The prospect of the new year is rather exciting; it is an opportunity to start fresh and try something new. While everyone deserves a new beginning, especially after the holidays, the thought of New Year’s resolutions brings about pressures and expectations that we have to reinvent ourselves. New year, new you…right? The media has sung the same old song for years, associating the “new you” with a fitness and health guru.
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, “becoming healthy” or some rendition of a “healthy” lifestyle is often the go-to for most people. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to focus on your health, but the meaning of “health” has become so focused on the unattainable ideal physique that we have lost sight of other components of health.
According to a Marist Poll, just as much as people said they wanted their physical health to be their New Year’s resolution, “being a better person” tied for first place. While this is a fairly general resolution (what does it really mean to be a “better person?”), it forces us to focus on ourselves and the impact we make on other people.
Needless to say, there is an abundance of resolutions you can make that don’t fall into the default physique oriented categories. Remember, you don’t have to make a new year’s resolution if you don’t want to, but if you do, go for it! To really keep your resolutions, it is suggested that you keep them manageable (limiting yourself to just one or two), reasonable (so maybe flying to the moon won’t be feasible, but definitely keep that on your list of dreams), and start with yourself.
If you are in need of some positive and feasible resolutions, here are some suggestions:
1. Begin listening to your body. Much easier said than done, but it makes such a difference. Meditating is a great way to start, and you can start small by meditating as much or as little as you see fit. There are a ton of apps you can use if you are someone (like myself) who has a hard time quieting their thoughts and need a bit of guidance.
2. Make time for self-care. As you begin to listen to your body, you’ll recognize when you need to take a step back and take care of yourself. Mindfulness will cue you into when you’re hungry, tired, thirsty, or in need of watching your favorite show on Netflix. Life is busy, but if you are able to make time for yourself throughout the week or dedicate one afternoon to yourself, you’ll be glad you did.
3. Celebrate what your body can do with a movement practice you enjoy. Our bodies are extraordinary vessels that carry us through life. Find a movement practice that you enjoy (dance, yoga, football, tai chi, boxing, weight-lifting, etc.) and that helps you celebrate the capability of your body, the body that allows you to move, jump, kick, flip, lift, turn, and run.
4. Try something new. Whether it is a new recipe for a friend’s birthday, a new book each month, or going through the top films of all time, trying something new opens you up to new ideas, inspiration, and creativity. You can even try something new with a loved one and share the experience.
5. Keep a gratitude list. Keeping a diary or journaling are other common resolutions, but many people find that it is hard to write extensively on a regular basis. I have found a gratitude list to be a fine alternative as it invites me to focus on the positive memories of my day, but it is short and sweet.
6. Clean up your social media. You don’t have to follow accounts on Instagram or Twitter that send negative messages or don’t make you feel good about the incredible person you are. Take some time to go through who you follow and see if the content that is being posted is toxic to you. If it is, simply unfollow. You are in control what you see on these platforms, so make your feed one that you enjoy looking at and makes you feel good.
7. Compliment yourself (and one other person) each day. Similar to the gratitude list, this is short and sweet. Discover something new about yourself (a physical trait or characteristic) and find pride and appreciation in that. Then, pay someone else a compliment, and remind them why they are so incredible. It could be a family member, friend, partner, pet, or even the barista that greets you each morning. We all deserve to be reminded of why we are beautiful, both inside and out.
If you choose to take on a resolution, pick one that works for you, not one that you think you have to take on because it seems like everyone else is. Resolutions are not one size fits all, and they don’t have to be as transformative as they have been made out to be. Allow your resolution to focus on a small change to your daily life that makes you feel good. Sure, it’s a new year, but don’t fret about making a new you.
You are fantastic just the way you are. Here’s to making this year the year that you want it to be!
Grace Bradley is a senior at Connecticut College majoring in dance and sociology. Working with the Active Minds chapter at Conn College and NEDA, she is an advocate of mental health and eating disorder awareness after personally dealing with both. Grace is dedicated to raising awareness about both of these issues, specifically within the dance community.