A Slower Start To 2019
I was having a conversation with a friend recently about New Year’s resolutions. She told me that, shortly after the holidays, she got sick and ended up watching movies in bed for the first two weeks of the year. I laughed, telling her I also got sick and, rather than spending the beginning of January with my planner or at the gym, I caught up on Netflix while eating leftover holiday foods.
She asked how that made me feel, not being able to join in on the western world’s annual hustle that comes around every calendar year.
“It was honestly refreshing,” I told her. “I was scared I might feel behind, or like I was missing out on the race to become the best version of myself. Instead, I felt relieved, and like my body was saying ‘thank you’ for listening to its needs.”
She agreed and explained that her experience was similar. We talked about what it looked like to ease into the year, to give our bodies permission to linger, to rest a few days longer, and to throw out all the strict regimens adopted for so many Januarys past.
When the new year rolls around, it’s more than easy to get sucked into the ‘hustle and grind’ mindset esteemed in our western culture. Do more, be more, make more, the ads tell us. Become the best version of you. We recite a tired script, uncertain as to why we keep striving for perfection, for something so clearly unobtainable. It’s a script that needs re-writing.
What would it look like to ease into the year, to give ourselves permission to move slowly and be thoughtful about our resolutions? What would it mean, for our society and for our own personal wellbeing, to throw out all expectations along with the lofty resolutions (we’re talking detoxes, weight-loss plans, goals to grow our social audience and bank accounts) we’ve adopted so many times before?
We’re not against setting goals and boundaries, or practicing healthy habits and routines. We are against making resolutions that focus on what we’re lacking and persuade us to remake ourselves. Resolutions should inspire us, they should encourage us to embrace self-care habits that foster growth and love for others; we shouldn’t feel the need to become different people. That’s why the only resolutions we are making this year are ones that invite us to do a better job at caring—for ourselves as we already are, for the planet and our environment, and for the people in our community.
1. Practice a Morning & Evening Routine
As a creative, committing to practicing a morning or evening routine can, at times, feel constraining. I’ve found myself straying from routine on more than one occasion solely out of fear that the repetition will become obstructive and boring.
Here’s the truth though: morning and evening routines are there to help us, not hinder us. Research shows, even for creatives, embracing routine is essential to self-care, as well as for productivity and making time for the things that matter. Routines have also been shown to reduce stress and alleviate symptoms of anxiety. One of our favorite mindfulness and meditation apps, Headspace, writes about it best in this blog post, “The Secret Benefit of Routines. It Won’t Surprise You.” Give it a read and then take a look at our favorite morning routine practices (spoiler: they don’t include giving up coffee or doing the insanity workout before dawn).
2. Minimize Our Possessions
Anyone else been binging Marie Kondo’s new show on Netflix? While I’m not sure I can get behind the “own fewer than 30 books” rule, I am inspired by her decluttering tips, as well as the way she teaches us to honor our homes and our possessions.
Choosing to live with less and to be more intentional about the items we own is not only better for the earth, but it also benefits our welling, making it an excellent way to practice self-care this year. Remember that, minimalist living may start with decluttering and donating items, but this lifestyle is an ongoing choice to only buy what we need and to shop second-hand when possible.
3. Invest in Our Communities & Relationships
In 2018, community was a significant theme. I wrote about meaningful workplace relationships and cultivating community at a clothing swap; Audrey explored what it means to seek community in a continually fractured world; Alice even talked apps for finding friends in a new city.
Wherever you’re at and whatever relational needs you may have at the beginning of this year, keep seeking out connection and friendships. Life is an astounding and beautiful journey, but it can often be lonely. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with this. Living in London as an introvert, it can be more convenient to check-out and pretend I’m not isolating myself for fear of rejection. But as Maya Angelou so brilliantly put it, “We need each other as we need the earth we share.” Let’s keep investing in one another this year. And let’s also make sure we’re creating environments where everyone feels they have a seat at the table.
4. Choose to Speak Up For Ourselves—And Others
In 2019, we’re embracing this truth: our voices are valid.
If you didn’t get a chance to read Celeste’s powerful piece on learning to speak up for herself, add it to your reading list. And then meditate on what it means to use your own voice. To stand behind your words and grant yourself permission to take up space, to belong. Your voice is valid. Not the words you say or how you say them, but your voice. You, as a person, are worthy of existing, of speaking, of feeling, of experiencing. You belong, period.
And so does everyone else. In addition to using our voices to speak up for ourselves and validate our own experiences, let’s resolve to using them to speak up for others. Sometimes this means using words (like calling people out for discrimination and intolerance), other times this looks like passing the microphone to a person, or group of people, who have for too long been marginalized. Our voices can speak, but so can our bodies—by listening, by showing up, by supporting organizations. To learn more about becoming a better ally, check out this article by Upworthy.
5. Read More & Keep Learning
I love reading because it encourages me to see the world through someone else’s lens. And I like podcasts because I can continue learning about new subjects and fascinating people, even while on the go or during a long commute. For me, reading and learning are forms of self-care. Not only do books make me more confident in who I am, but they remind me that I’m not alone, that others have come and gone before me, and that my experiences are not as unique as they seem. I find comfort in that. And I enjoy being challenged in my perspectives and world views.
It’s why in 2019 all of us at The Good Trade team are encouraging more reading, more listening, and more learning in the new year. Here are a few book lists and podcast recommendations to help get you started.
Kayti Christian, a staff writer for The Good Trade, is a storyteller, creator, activist, and avid traveler hailing from Colorado, now living in London. With 30+ stamps in her passport, she is passionate about responsible tourism and is always looking for new ways to be a more conscious traveler. She is currently pursuing her MA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at City, University of London.