Last week, I watched the ball drop while curled up on my plush living room armchair, sipping sparkling grape juice from a champagne flute, bargaining with my eyelids to stay open. I was ready to see 2018 come to a close. Last year brought joy and also pain. In the last 12 months I made a major career change, lived the busy life of a working mom and became pregnant with my second baby. Like you, I overcame painful obstacles and navigated some uncomfortable situations. I laughed, I cried, I did all the life things. I also worked on my recovery every day, managing anxiety and depression, seeking connection instead of perfection and practicing balanced behaviors. It was exhausting. And it was beautiful....
If you breathe Earth’s oxygen and have had an Internet connection in the last 30 days, you’ve been besieged by body-focused, achievement-based marketing messages promising a #NewYearNewYou if you shrink your body or achieve someone else’s measure of perfection. If you’re in recovery from an eating disorder, you’ve probably learned that there’s no attainable version of happiness to be found in such endeavors. You might therefore have resolved to never again participate in such toxic nonsense as New Year’s Resolutions.
I don’t blame you. But I’m not sidelining myself this year.
I am reclaiming the New Year’s resolution and wonder if you might do the same. Why? Because you are working hard to build a meaningful life outside your eating disorder and every new year marks another leap in your growth as a radiant human being. You are already enough, so why not celebrate by allowing ourselves to journey further up the path of lifelong recovery.
Here are four resolutions for the new year that can enrich your life, promote recovery, and won’t make you feel like crap by February
1. Take Notes (And Dream Big)
Last year I rediscovered my voice through writing, so this year I’ve started a journal. You don’t have to document every detail of every day to keep a journal. Be bold, dream big and spend only five minutes laying it out on paper. And while you’re at it, write down what you’re grateful for in that moment.
2. Pay Attention To Who Gets Your Attention
Your attention is a hot commodity and the world is practically bending over backward to get yours. News flash: Your attention is not a renewable resource, either. There are only so many hours in a lifetime. Have you ever kept track of how much time you spend each week scrolling Instagram or watching Hulu? Or how many pointless meetings you agreed to attend last month? Becoming more intentional about who and what deserves your attention means more time with the people you really care about, more energy devoted to the projects that matter, and more space to explore all the ways you are amazing.
3. Stop Being a Gossip Girl
Talking about other people can be deliciously tempting and a little (ok, a lot) cathartic sometimes. But it ultimately makes me feel like I’ve briefly morphed into the same vicious mean girl who made me feel so small in middle school. I’m not that kind of person, so I’m resolving to be more mindful of the gossip I consume and stop being someone who spreads it. Who needs that negative energy?
4. Schedule Self Care
Self-care is really about prioritizing time to take care of yourself even if it looks more like organizing and less like a deep-tissue massage. Buy a planner (I like this one) or use the calendar app on your phone to literally book a meeting with yourself for self-care. Every day.
Living just one year of life beyond an eating disorder means embracing the peaks and valleys of your journey so far, but it can also mean learning how to climb higher. Even though I’m years into my own recovery, every passing January 1st is an accomplishment worth celebrating by enhancing the life I lead. You’re worth celebrating, too.
Written by Kathryn Orr, MSW, LCSW
Emily Estes lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her Goldendoodle pup, Miss Adley Mae. Recovery from her own struggle with an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression has led Emily to create community and resources to empower others on the journey. Emily owns Sage Nutrition, LLC where she serves as a Registered Dietitian. Her work revolves around her motto that "food is meant to nourish our bodies, not nurture us."