By: Cassandra Stout
There’s something about a fresh start that creates the desire to tweak your life.
And a new year is a fresh start.
Why not resolve to practice more self-care each month in the coming year?
Here’s my 12-month calendar of self-care tips to try. Most of them are habits you can build with a 30-day challenge.
You don’t have to try all of these. But making a New Year’s resolution to practice more self-care is more easily done with a plan.
Your 30-day challenge for January is to soak up as much sunlight as possible to stave off the humdrum blues of the winter months, and either prevent or possibly treat SAD.
Try to sit or walk in the sun for 30 minutes per day. Even 15 is good.
If you’re in the southern hemisphere of the world and January means summer for you, then soak up the sun – but safely. Your 30-day challenge is to apply sunblock each day.
Your 30-day challenge for February is to build your relationships, platonic or romantic.
Call or text a different friend once a week. Check-in with them and maybe set up a coffee date.
If you have a romantic partner, do something nice for them once a week as well, and try to go on one date during the month.
And try to recognize that even though Valentine’s Day is touted as the big holiday for couples, you don’t have to be attached or even experience romantic attraction to love and be loved.
March is still winter for us northern folks, meaning the sun is still hiding behind the clouds.
Many of us, especially those of us who live up north, don’t get enough sun to make vitamin D, which helps regulate our bodies, brains, and moods.
Regardless if you live in the north or the south, your challenge. should you accept it, is to visit your doctor and get your vitamin D levels tested to see if you need supplements.
If you need supplements, build a habit by taking them daily.
Your challenge for April is to get your iron levels tested.
Just like vitamin D, iron is crucial for the body to function. If you’re anemic, you’ll be tired and your brain will be foggy.
Get your iron levels tested, and if you need supplementation, get some and build your habit by taking them for 30 days straight.
April showers bring May flowers, so your challenge for this month is to actively take steps to spend as much time in nature as you can.
Research has proven the benefits of “forest bathing,” or walking around amongst the trees.
Spend some time every day soaking up nature, and if you can, touch some grass.
June’s challenge is the flipside of January.
If it’s summer for you, enjoy the sun safely while applying sunblock.
If it’s winter, soak up as much sun as you can.
July’s challenge is to purge your news feed.
Negative news is proven to bring people down, and focusing on the awful things happening around the world will only make you miserable and possibly paranoid.
Take a break from news sites and reading the newspaper and only take in positive things this month, and see how you feel at the end.
If you genuinely miss the news, then by all means go back to the way you had it before, but keep in mind that you always have the power to curate your experience.
Children around the world return to school in August and you can too.
Intellectual self-care is self-care.Try to learn something new once a day. It can be a small thing, like a list of 10 cat facts you didn’t know before or you can sign up for a free college class on sites like edx.com.
September sees the beginning of crisp fall weather for the northerners and the beginning of spring for southerners.
Walking boosts your mood, sharpens your focus, and promotes good health, especially if you do so daily.
Your challenge this month is to take a daily 15-minute walk, preferably one where you get your heart rate up. Get outside if you can, but commit to more exercise this month.
In the spooky month of October, Halloween is a time of sweets for Americans.
But sugar is proven to tank your mental health as well as add to your waistline.
Your challenge for this month (cruel as it may be) is to limit your sugar intake.
Try to make healthy choices with your eating this month, and if you find it helps after 30 days, by all means, continue!
For Americans, November is a time to be grateful.
Research shows that practicing gratitude soothes the soul and buoys your mood.
Your challenge for November is to keep a gratitude journal. Write down 3 things each day that you are grateful for in your life.
The holiday season can be difficult for many people.
Feelings are high, everyone’s spending money, and the pressure is on to reconnect with family, however fraught that may be.
So December’s challenge is to be kinder to yourself.
Figure out a positive affirmation or motto that you can say to yourself daily – once in the morning, once in the evening, and whenever you face trouble.
Some examples of positive affirmations are:
“Open your heart and drink in this glorious day.” -Heather Havrilesky
“The chance to love and be loved exists no matter where you are.” -Oprah
And my favorite, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. -Phil. 4:13
And there you have it: 12 months of self-care that you can start today.
Self-care isn’t too difficult to do. All it takes is a deliberate focus on treating yourself right.
I wish you well in your journey.