Your Year of Self Care: A Guide to Honor, Love, Forgive and Prioritize Yourself 
Theresa Polley
December 29, 2022
September 7, 2023
Year of Self Care

You have permission to make 2023 the year of you. Read that again. I'm not talking about setting overzealous resolutions that will annoy you in a couple of months or some aspirational "New Year, New You" bullshit. I'm talking about making yourself a priority—to honor, love and forgive yourself. Every day, without excuses.

“A mindblowing, singular breakthrough is not what changes your life. A microshift is.” ~Brianna Wiest

How To Use Your Year of Self Care Guide

The best way to get through a big to do list is to break down each task into smaller tasks. Similarly, the best way to create lasting change, making ourselves a priority in our day-to-day lives is by breaking down life-changing habits into “microshifts.” 

Microshifts - tiny incremental changes incorporated on a daily basis and made over a period of time to create lasting changes in our lives.

Each month, we’ll give you a specific way to prioritize yourself, along with a blog that will help you implement a new microshift, little by little.

Why You Need A Year of Self Care

Research has shown that not only are women more susceptible to burnout, but they face higher rates of burnout than men — statistics show the problem worsening in the last few years  It's no wonder! We are wired to be constantly on alert. We tend to be caregivers in some capacity – children, grandchildren, partners, aging parents, fur babies, the list goes on. We bear a greater burden of domestic chores and errands. And as we strive to get ahead or just make ends meet, we experience alarmingly high levels of burnout in the workforce. All of this on top of facing mental health challenges, which we are 40% more likely to develop than men

Our high level of stress puts us in a continuous state of fight or flight, causing our nervous system to be on overload. That can lead to trouble sleeping, stress and anxiety. Sound familiar? I designed this guide to help you take your life back on your terms. Life should be more than just another task to power through. 

How to Practice Self Care, Month by Month

1. Build a Routine (January)

A routine allows you to take time to care for yourself and sets you up to successfully reach your goals and accomplish tasks. In Ayurveda, a routine is an essential part of our physical, emotional and mental wellness. Here are four things I find helpful to building a routine:

  • Avoid Your Phone First Thing in the Morning 
  • Set a Daily Intention
  • Schedule Your Sleep
  • Make Downtime a Priority

Read More: 4 Weeks to Build A Meaningful Routine To Sustain You

2. Practice Self Love (February)

It’s a fact: so many women struggle with embracing self love. Whether you believe the false messages that you need to “look and behave a certain way to be worthy of love,” or hear a voice that says “You/I don’t deserve love,” the truth is you do deserve it. And you sure as hell don’t need to earn it. Here are two things you can start doing, today:

  • Notice Your Negative Self Talk
  • Practice Forgiving and Accepting Yourself

Read More: How to Love Yourself Again (Or for the First Time)

3. Prioritize Your Sleep (March)

Are you getting enough of one of your body's most essential functions—sleep? I haven't always prioritized my sleep, but when I did it radically changed my life. Today, I prioritize sleep over yoga, working out, eating right and even my social life. Why? Not only does it make the day-to-day challenges of life less daunting, but it's also a way that I practice caring for myself physically, mentally and emotionally.

Read More: It's Never Too Late to Start Prioritizing Your Sleep

4. Feel Your Feelings (April)

When was the last time you allowed yourself to feel your feelings? Whatever the rationale, not feeling our feelings is harmful to our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

  • When you ignore emotions, they can have a “boomerang” effect and come back even stronger. 
  • By numbing the “negative” emotions—sadness, pain, etc.—you also numb the “positive” emotions because we can’t selectively numb emotions.
  • Regardless of if you choose to do so intentionally or not, you will feel emotions. Not acknowledging them, however, can cause pain and suffering. 
  • Feeling our emotions allows us to connect to others and form better relationships.

Read More: How to Feel Your Feelings (And Why You Should)

5. Give Yourself Permission (May)

It’s easy to believe you’ll get to that perfect place in your life and be happy and content, once you achieve XYZ. The future is not guaranteed and waiting to do something until an arbitrary deadline has been met is unhealthy. There is nothing too large or too small that needs to wait - do it now.

  • Give yourself permission to do the impossible.
  • Give yourself permission to rest.
  • Give yourself permission to let go of people or situations that no longer lift you up.
  • Give yourself permission to leave things undone - chores, work, text messages or emails not returned immediately.
  • Give yourself permission to pause and consider a new opportunity.
  • Give yourself permission to feel your feelings.

Read More: Give Yourself Permission to Live a Life You Love

6. Let Yourself Unplug (June)

These days, trying to maintain any sort of work-life balance can seem impossible. In addition to work related tasks there’s always something else that needs to be done. Going to the grocery store. Making dinner…again! Washing clothes. Cleaning the house. The thought of all that I “have” to do feels overwhelming. Maybe you can relate.

If any (or all!) of the following rings true, you need to schedule downtime immediately. Not waiting until when you have the time, instead make the time.

  • Your idea of balance is unattainable
  • You don’t prioritize yourself
  • You’re caught in perfectionism, control, and/or people pleasing 
  • You hold onto things that hold you back
  • You struggle with saying no
  • You haven’t forgiven yourself
  • You simply need a break

Read More: Why You Need to Unplug

7. Check In With Yourself (July)

By checking in with ourselves we discover what we need. Mindfulness plays an important part of being present with our wants, needs and desires. If what you’re doing isn’t giving you the reality you want, you can take steps to change it. Awareness is the key. Use these prompts to start a conversation with yourself. 

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What is my intention?
  • How am I feeling? 
  • Do I need rest, relaxation, movement, connection, play, something else?
  • Am I living the reality I want? 
  • What needs to be changed or tweaked? 
  • If I could change one thing, what would it be?

Read More: Check In With Yourself

8. Stop "Should-ing" on Yourself (August)

It’s easy to fall into the trap of “I should" - I should be doing this or not doing that or I should look this way but not that way. Maybe someone else tells you - what “you should" be or do. That is not helpful, but it is hurtful. Make a vow to stop shoulding on yourself! It’s okay to:

  • Not have everything figured out.
  • Feel angry, sad or both - and not know why.
  • Say no to invitations and anything else that doesn’t bring you joy.
  • Make peace with leaving things undone - for now or forever.
  • Let go of opinions, judgements and expectations - from yourself and others.
  • Take a mental health day - in your pajamas, binge watching and eating your favorite snacks.

Read More: It's Okay to Not Be Okay

9. Practice Mindfulness (September)

Most of us can’t help but to rehash the past, even though we can’t change it - we simply waste our mental and emotional energy. We look to the future and worry - which increases our fear and anxiety. When you are fully present in the moment you are present with your life and the people in it, including yourself. Simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine:

  • Make a to-do list and limit multitasking
  • Reduce screen time
  • Eat without distraction (phone, TV, work, etc.)
  • Set an intention for the day
  • Spend time in nature

Time spent in mindfulness allows for self reflection and the deep personal knowledge of your emotions, your energy level and what brings you joy.

Read More: Mindfulness is Your Superpower

10. Overcome Your Fears (October)

As humans we prefer the discomfort that we already know. That’s one reason why we may be afraid of change. Change begins by stepping out of your comfort zone which is really scary. Good things happen outside of our comfort zones.

  • Identify your fears - from the big scary ones to the ones that seem silly.
  • Find acceptance for yourself as you are today - flaws and all.
  • Embrace gratitude for small and big things you may take for granted plus the challenges you’ve faced and survived over the years.
  • Trust your intuition every time. There’s nothing worse than living with the regret of not listening to your intuition.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.
  • Take baby steps.

When we step outside of our comfort zone, we open ourselves to new possibilities and anything can happen

Read More: Overcome Fear and Live Confidently

11. Take Back Your Life with Boundaries (November)

Setting boundaries is self-care. It doesn’t mean you are selfish or unkind. Boundaries are necessary and should be non-negotiable. If we don’t have boundaries how are we able to prioritize what we need? The answer is we can’t. Make you and your needs your first priority. Boundaries allow you to:

  • Separate your personal life from your work life.
  • Free yourself from taking responsibility for someone else’s actions, emotions or life. (That responsibility lies with them.)
  • Give yourself the self care you need and deserve
  • Make changes so not everyone has 24/7 access to you. 
  • Say no, break plans, not answer calls or texts. 

Read More: Dare to Set Boundaries

12. Honor Yourself During Winter Solstice (December)

Winter Solstice is an opportunity to find stillness and reflection before moving into the changes that lie ahead in the new year. It's the perfect opportunity to go within – a time of journaling and self reflection - to recognize patterns and redirect my energy for the new year. Ways to honor yourself:

  • Take time for self reflection.
  • Practice gratitude and find what brings you joy.
  • Spend time in nature to be alone with your thoughts.
  • Move your body and clear your head.
  • Take stock of how you spend your day.
  • Give yourself permission do do what YOU want and need.

Read More: Winter Solstice - A Time for Reflection

When It All Feels Like Too Much

  • First and foremost find Compassion for yourself. Acknowledge how you feel is valid.
  • Know you are not alone in your struggle.
  • Give yourself grace, you’re doing the best you can.
  • Indulge - pasta, chocolate, wine, fruity drinks with umbrellas, Netflix and chill. Pick your poison - responsibly.
  • Listen to music. Loud! Dance!
  • Cry. A little. A lot. Ugly cry. I am sometimes afraid to start crying, because I worry I'll never stop! Get out of your house and go for a walk.
  • Call a friend. Ugly cry together. Indulge together. Walk and talk.

Sometimes if all you did today was survive – that’s okay. Tomorrow is another opportunity to prioritize yourself. Just remember, you cannot thrive if you’re just trying to survive.

This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988

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Theresa Polley

Theresa believes ALL women have the right to live life on their own terms. In 2004, she created Retreat in the Pines to give women a safe space to be their authentic selves without apology while finding the healing and renewal they deserve.

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