Now that the holidays are behind us, it’s time to reconnect with ourselves. For many, the holiday season revolves around our loved ones – gifting to loved ones, taking care of loved ones, togetherness with loved ones. And while that togetherness is wonderful – and full of cherished moments – I have started to think of January as a time to reconnect with myself and re-center. It's my "me month". Below are five things I’m planning to do this month – and beyond–to make sure I don’t lose track of myself in the effort to take care of everyone else.
Reconnect with a hobby
Someone asked me two years ago what my hobbies were. I looked at them blankly in response. I used to have hobbies. But in that moment, I couldn’t recall any of them! I was so overwhelmed with taking care of my three beautiful (young) children during a pandemic I had truly lost sight of what I enjoyed doing independently of them and their needs. That moment was a huge wake up call for me. Ever since, I’m making small inroads to reconnect with activities I love that have nothing to do with my children or family life. For me it means working out every day, visiting galleries and museums with friends and trying new restaurants in Houston’s amazing food scene. These seem so simple – but it takes effort to make it happen on a regular basis. The impact? I feel so much more myself as a result and I’m a better caregiver.
Schedule alone time
Whether one is an extrovert or introvert, alone time is necessary to re-set. And following a busy holiday season, it could not be more important! How can you carve out 30 min for yourself daily or weekly? If you had time just to yourself, what would you do with it? This of course is related to the above – finding space for yourself and your interest in one’s busy and full life.
24 hour social media detox
My brilliant friend, Gabriela, used to do a technology detox every so often. She would tell us all in advance “I’m going offline for the weekend. I’m fine but don’t expect a response from me” Her intention in doing so was to be ever more present. The detox allowed her to be more aware of what was happening around her, more time to be more reflective (quietly, without outside feedback and input) and mental space to think and dream about her intentions for the coming chapter. We are all tied to our phones these days. And while that hyper connectivity can have major benefits, taking a brief break from it to feel more present can only have positive repercussions.
Try something new
I thrive on routine; always have and always will. Luckily, routine is a big part of my life right now as my children’s primary caregiver. My life literally revolves around their schedules. What that doesn't leave much time for, however, is trying new things. While routines can be comforting, they can also lead to ruts. Is there something new you want to try this month? It can be as simple as a new restaurant or going to a new exercise class or even attempting a new hobby (rock climbing anyone?). The experience of doing something new is invigorating and will help remind you of you, which is pretty critical for any caregiver.
Schedule and spend time with friends
This also seems fairly obvious, however… there are at least three friends of mine I have not seen in several months. And it’s not as if they live far away – they live in the same city! We are in touch regularly (for which I am grateful) but there is something magical about sitting with a friend for lunch or coffee and connecting in person vs. over text. Again, when we get wrapped up in others’ schedules and needs, it’s very easy to lose track of your own friendships. So schedule that lunch date and put in your calendar.