- Pamela Newman, LCSW-C
Bringing Back Old Habits
Spring is here! With more sunlight and longer days, many of us feel more motivated and begin to prepare for warmer weather. When seasons change, we naturally tend to make changes and set new intentions for ourselves. In considering what changes you want to make this Spring, consider bringing back old habits.
Think back to any time in your life that you’ve been overwhelmed, stressed or under a deadline. As much as we try to get it all done, “something’s gotta give” as they say. There are only so many hours in a day and in our society of being busy and overscheduling, we often give up things that were once important and essential for us.
When time is limited, the first things to be eliminated are typically things like hobbies, exercise, and social time. Finally, we start to compromise sleep and hygiene, and other basic needs.
There is pressure on people to implement “self-care” but pressuring yourself to create the perfect self-care routine often backfires. Most of us know that we should be taking better care of ourselves, but that’s easier said than done. Rather than shaming and blaming yourself that you’re not doing the things you “should” be doing, let’s take a step back…
Start by thinking about:
What things have I sacrificed that are important for my hygiene? Have you been cutting out sleep? Stopped flossing? Are you caring less about your physical appearance?
What have I sacrificed that’s negatively impacting my health? Are you getting more carry-out instead of cooking? Did you stop exercising? Are you more stagnant than before? Are you spending hours on your phone?
What have I sacrificed that’s negatively impacting my relationships? Are you spending less time with friends, family, or your partner? Are you isolating or avoiding people?
Think back to when you felt better… what was different then?
What things do you wish you did more of? What things do you miss doing? What activities were boosting your mood or were fun for you? What were you doing more often that gave you moments of calm or peace? What habits did you implement in the past that were helpful or restorative?
Now Pick ONE:
Pick one small thing that you could do each day for you. It could be as simple as going to bed 15 minutes earlier, singing along to the radio, reading a good book, standing outside in the sunshine, doing a face mask, or texting a friend. Just choose something and attempt to implement it back into your daily routine.
Now, here’s the trick, if you miss a day and don’t do something for you, be aware how your brain responds to this. Are you making yourself feel bad, punishing yourself, or unintentionally adding to your own stress? Make note of this. In this case, one thing you could do for yourself is practice self-compassion. Go easy on yourself. Just try again tomorrow.
Once you spend a few days doing small things for yourself, notice how you feel. Which of the things were most helpful? Then work on doing those things more often. This creates a self-care plan. “When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”— Jean Shinoda Bolen.