What we want and need for a better self in the New Year
By Bekki Jo Pritchard
Photos provided by Baptist Health/Milestone Wellness Center
The “self” is a concept made of two components: personal identity and social identity, meaning how we see ourselves and how we interact with others. Face-to-face interaction is extremely important in developing the self. Alison Cardoza, Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer with Baptist Health/Milestone Wellness Center, says that face-to-face interaction is instrumental in developing our best self. The energy that is emitted through face-to-face interaction is electric. Endorphins are released and you are held accountable.
The whirlwind we know as 2020 has tested, pushed and forever changed how we develop our sense of self, which in turn affects how we interact with others. During a tumultuous year filled with COVID-19, shut-downs, restrictions, sacrifice, change, non-existence and loss, our normal lives which included family gatherings, dinners out with friends, hot yoga four times a week, spring break in Destin with everyone from the neighborhood and Derby hats with mint juleps have come to a screeching halt. Self-development has been short-circuited! Or has it?
Dr. Jan Anderson, a local psychologist who specializes in working with executives, professionals and their families said, ”There’s so much uncertainty, so we’re more anxious.” She goes on to point out that with isolation comes disconnection. However, at the same time, Dr. Jan said that overexposure to loved ones can push a person over the edge. Isolation, for most, has not really been an issue, but overexposure may have been. With this newfound awareness of both isolation and overexposure vulnerabilities, Dr. Jan is positive that it is motivating us to find more ways to handle it.
In living through many ups and downs myself in 2020, I look to 2021 with great hope and optimism. I have always been one who welcomes change because it offers the opportunity for growth. We either adapt and flourish with change or whither and go to the wayside. For 2021, I am curious to know what people need or want to be their best selves. As a fitness professional of 30 years and a college professor of Sociology for 20 years, the development of the self has been an intriguing aspect of the socialization process. I went to social media to find out what people want or need to be their best selves in 2021 and, I have to admit, I was happy to learn that I was not alone.
Cat Crawford, Owner of 502 Power Yoga, said, “Self-care takes practice, practice, practice! Start small with one thing, like journaling, meditating, gentle yoga moves or a morning walk and make it a habit. Practice every day, even if it is 5-10 minutes.” One tool Cat uses is an app called Insight Timer that is full of meditations, talks, music and courses all aimed at inspiring and encouraging mindfulness and self-care. For me, self-care has been very important. Hot yoga has been my form of mental self-care for many years and the pandemic really put a damper on my ability to continue practicing. As Dr. Jan mentioned, she is positive that we are motivated to find more ways to handle our vulnerabilities and anxiety. In hopes to counteract my anxieties about not being able to practice in the studio, I turned my back sunroom into the perfect yoga studio with beautiful, colorful tapestries, comfy pillows, LED candles, soothing lights and, most of all, the ability to create a heated room.
For many, compassion and positive talk towards others are not an issue. The problem is that we do not have compassion for the self and we are our own worst critics. Self-criticism and negative self-talk specifically impact our own behaviors and attributes and this in turn negatively impacts our well-being. Self-compassion and positive talk are two great gifts that we can offer ourselves. According to PostivePsychology.com, there are five steps to develop self-compassion:
1. Practice forgiveness.
2. Employ a growth mindset.
3. Express gratitude.
4. Find the right level of generosity.
5. Be mindful.
We must be aware that 2020 was a tough year for everyone. We must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and realize we are human. This past year, self-compassion has been a difficult aspect of life for me, just like many others.
Ralph Waldo Emerson had the right idea when he said, “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” If we could just extend the same patience and grace to ourselves as mother nature does to the earth, what a beautiful self that could flourish as does the earth. A few simple ways to help find self-grace and patience are:
1. Stop, take a break and breathe. Create a morning meditation ritual. Even if it is for just a few short minutes, those few moments of concentrated breathing can help bring clarity to an otherwise clouded mind.
2. Do not be afraid to tell yourself that you are proud of your accomplishments. Pat yourself on the back or give yourself a big kudo for the day. Positive self-talk is extremely important when developing a path to self-grace.
3. Do something for yourself. It can be as simple as a quiet lunch to yourself, a short walk around the neighborhood, that mani/pedi you love or snuggling up with your favorite book for the night. Do anything that is something that is important to you and makes you feel good.
4. Start your day with a positive affirmation. Begin the day with a positive outlook, smile and kind words of encouragement for yourself.
5. Remember that you are human. Forgive yourself for past mistakes and move forward in a positive way.
Michael Malherek, Reiki Master and Owner of Constitutional Wellness 11:11 in Las Vegas, NV, explains it best by saying, “Stop being an a**hole to yourself.” Kindness and acceptance are the easiest and quickest way to experience self-grace and patience. There is so much power in self-grace and patience. Just the intention holds a great deal of power and self-empowerment. Self-grace and self-patience hold a very self-healing frequency.
While researching for this article, I found that many of us are struggling with some of the same issues, maybe in different ways. Luckily, many of the ways in which we can seek out and find our best selves are held right from within. The beauty is that seeking from within is both inexpensive and priceless at the same time. Whether it is the addition of a brisk morning walk or a mani/pedi with Helen at the Oasis Spa at Baptist Health/Milestone Wellness Center, please remember that yes, this is all about you. You are building a better you in order to be the best for those who mean the most in your life. Make 2021 the year you seek out and find the best self you can be!
Bekki Jo Pritchard, BA and MLS at Baptist Health/Milestone Wellness Center is a Certified Pilates Instructor, Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, Barre Instructor, RYT 200 Yoga Instructor, Adjunct Professor of Sociology, College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, NV and Adjunct Professor of Sociology, Craftonhills College, Yucaipa, CA.