book review self-care

Better Than Before: How I Am Going to Rock A Fresh Start in the New Year

So I recently started reading “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives” by Gretchen Rubin. The book is all about figuring out how to break bad habits and make good ones, in order to build happier, stronger, more productive lives. Sounds awesome, right? I’ve been struggling for months. I want to “eat healthier” but I can’t seem to make it stick. Same with exercising, budgeting, sleeping more and being more organized at work. I also would love to figure out concrete strategies that I can use to cope with my mental illness and deal with the daily symptoms that I experience.

The past few months have been pretty ridiculous, even by my standards. I had a urinary infection, food poisoning and a sprained ankle within the same three weeks. Then, I had a bit of a mental health breakdown, experiencing extreme anxiety symptoms such as derealization and depersonalization. I had to miss over a week of work. Then, just a few weeks later, I woke up with appendicitis and had to get emergency surgery, causing me to miss another week and a half of work. It really feels as if everything that could be going wrong, is. And I’m terrified that this streak will continue, with more awful shit being piled on, over and over again. I don’t feel anymore as if I am in control of my own life. It is overwhelming and scary and I feel like I am in a constant state of anxiety.

I’m inspired by the book, however, to try to take charge and make changes that will help me gain control of my life again. According to Gretchen Rubin, research suggests that people feel more in control and less anxious when engaged in habit behaviour. I don’t think it’s impossible. I know it will be a lot of hard work but I’m willing to do it and I think it’s worth it. I’m actually a little bit excited. I keep trying to imagine a life where I feel healthy and happy, and I have to say, it’s an appealing image. Gretchen says that for a happy life, it’s important to cultivate an atmosphere of growth. I’m ready to start growing.

Next Thursday is my last day of work before the holidays. I know people always make fun of those who make New Year’s Resolutions, but I really feel as if this winter break is a perfect time to relax, recharge and start off the New Year with a clean slate and a fresh start. I have so many dreams and goals for myself. It’s a bit ambitious and I need to start slow, but I hope that 2017 will be my year to turn my life around. I want to be a good employee, co-worker, friend, family member, partner, neighbour and community member.  I want to make a difference. And the only way that I can have an impact on the world around me is if I make changes on a personal level first. What’s that saying? You can’t pour from an empty cup. I’m eager to move beyond engaging in self-care into changing the world. But it’s going to take baby steps.

So how exactly am I going to change my habits? And which habits am I going to change? According to Gretchen, there are seven areas in which most people want to improve their habits.

  1. Eating and drinking more healthily
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Saving, spending, and earning wisely
  4. Resting, relaxing and enjoying life
  5. Accomplishing more and stopping to procrastinate
  6. Simplifying, clearing, cleaning and organizing
  7. Engaging more deeply in relationships

As someone who dives head first and tries to take on the world, all of that sounds good to me. I’m going to try to work on each area in some capacity, because I truly believe that all seven are truly important and life-changing.

What is the main habit I want to pick  up? Going to therapy on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. I think this fits in with number seven, because you are engaging more deeply in a relationship with yourself when you go to therapy. I used to see a therapist weekly for over two years but then one day, I just decided to stop going. Sometimes it was really frustrating because I felt like I had nothing to talk about. So I don’t think weekly will necessarily work for me, unless I’m going through a bad patch and need a lot of work.  But I think attending therapy in general is really important because it provides a safe space to talk about my problems and anxieties and figure out how to address them in a healthy way. Funnily enough, I don’t think I really clicked with my previous therapist, but it became a habit to see her. So I’m on the hunt now for someone who will truly help me, versus just someone who will listen to me and provide a few comforting words.

I also want to start doing yoga. I feel that it would help me with my flexibility and strength, of course, but I also think that it would help me be more mindful and help me focus better at work and even in personal activities like reading. I love to read but lately (the past few years) I spend much more time on Netflix. Why? It’s a lot more passive. I feel constantly that I do not have the mental energy to focus on a book. And that’s kind of depressing. So I need to find ways to improve my focus.

I also want to start meal planning and keeping a food journal. I am constantly saying that I need to eat “healthier” but then I make terrible choices, especially when I am at a restaurant. If I keep a journal and show it to my nutritionist, I will be more accountable because someone else will be reviewing what I ate. Why is it important to eat healthy, especially for mental health and mental illness? Well, there is a lot of research that suggests that eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and unsaturated fats will help improve your mental health. Research has shown that high-fat dairy, fried, refined and sugary foods increase risk of depression. I also personally feel that eating well makes me happier because I know that I am taking care of my body. Also, losing a bit of weight would have a huge impact on my self-esteem. Meal planning will help me take control of my diet. It will also help me save money.

So these are MY New Year’s Resolutions (well at least some of them).  What are yours, if you have any? If you don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions, what habits do you want to change in general? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below.

Cross your fingers with me that the New Year will bring good things for me! Here’s hoping to a year that is not impacted by my mental illness.

16 comments on “Better Than Before: How I Am Going to Rock A Fresh Start in the New Year

  1. Oh I am so with you on this one! My main goal for 2017 is to find a therapist I can talk to regularly about my Post Natal Depression and the stresses of being a carer for my parents.

    Here’s to a better year in 2017 and I really hope you have good health too, getting ill a lot is tough on anyone!

    Much love, Karen
    http://www.beyondthebathroomscale.co.uk

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  2. I want to lose weight. I eat well, but maybe it could be better. I have to find a way to lose some weight. I’m reaching out for help on this one this time.
    I want to find some form of exercise I can do. I’m thinking of trying Tai Chi. I’ll start looking into it this week.
    Thanks for sparking my thoughts.

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  3. All good ideas! I was hoping moving to Toronto would get me out of the funk I was in and while the change has been good to me I am still struggling with bad habits.

    If you want a yoga buddy please let me know!’ I bought a new mat and even a Groupon for some classes and have yet to drag my butt to them…

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  4. Hi beverly, my name is blaine lol, and i am schizophrenic. I have been on disability since 2013. I see a therapist once a week. I noted your desire to perhaps lose weight and I have done really well with this simple rule 1200 calories a day is maintaining, anything less is losing. I have lost more than 50 pounds on this diet in 18 months, no exercise, but i recently added exercise and it’s coming off faster. This diet doesn’t exclude anything, and recently i have started to investigate more healthy foods and it’s interesting to me. I have had good luck with a budget that is taking out 100 dollars a week on the same day each week, for food and entertainment – which for me entertainment is buying diet colas and hazelnut french vanilla cafes. if i don’t buy too many books and things – i’m addicted to amazon, I can save. I joined a gym – planet fitness, 24/7 10 dollars a month no contract, i recommend it. and i have a yoga class once a week at a studio downtown. you can find yoga classes on youtube. I am interested in losing some more weight so that I can possibly surf next summer. I looked up yoga for surfing and found some really nice flow and vinyasa segments. i took notes. good luck with all of your goals and have a wonderful 2017! xxb ❤

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  5. Oh and I wanted to say so well done you for continuing to work. strength courage, peace and love to you – b!

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  6. I hadn’t thought about making any New Year resolution, thank you for the reminder! You have great resolutions. My biggest resolution would be to promptly reply to family and friends. I tend to isolate and not reach out to people, which only gets worse the longer I put it off.

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  7. chainbreakercorporation

    You are an inspirational girl!
    (*^ω^)八(⌒▽⌒)八(-‿‿- )ヽ

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  8. Good luck, I really hope 2017 is kinder to you, 2016 sounds like a very stressful year for you. I’m also hoping to start up yoga with my husband – I think I’ll have to drag him there! I’m on the hunt for a new therapist too. It can take meeting a few before you find someone good who you can click with. Hope you find someone good!

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  9. bpd2know1amworthy

    Thanks for sharing! I feel for you having to go through so many different things one after the other – your strength in moving through and onward is very encouraging! Thank you! My new year goals are to continue with regular exercising at the gym as this is such an important self-care tool for me, I’ve re-started my blog 🙂 and I too want to eat healthier and try to have a more balanced regular schedule of sleep, work, recovery, and play – keeping it simple and real. Cheers to an awesome 2017!!! 🙂 ❤

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