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10 New Year’s Resolutions That Have Nothing to Do With Your Appearance

As Mid-December rolls around, I’ve been seeing posts about New Year’s resolutions that make me cringe. The idea behind it is innocent enough — resolutions for a new year and a fresh start. Yet in today’s age, all I seem to see are resolutions focused on “health” (as in weight loss and fitness) and fed by commercialism and aging ideals of beauty.

Resolutions of late seem to focused on appearance that I have the urge to abstain on principle. They often exclude those who don’t have the ability to exercise and can do further harm to those in recovery from eating disorders.

Who’s to say that your New Year’s resolutions have to be dictated by society? Society may lead you to believe that you need to lose more weight, work out more and look different, but only because the beauty and fitness industry thrives on the vulnerabilities of millions. You’re fine. You don’t need to be defined by your weight. You don’t need to be defined by your appearance. You’re beautiful and amazing just as you are.

This year I’m doing something different. I’m setting resolutions and goals that will be healthy for me. I’m going to set these and realize that things may change and I may not stick to them. I accept my flaws and won’t be distraught if things go wrong. I set these resolutions as goals I would like to work toward. It’s doesn’t have to be the end all be all of things I must do or be all the time.

Here are some ideas for New Year’s resolutions that everyone of every ability can consider. If it doesn’t appeal to you or doesn’t seem healthy for you, that’s OK! Resolutions should be personal and crafted for what’s best for you.

1. Be more mindful.

Mindfulness isn’t something that comes naturally to me as someone who struggles with anxiety, mental illness and chronic pain. The present moment can often feel too overwhelming, so instead I tend get distracted, which generally only leads to more distress in the long run.

I would like to focus more on increasing my ability to practice mindfulness in a variety of situations. Mindfulness has a long list of benefits, and the internet is a great starting resource for those who would like to learn about mindfulness. There are even apps dedicated to the subject.

2. Do more for others.

I generally like to think that I do as much as I can for those around me and do my best to aid those less fortunate when I can. But I would like to be more intentional with giving this coming year. Doing more for other people may manifest differently for everyone, especially considering financial circumstances. Doing more for others may be helping a family member, donating to local charities, volunteering time with a charitable program or smiling at strangers on the street. Doing more for those around you helps not only them but yourself as well.

3. Practice self-care more often.

Self-care may mean something different to everyone, but I define it as listening to my brain and/or body and acting in a way that will honor what I need most. Some days that may mean calling in sick from work, declining a dinner invite because you need time for yourself, taking a bubble bath or getting your nails done.

I plan to try and intentionally practice self-care more often. As someone with chronic pain, it can be hard to navigate the world and do what I must do and also listen to my pain, but I plan to navigate the balance between listening to my pain and challenging the pain.

4. Stay in touch.

Staying in touch with everyone in my life can often feel extremely daunting and overwhelming. It’s hard for many with anxiety to reach out to maintain relationships. I know it’s true for me at least. Reaching out has the possibility of rejection, but the feelings and benefits of being more connected and involved in all of your relationships far outweigh the risks.

Plan a dinner outing with friends you haven’t seen in a while, be the one to initiate a text conversation or meet a friend for coffee. It doesn’t matter how you reach out, it just matters that you do.

5. Read more.

That book that came out a few years ago you wanted to pick up but never did? Time to read it. Your favorite poetry book you haven’t touched in years? Pick it back up. Whatever you want to read but haven’t because of excuses, pick it up and read it. I promise, it’s worth it.

6. Go to the doctor.

I’m personally often terrified of the doctor’s office and avoid it at any cost. However, bad past experiences and a needle phobia don’t mean I can procrastinate or avoid a necessary doctor’s visit. As someone with chronic pain, an eating disorder and old injuries, doctor’s visits may be challenging but still necessary.

7. Face fears.

Facing your fears may not seem like the most appealing thing to put on a New Year’s resolutions list, but it can be a game changer for your life. Challenging fears can open up whole new realms of possibilities and actions that you’ve never had before. You don’t have to do it all at once or learn to love whatever you’re afraid of, but challenging a fear can help you feel more confident and successful.

8. Be more creative.

I’ve heard from so many of my friends who they wish they were more creative and wish they could draw, sing and write. Insecurities and judgments stop so many people from embracing their creative side due to fear of failure and criticism. Try and find ways to be creative in your everyday life and don’t let fear of judgment stop you. Pick up that paintbrush, sing, perform and dance. Whatever you want to try, try it.

9. Be more open. 

Vulnerability can be a challenge for so many for a wide variety of reasons, but being open and vulnerable despite our difficulties and past experiences is incredibly important. Vulnerability fosters connections and can bring us closer in important relationships. Challenge yourself to be more open about your experiences in circumstances where you feel safe and respected.

10. Reflect more.

Reflecting is incredibly helpful, especially when it comes to recovery from eating disorders and for those facing challenges with mental illness. I find that reflecting keeps me more hopeful in seeing the progress I’ve made over time, and it helps keep me motivated to continue the process. With reflecting comes wisdom and insight into how to continue to improve the wonderful person that you are.

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