Health & Wellness

Make Self-Care Your Goal

By Chris Hudspeth
Reflect on what works: The holidays recently ended, and we are stepping into a new year and a new decade. Take some time to stop and reflect, if you haven’t already, and appreciate both your successes and failures during the previous decade. (You can even indulge and go back to the beginning of the century.) It’s healthy to take time to look into the past – just don’t live there. What is important to remember is what does and doesn’t work. Maybe it is time to upgrade how we see ourselves or how we relate to others, even re-evaluate our relationship with exercise, diet, finances, and being more mindful or gentle with ourselves.

Call an audible: Deciding to be gentle with ourselves before we start a new task, regimen, or plan of attack is one key to success. However, we can’t use “being gentle with myself” as an excuse to stop all together. Rather than giving up when something isn’t working, think of it as “calling an audible.”

In football, “audibles” are adjustments to a plan made on the fly. A quarterback will call an audible when they determine the original game plan isn’t working. So they use a flexible approach to keep on track. With all your goals, “call an audible” when necessary, but at the same time, keep moving forward.

For example, if you have a plan to start exercising everyday, but you are unable to do so for whatever reason, consider taking the same time you would normally exercise and meditate instead. Replacing one self-care activity for another is a good way to keep the momentum moving forward, even if it is not what was planned initially.

Always do your best, but also be okay with “good enough.” Everyday is different and everyone is different, and one of the most important keys to success is listening to our bodies.

Make it fun: 2020 is a big year. I like the number and intend on using it in my personal self- care and exercise plan. I will do 20 minutes of this and 20 minutes of that, plus another 20 minutes of something else. Use your own this, that, and the other to fill in the blanks. Spreading self-care throughout the day or week can be fun and beneficial. A short yoga practice is better than no practice at all. Do what you can, pause if you have to. Taking care of yourself is the goal.

Make whatever you intend to do fun and intentional. Maybe create five different exercises that you like, put them on separate pieces of paper, fold them up and choose them at random, so exercise doesn’t become a chore. Watch videos if it helps. (Check out for a great resource to get started with a gentle and mindful yoga practice. Or for guided meditation.) A gym isn’t necessary to exercise, but you might like the social aspect a YMCA or local gym may offer.

How we mentally approach exercise or meditation is probably the most important key to success. If we are miserable, bored, or confused on what to do, there is a good chance our first day of an activity will also be our last. Find a buddy or ask a care partner to play along with you. I say play, because workout sounds like, well, work, and that does not really have an element of fun to it. You can still have success with play – and smiling really does help.

Mostly, do what you can to care for yourself, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Everybody is different and our approach to exercise and self-care should be as well. For all of the “one days” and “somedays” we tell ourselves, use this leap year, new year, and decade as a place to start. Remember anytime is a good time, take small steps to make giant leaps, have fun and maybe Feb. 29 will be your “one day” and “day one” at the same time.