dishes or cookware for donation.
7. Create a Gratitude List or Journal
Practicing gratitude as an active part of your day can increase feelings of positivity and satisfaction with your daily life. It helps redirect focus away from negative thoughts and helps to zero in on what makes you happy and thankful. This can take the form of a daily or weekly gratitude list, where you write anywhere from one to 100 things you’re grateful for, or may even be a spoken act that you choose to begin or end your day with.
The above list includes just a few things that can be used to create mini self-care goals for the new year. Make sure your goals focus on ways you can realistically support yourself and your happiness, without adding external pressures and expectations to reach a certain level of achievement. Your self-care goal should be realistic, enjoyable and valuable to your daily life!
Madeline Radigan Langham is a registered dietitian who works with adolescents in mental health residential treatment. She is passionate about advocating for weight inclusivity and a non-diet approach to help people heal their relationships with food and their bodies. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors and spending time on trails with her family. You can find more of Madeline’s thoughts and work at radnutrition.net or on Instagram at @mradnutrition.