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Laura Franklin

‘New year, new me!” is the saying heard all around town as the new year approaches and we leave behind the troubles of years past.

Why is it we feel that we must create a whole new self when the clock strikes midnight?

This year let’s flip the script, out with the “new year, new me” and in with the “new year, an even better me!”

We are often so hard on ourselves, especially this time of year, that we glaze over all of the success we have had, or the growth we have made. This year instead of creating a “new me” let us continue to work on our past selves and practice self-love.

Self-love isn’t about instant gratification; it is about the appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical and emotional growth. Not sure what self-love would look like? Here are some tips:

Recognizing and accepting our emotional state. Even though social media may tell a different story, no one is happy all of the time. Nor are they the best version of themselves all day every day. An important part of self-love is holding ourselves to a reasonable standard. Acknowledging that some days will be better than others, and that is OK. This also means not acting like everything is fine, when it is not. It is key that we tune in to our emotional state so we can plan accordingly. This may look like tailoring our plans and changing our routine to best promote our emotional well being.

Taking time for ourselves. By taking time for ourselves we are able to evaluate our emotional state that we discussed above and dedicate some time to self-care. It is common to stretch ourselves too thin between work, school, social obligations, and daily life that we don’t seem to have much time to focus on us. Let us reevaluate our schedules and carve out time to be alone. This is not a time where we should be scrolling on our phones or mindlessly watching TV. This is the time for us to take part in activities that rejuvenate us, such as mindfulness activities and hobbies that bring us joy.

Setting boundaries. Learning to set boundaries that protect and nurture our relationships with ourselves and others is an important part of self-love. We can love ourselves more, when we set limits and learn to say no. By limiting the amount of activities that deplete us physically, and emotionally, we will instead have more time to focus on what we need rather than pleasing others.

Forgiving and accepting ourselves. Let us learn love and accept ourselves even when we fail at some these self-love goals. Mistakes will most likely be made and failures will happen, it is important that we do not judge ourselves too harshly for these things. Instead, let us appreciate how far we have come and appreciate our desire to grow.

Loving ourselves does not mean we think we are the smartest, most beautiful, most successful person in the world. Instead, loving ourselves is choosing to accept our so-called weaknesses, appreciating those so-called shortcomings, and accepting these are what make us who we are. If we choose even just one or two of these self-love actions to work into the new year, we will begin to find that we are more accepting of ourselves.

Lauren Franklin is a masters-level clinical intern counselor at Mental Wellness Counseling: A Traverse City Counseling Practice. She specializes in work with adolescents and teens and is currently accepting new clients. Visit www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com.

to learn more about Lauren’s practice and the services offered at Mental Wellness Counseling.

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