Start the New Year with a little self-care

After the hubbub of Christmas has faded to a fond memory, most of us begin to think about how we want to live the next 12 months. Should we lose a few (or more) pounds? Should we focus more on our kids? Should we get more education or a new job? Budget better or earn more? The list of possibilities is endless. But often it seems much easier to start than to continue with these good intentions. The same is true of self-care.

Consistent self-caretaking can be a mixed experience. We are born with natural motives to survive and thrive.

However, over the years, many of us have negative and disruptive life experiences that can cause us to become discouraged or to actively disrupt our own carefully laid plans — and then be annoyed with ourselves for giving up.

A great book for the general reader on this topic — Addicted to Unhappiness by Drs. William and Martha Heineman Pieper — offers a user-friendly understanding of this very common problem in life, while providing useful and enjoyable ways to better match your ideals for the New Year.

If you can’t find the time to add an en- tire book to your busy schedule, here are some recommendations you can tackle right now:

  • First, keep in mind that if you stick to your goals, you will feel better and enjoy life more. People actually do better if they are working for their own enjoyment — not just because they “should.” Why not take pleasure in knowing that you really do care about yourself and want to improve?
  • Confide in a trusted friend or relative who shares your specific goals, is a reliable partner in the process and supports you no matter what. Very few people are inspired to change because of criticism — from outside or from within.
  • Pick specific tasks and goals that are realistically possible for you in your current physical and social condition and don’t overdo it (which could cause an injury that might slow your good progress).
  • If you backslide and miss your goal one day, try not to yell at your- self. Rather, just say, “I can try again tomorrow.” (Coach yourself as you would your best friend!)
  • Keep a diary of your progress and look at it every week or two to get a real picture of how you’re doing, instead of basing your progress on one day. You can enjoy the overall progress this way.
  • Don’t give up or back away from your goals. Your goals are good and come from the very best human and innate part of your mind.

Here’s to a very Happy New Year to you and your family, however you define that. I wish you the very best in the next 12 months. And, with that in mind, please feel free to let me know if you would like me to address a specific concern in future articles — let’s make 2017 a good year, together!

Walter D. Miller, LCSW, is a clinical social worker in New Eastside who specializes in children, adolescents and adults. He may be contacted at (312) 856-0230.

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