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Embracing Gentle Commitments: A New Approach to the New Year

As this calendar year comes to an end, many of us find ourselves reflecting on the past and contemplating resolutions for the future. However, we can sometimes create resolutions with such rigidity that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy for over-control or repeated "failure." This old method can be highly dysfunctional and in some cases, downright toxic.

This new year, instead of setting lofty goals that may feel overwhelming, consider adopting a more nurturing approach by making gentle commitments to enhance your well-being and love yourself more. Here are some ideas to weave into the fabric of your daily life, promoting a sense of balance and joy.

1. Listen to Your Body and Intuition

Amidst the chaos of everyday life, it's easy to overlook the subtle cues our bodies and intuition provide. This year, commit to tuning in and listening. Pay attention to how your body responds to different situations and honor your gut feelings. It's easy to get out of the habit of hearing that "mmhm," and "uh-uh." Being curious about what all is happening within you can help you learn yourself on a deeper level and lead to more ease in walking your particular path in life.

2. Make Time for Yourself

I know we hear "self-care" ad nauseam. Even though my commitment is strong, I get tired of hearing about it, too! In the hustle and bustle of life, it is hard to remember that our energy is finite. We get to decide how to spend our very best energy and I find that by giving it to myself, it creates more that I can spread and share with others. Try to dedicate regular moments to yourself, whether it's reading a book, taking a leisurely walk, or enjoying a quiet cup of tea. Small loving acts like this can profoundly impact on our well-being.

3. Do Things That Bring You Joy

Identify activities that bring you genuine happiness and incorporate them into your routine. Whether it's a hobby, spending time with loved ones, or exploring nature, prioritize joy. By infusing your days with moments of delight, you'll cultivate a positive and resilient mindset. I recently made a vision board and though it's not something I do often, I truly had a great time! Now I have something tangible to gaze at and remembering the fun I had has a tendency to bring more joy.

4. Prioritize Reciprocal Relationships

Have you noticed how your friendships have changed over the past several years? Often, as our boundaries get more defined and we're able to better articulate them, we find that some friends can't hang. That's okay! Identify and nurture those connections that uplift and support you. Focus on relationships that are mutually beneficial, where both parties contribute to each other's well-being. Quality, reciprocal friendships provide a foundation of strength and joy.

5. Redirect Negative Self-Talk

Ooh, this is a tough one. I once gave up negative self-talk for Lent! (And it actually went pretty well though it had a bit of a rocky start.) Begin to notice those times when you're being hard on yourself, one sentence at a time. Then see if you can challenge and reframe those negative thoughts that may arise. Practice self-compassion and speak to yourself as you would to a friend or a small child. (...or your inner child or your animal companions!) By redirecting negative self-talk, you'll foster a more positive and nurturing inner dialogue. A little tweak here goes a long way. After a few months, you may see you're being sweeter to yourself and not even having to effort for it!

6. Support a Cause You Believe In

Get involved with a cause that aligns with your values. You don't have to re-invent the wheel. There are plenty of amazing organizers who have already laid out the framework for you! Follow the lead of those leaders and contribute in ways that resonate with you. If you have money to give, give it! If you have muscle to lend, lend it! Just show up, however you can. Making a positive impact in your community or the world can be deeply fulfilling and it's a gift that benefits all involved.

7. Clock Out Earlier for a Good Night's Sleep

In a world dominated by constant connectivity, make a commitment to clock out earlier. Disconnect from work and technology a few hours before bedtime to prioritize rest. Take a day or two here and there to completely unplug and enjoy less noise, both on the ears and the eyes. Sleep hygiene can be an effort for many of us but it's a labor worth undertaking. You'll begin to see how much easier it is to be intentional and energized after a routine of good, restful sleep. (PRO TIP: When I fall out of this habit, I often use a GABA supplement an hour before sleep and then turn on my happy light first thing in the morning which trains my circadian rhythm back into balance. I also leave my phone alone for the first couple hours that I'm awake.)

8. Make the Gentle Commitment to say, "I love you," to You

If you're fixing your hair in the mirror, driving to work, walking your canine companion or anytime you think of it, say this phrase to yourself. Whenever you think of it, say it. When you're alone, say it aloud (and proud)! I have been writing this at the end of my daily journals every day for probably 8 years now and saying it to myself when it comes to mind. Sometimes, when I trip and almost fall, I laugh at myself and say, "I love you, Marshall." It has made a real difference in giving myself approval and reparenting. Try it out. You're worthy of your love. We all are!

We know more and more that it's often the small, consistent actions that lead to meaningful change. Embrace these gentle commitments, weaving them into the fabric of your daily routine. This also means on the days you fall short, don't sweat it! As you navigate the year ahead, may these practices serve as a compass, guiding you towards a more balanced, joyful, and fulfilling daily life. En-joy!

An orangey sunset over an ocean

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas/Pixabay


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