Here’s How Wellbeing Experts Are Approaching Self-Care This Year

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self-care 2021
Photo: Courtesy of @karinakasparyants

How are you finding 2021 so far? Not too bad? Utterly brutal?

There’s no right or wrong answer. Just as there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to how you approach a new year – whether it’s a long list of self-improvement goals and a calendar filled with classes/workouts/new hobbies, more of a gentle one-day-at-a-time affair, or something somewhere in-between.

Do what feels right for you, and if you’re not sure what that is, or it changes week by week (even hour by hour), that’s okay. It really is OK. One thing we can probably all agree on is that this pandemic is tough, and now more than ever is a good time to go easy on ourselves and each other.

We asked some of our favorite folks in the wellness fields to share their thoughts on how they’re approaching 2021 and what self-care priorities and intentions they’re setting. Just reading their answers is a tonic…


A Time for Healing and Restoring

Suzy Reading, Psychologist, Counselor and Author of 'Self-Care for Tough Times'

“Now is not the time for striving, or grand, elaborate plans – it’s time for healing and restoring. I’m prioritizing soothing my nervous system from the effects of an extended period of worry, pressure, and uncertainty. Lots of rest, early nights, calming touch, gentle stretching, walks in nature’s beauty while I call a friend so we can journey together, and I’ll continue to choose a visual and auditory diet that is life-giving.

“These daily rituals give me time and space to process my feelings, bearing witness to my grief over lost opportunities to connect and make memories in person during 2020,” says Suzy Reading, who’s written a series of books for adults and children on self-care and navigating challenging times.

“The past year has taught me the need to honor my boundaries and pace myself – I’ll be managing my diary carefully and keeping my energy bank topped up so I am best placed to cope with future curveballs, especially in the midst of more uncertainty. This is a New Year like never before, where we need less pressure, not more.”

self-care 2021
Photo: Courtesy of @isayokey

What Do I Need Today?

Gina Friel, Life Coach

“My motto for 2021 is ‘honor where you’re at’. My most powerful act of self-care is to ask myself one question every morning: what do I need to set myself up for the day? It’s such a simple question, but it takes me from autopilot to intentional action,” says Gina Friel, who carved a path coaching ‘wholehearted’ women following her own journey with the chronic health condition, PMDD.

“What started as a morning check-in works for any situation – ‘What do I need to set myself up for this meeting/doctor’s appointment/my period?’ – it gives me the chance to check in with where I’m at right now, so I can support myself in the best way possible and know that I’m honoring my ever-changing needs.”

self care 2021
Photo: Courtesy of @polinaloginovaa

Whatever We Can Manage Is Enough

Aj O’Neill, Dance and Fitness Instructor, Coach, and Choreographer

“I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions because I’m not great with the massive pressure that accompanies them, but there are some lessons from 2020 I’ll be taking with me into 2021. I wanted to see if I could cut down on alcohol and, taking it day by day, I now haven’t drunk in 150 days, which has had a huge effect on my clarity of thought and emotion,” says AJ O’Neill, who runs super-inclusive dance and fitness sessions.

“Other things that have helped me – and I’m continuing – include limiting app access on my phone, so I don’t have any social media before noon – it helps me get real-life things done and stops the news from ruining my headspace and mood. I also spend as much time as I can with my cats and try and make sure I get out of the house for a walk every day. It makes all the difference!

“Finally, I remind myself and my clients that in these difficult times, whatever we manage to do is enough. Do your best, that’s all you can ask of yourself. Forgive yourself and those around you with equal compassion. It’s the least we can do for ourselves and each other.”

self-care 2021
Photo: Courtesy of @polinaloginovaa

Kindness Is Key

Peta Coote, Self-Kindness Coach

“Kindness, as always, is key for me. Being kind to those around me, with those I work with, and being kind to myself. Getting outdoors every day for fresh air, drinking plenty of tea, and being gentle with myself will be the pillars of wellbeing for me in 2021,” says Peta Coote, who specializes in helping people seeking to ‘heal their relationship with food and their body’.

“I find writing down any worries in my journal incredibly therapeutic, and moving my body in ways that feel good will keep my mind feeling good too.”

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