Happy New Year!  I don’t know about you, but I feel relieved 2020 is over.  I know little has changed yet in the New Year, but the prospect of starting something new seems synonymous with hope and possibly.  This hope and possibility is what leads many to set New Year’s Resolutions or goals.

For the past few years in lieu of a New Year’s Resolution I have picked a theme word for the year.  A driving focus.  Last year it was Savor, the year before Confidence, and the year before that Bold.

2020 was a wild ride full of unexpected events and circumstances.  I know personally, with the unknowns of a worldwide pandemic, and my entire family at home, I opted to forgo many outings.  

I skipped almost every single routine doctor’s appointment. I just decided it wasn’t worth the exposure.  On top of that, unless I asked my husband to take off work, I didn’t have childcare for said visits.   

But I didn’t forgo doctors’ visits for anyone else.  If my kids had a routine visit, I made it happen for them.  I think that sums up motherhood for most of us moms – we prioritize everyone else’s welfare over our own.

Earlier this year I spoke at a Women’s Conference about “Pandemic Parenting,” and self-care became the focus.  I used the analogy of flying on a plane with your family.  Most of us are familiar with the pre-flight safety spiel.  

Remember the part where they advise those traveling with small children to first place the oxygen mask on ourselves before assisting others?  Well I would imagine in 2020 most moms were gasping for oxygen while frantically getting oxygen masks on everyone else but themselves. Looking back, so often I failed to do it myself even after encouraging others to do it.

Thus, my theme for 2021 – Health.  I know it’s not super spiritual, but it is important.  Let’s face it, if we aren’t healthy, we can’t properly care for others.  So, what does it look like to be healthy?  Being healthy encompasses more than just our physical health, it also includes our relational, spiritual, and emotional health.

What actionable steps am I taking in 2021 to pursue heath?  Well for starters I made a list of all those routine appointments I skipped.  One by one I have been scheduling them.  

I have also started speaking up more about little things that have been bothering me.  Like talking to my dentist about jaw and ear pain.  It’s minor, but honestly by the latter part of 2020 I was taking ibuprofen most days.  Turns out I clench my jaw at night while I sleep.  All I needed was a nightguard to fix the problem.  Now the jaw and ear pain are gone and I feel like a new person!

I am also focusing on eating healthier. If you know me well, then you know I am a foodie.  I love good food, and I especially love dessert.  If I am honest, healthy foods like fruits and veggies are rarely my “go-to.”  I am just as bad as my kids about needing to hide healthy foods in things I enjoy.  So, I am prioritizing fruits and vegetables more in my diet.  My goal is to have one or the other at every meal.  Simple, but important.

I also want to have healthy relationships – parenting, friendships, and marriage. For parenting thus far that means revisiting some excellent parenting books for a refresher (two of my favorites – Wild Things The Art of Nurturing Boys & The 5 Love Languages of Children). For friendships, it means prioritizing and scheduling more time with friends.  For my marriage, I want to be vision oriented.

What do I mean by this? I recently heard a podcast where a therapist was talking about working toward healthier relationships. She said typically we approach this through confrontation or by airing all our grievances. She suggested a better approach would be to describe your vision for the relationship and invite the other person to work with you toward this goal. I loved this approach and want to try it.

Spiritually I am prioritizing spending time reading the Bible and praying.  Prayer could really be my secondary word for this year.  Reading and studying the Bible comes much more naturally for me than setting aside time to pray.  So, I am intentionally setting aside time to pray.  I started a new routine where I begin my day with prayer.  I read a few verses and pray before I get out of bed. 

For my emotional health I have been moving and getting outdoors more.  At that same Women’s Conference I spoke at earlier this year, Michelle Nietart a speaker, author and counselor shared:

exercising 3-5 times per week for 30 minutes with your heart in the aerobic zone is as effective as a low dose of anti-depression or anti-anxiety medication. 

So, 3-5 days a week I try to do something active outside.  Typically, I try to include my kids because I know they need and benefit from physical activity too.    

What about you?  Can you relate to prioritizing everyone else over yourself?  Have you let selfcare go by the wayside?  Are you feeling like you need to intentionally practice selfcare this year?  If so, take some time to focus on health with me too. Let’s put on our oxygen masks first, because we are worth it!