Self-Care :: Five Focus Areas for the New Year

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The other morning, I watched Dr. Jen Ashton on Good Morning America as she discussed her new book, The Self-Care Solution. I find that Dr. Ashton speaks to me. We are both women of a certain age, and she always presents information in a straightforward, un-nuanced way that I appreciate.

Dr. Ashton said something that really struck me that day. She said that a few years ago, we — meaning women in general — focused on self-help books. However, she found self-help books made her feel inadequate, as if something needed to be fixed. Self-care, she said, was about taking care of yourself with a focus that allows you to function at your best.

I had to agree with Dr. Ashton. If I shifted toward self-care rather than self-improvement, what might my goals for 2020 look like?

Five Focus Areas for the New Year

After some reflection, I have five focus areas for this year and invite you to join me in making self-care a priority.

Annual Doctor Visits

Schedule those annual visits to occur near each other every year, ideally in the same month. If you haven’t already scheduled your routine dental visit as well as your regular OB/GYN visit for pap smears and mammograms, then do it. Then, depending on your situation and age, add in your eye exam and dermatological check.

Over the years, those preventive visits have caught and treated issues early on that could have developed further into much more problematic challenges for me. Full disclosure, I have never really had a primary care physician or committed to annual general check-ups because I’ve generally been healthy. Now that I’m in my fifties, I’m told it’s time to commit to a physician, so I’ve made that one of my resolutions for 2020. If you have recommendations, let me know.

Managing Your Finances

Whether you’re married, single, or divorced, you need to understand your financial position. Yes, my husband is our money manager, but we have a standing budget chat on our calendar every week. We make sure we are spending our money where we want as well as sticking to our financial goals. I encourage you to understand your financial position, set some goals, and use a budget to help you get there. In 2020, my husband and I are committed to maintaining our weekly budget reviews and continuing our commitment to not take on new debt.

Volunteering

We all have something to give, and I firmly believe that giving of yourself and your time benefits you as much as the recipient. Depending on your phase of life, your volunteer experiences will look different. When my children were small, I volunteered at the school or the soccer field in conjunction with their participation. As they have grown and flown, I have focused on volunteer programs that match my skill set and interests, like reading in an elementary school classroom or teaching a Sunday school class.

If you need help finding a volunteer opportunity that speaks to you, check out websites like Volunteer Match for ideas.

Cultivating Relationships Outside of Your Family

Getting out of your world and into someone else’s is enlightening and enriching. I’m lucky to work in an environment that keeps me constantly meeting new people and establishing ongoing relationships. But I’ve gotten a little lazy and have let meaningful personal friendships fall by the wayside in my busyness.

Looking ahead to 2020, I have made a commitment to put a priority on deepening those friendships by stepping up and being the friend who makes the invitation to connect.

Learning (or Re-Learning) Something

As researchers attempt to understand more about dementia and age-related memory loss, they have recommended that we keep learning. It’s not just that we read or solve puzzles, but that we engage our brains in learning something new, like a language or skill. Evidently, learning exercises different muscles than absorbing information or solving problems. My 2020 goals include learning to make macarons and hand-made filled pastas as well as to re-learn the embroidery stitches I used to know when I was a teen.

Your New 2020 Mantra

One of my favorite movie quotes is, “You is smart, you is kind, you is important” from The Help. I think this could be a mantra to help us focus on self-care for the new year. Let’s take on 2020 with a commitment to ourselves so that we can give our best to those who count on us.

How about you? What are some of your goals for 2020? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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Born in Wisconsin, Chris moved South with her family, first to Richmond, Virginia, and then to Birmingham when she was 12. She loves being a girl raised in the South, and her only remaining Midwestern traits are a love for the Packers and a fondness for bratwurst. In 2010, Chris reconnected with Christopher, a former Birmingham-Southern College classmate, after a random meeting in the cereal aisle at Publix. They married in 2011, not realizing that they were bringing together a perfect storm of teenage angst with their three children. Today, Chris is the center support that keeps the seesaw of her family balanced, leading a blended family of three young adults and enjoying an empty nest. Before the pandemic, most days were busy managing client relationships for a corporate event production company, but after six months of unemployment, she has become the parish administrator aka “the church lady” for her church. When she's not working, she loves reading a rich historical novel, volunteering with her sorority, and planning their next wine-tasting excursions.

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