Along with all the possibilities of a new year, each new January also brings that familiar pressure to make new resolutions. You think this will finally be the year to quit that bad habit, lose weight, join the gym, or whatever it is you think will make a “better you.”
But what if your New Year’s resolution this time round is not to transform or change based on strict guidelines but instead to be kinder to yourself? Here are some ideas that can help you to focus on your well-being and self-care in the year ahead.
Take Time to Relax and Breathe
It sounds obvious, but one of the best places to start with self-care is just to take a deep breath. This simple action is one of the most potent tools to ground you instantly. Yet it’s one of the first things you fail to do when you get anxious or stressed.
There are many great apps with breathing exercises to help you relax and breathe better. Try iBreathe for its simple instructions that will allow you to enjoy a moment of calm.
Download: iBreathe for iOS (Free)
Learn to Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
The practice of meditation has lasted through the ages because it works. The whole idea of mindfulness and meditation is to learn how to be fully present in the moment. Of course, this does take practice, and you have to be patient with yourself as you learn some strategies that work for you. But it doesn’t have to take hours out of your day. In fact, many meditation apps allow you simply to take a mindful moment during your day.
Celebrate Yourself Through Self-Affirmations
You’re unique. You are confident. Your possibilities are endless. Do you believe that? Or does it seem ridiculous? Self-affirmations are simply short, positive phrases you can read and repeat to yourself to help transform your mindset. It’s a powerful psychological trick that many people swear by.
Try downloading a self-affirmation app and see if it works for you. Some, like the Motivation app, even have home screen and lock screen widgets, enabling you to get a little burst of positivity each time you look at your smartphone!
Download: Motivation for iOS | Android (Subscription required, free trial available)
Practice Gratitude by Keeping a Gratitude Journal
Instead of striving to be new, better, or different, why not practice gratitude for who you already are and what you have? One of the best ways to express gratitude is by journaling.
Recording your successes, however small, can give you a better perspective on your life. As you write down what’s positive, it promotes feelings of gratitude. It’s also great for clearing your mind and relieving stress.
Many great journaling apps make the process easier. For example, the Daylio app allows you to check in just by using emoji!
Challenge Yourself to Learn Something New
While learning a new skill may seem stressful in the moment, scientists have found that mastering a skill actually makes us happier in the long term. So this year, why not give your brain a new challenge? Instead of giving something up, take up a new hobby instead!
It doesn’t matter what you choose. The most important thing is to engage in the learning process. One good starting point for this resolution is to download Uptime. This app offers you the chance to “get smarter in 5 minutes” with quick summaries of all kinds of books, courses, podcasts, and documentaries.
Download: Uptime for iOS | Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
Keep Moving With Regular Exercise or a Fitness Challenge
There’s no denying that regular exercise is one of the best self-care activities for everyone. Instead of spending money on a gym membership or expensive equipment, you could use a simple activity tracker app that will record what you achieve each day, allowing you to celebrate your successes.
You also keep yourself motivated by taking on fitness challenges. Make the experience social, too. Apps like Nike Run Club feature social challenges, so you can set up a target for friends or family and get everyone involved.
Get Out Into Nature More Often
Numerous scientific studies, including one published in Environmental Research, have concluded that spending time in nature is good for your mental and physical health. This year, take time to enjoy the joys of being outdoors regularly. Numerous apps will allow you to connect with nature. Why not combine this with a physical activity challenge, and get the most out of breathing that fresh air?
Get a Really Good Night’s Sleep
You know that sleep is vital to refresh and restore you to meet the challenges of each day. But how often do you sleep soundly through the whole night? Sleeping better is one of the kindest self-care goals you can set yourself this year. And tech offers plenty of solutions, from apps to improve your sleep to sleep sound apps like BetterSleep that allow you to create soundscapes to fall asleep more quickly.
Download: BetterSleep for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)
Eat a Healthy Diet
Diet—not strictly aiming to lose weight, but focusing instead on eating regularly and healthily—is a genuine act of self-care. You can make your diet a priority in the year ahead by having fun exploring new recipes and ways of cooking to ensure you enjoy your food while getting all the nutrients you need each day.
There is no shortage of online cooking classes, healthy cooking apps, and healthy eating podcasts to inspire you towards a healthy eating program this year, whatever your dietary preference.
Track Your Wins With a Habit Tracker
The final act of kindness is to track your wins using a habit tracker. Each day, record your good habits and try to maintain an unbroken streak for whatever goals you set yourself. Apps like Today make the process easy and will even send notifications to remind you to get outside or take a moment to meditate.
Make sure there’s a reward waiting for you after a week, month, or year. Even a single day when you’ve achieved a self-care goal is worth celebrating!
Download: Today for iOS (Free, subscription available)
Make a New Year’s Resolution to Adopt Self-Care Practices
Now that you have a host of strategies for your self-care, you can take a different approach to your New Year’s resolutions. Hopefully, you’ll be happier, healthier, and more relaxed by this time next year.