I love the new year…Well, sort of. Let me explain. I love the opportunity during the new year to reflect on what I want to create. I dislike the “pressure” of the “New Year’s Resolution.” It feels so forced. And if you know me, you know I dislike feeling forced to do anything… even if it is “supposed to be” good for me. 😉 So, I’ve made this time something I enjoy. Rather than a list of obligatory New Year’s resolutions, I’ve created my own ritual for the New Year. What do I do? I create. …AND I nurture myself. Every year I take a couple weeks during the Christmas to New Year period, when it’s slow and quiet, and schedule it for myself. In addition to lots of free time with my daughter and my family… I make sure I schedule time for myself, usually one week, ALL to myself. But the amount of time doesn’t matter. It’s about… Creativity and self-care. I love creating… new programs, new handouts, new articles, new presentations, and new webinars… Right now, I’m working on writing the outline for my new book that’s in the works with my new literary agent! I also have a new nutrition program for parents that I will be working and releasing this year. But I’m also focusing on self-care during this time. Focusing on my physical health and mental health, my emotional and spiritual health. All of it aimed at self-care. Reflecting on new habits/routines I want to create for this year… and right now. I’ve come to realize that after 20 years of waiting for life to slow down so I could take care of ME that it’s not going to slow down! So I’ve learned, I have to PRIORITIZE ME! I consider this time a luxury (that I’m grateful for), but it is also a necessity (in order to do what I do). Sometimes, I feel guilty… …Taking this much time for myself. But I’ve learned… If you want to do big things in the world, you need a lot of energy and vitality, so you need to take care of yourself. Let’s face it, whether healing your child or helping others, it takes a lot of energy. We all know the sentiment, “Put your mask on before assisting others” or “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” It’s true. We need to have energy and capacity to help others. Taking time for ourselves makes us GOOD moms/humans, not selfish ones. And we need energy and capacity to create. Instead of self-care as a luxury, consider it a necessity. Only you can prioritize you. Appreciate everything you do for yourself. No act of self-care is too small. I have a long and growing list of self-care strategies I have used over the years to help me when life gets hard, that I will be sharing with you this year. In fact, self-care for mom and dad is part of my program for parents to help their child with autism. But it doesn’t matter if you are a parent or not, whether this is personal or professional, self-care is important. Here are some of my current favorites that I used this week. Breathe. Focus on my breath and the present moment. This is not a small task. It’s a powerful one. It will always be available to you. Drink water. I bought 2 one-liter glass water bottles that I fill up at the beginning of the day. I’m reminded to drink it, and I have a good understanding of how much water I’ve had for the day. Eat something healthy. As a nutritionist, nourishing myself is a key part of self-care. I focus on boosting the nutritional value of each meal. This week I just added Brazil nuts as a snack for extra selenium during cold/flu season (as Terri Hirning, my friend and colleague, reminded me the other day). Choose anything that’s nourishing for you. Sometimes it’s a soup, other times it’s a bowl of greens for me. There are many choices you can make each day.Painting. I took up watercolor painting. I tend towards anxiety so I took up coloring a few years ago. I just decided to try coloring with watercolor paints and now I’m dabbling in watercolor paint. I love the feeling of the brush. It’s meditative like coloring and there is more ease in the brush strokes. Creative endeavors clear my mind so I can create. It’s meditative, a mindfulness practice. Dancing or rolling out. I like to add a body centered activity to my day. It gets me out of my head, since nutritional biochemistry is so cerebral, and helps me be more balanced. I love “poi” a form of fire dancing (that can be done without fire). But more recently I’ve just been dancing or even rolling out on a foam roller. My poi teacher, Isa Isaacs taught me this one… to do any body-centered practice every day. Buy flowers. I love beautiful things. They make me happy. Self-care includes exposing yourself to beauty. I bought three plants and I have to laugh because my favorite is the one in my bathroom. Every time I’m there, I get a little burst of joy. Haha. Do you have self-care activities you do? Make a list of ways you can nourishing yourself. Add to this list and use it to remind yourself of what you can do when you’re in the need of self- care. I hope you have a chance to create a list of creative endeavors you’d like to accomplish, or begin one right now. And share them on our blog.