It’s 2018, and just like the beginning of every new year, our TVs and news feeds are flooded with advertisements attempting to shame us into buying gym memberships and trying new diets. We are confronted with a barrage of before and after pictures, ridiculously toned people with washboard abs, and overweight folks looking sad and distressed.
I’m all for health and fitness, but this “new year, new body” narrative is garbage because it perpetuates fatphobia by demonizing large bodies and making them undesirable and “other.” If you sign up for a gym membership this year solely because you find the idea of being overweight repulsive or unattractive, you’re working out for the wrong reasons.
There are plenty of other New Year’s resolutions that can boost your happiness and productivity that don’t fuel body shaming. If you want to set some new goals for yourself, consider the following positive habits you can cultivate to make 2018 a better, healthier year.
1. Learn to manage your money
This is a huge one for me, and a goal many young adults could probably benefit from. I’ll shamefully admit that I’ve never created – much less stuck to – a legitimate budget. I realize, however, that if I ever want to function as an adult and save for my future, I need to stop spending money on things I don’t need and commit to saving and investing. If you’re also bad with money, there are several apps you can use to start making better spending decisions.
2. Make self-care a priority
By this, I mean putting your mental, sexual, and physical health at the top of your to-do list. If you have the resources to see a doctor or therapist, and you’ve been putting off making an appointment, now is the time to buckle down and see a professional. Don’t let your mental health take a backseat. If you’re experiencing even minor aches or pains, make it a point to see a physician. Even though the visits may be awkward, schedule regular appointments with your gynecologist. It’s easy to push your health aside when you have school, work, deadlines, familial obligations or hobbies, but the reality is that taking care of your wellbeing is too important to ignore this year.
3. Cut out toxic people
There is no shame in distancing yourself from, or completely cutting ties with, draining family members or friends. Dealing with people who tear you down, belittle your experiences, demand vast amounts of your emotional labor, poison your sense of self-worth, or hold views that you simply cannot compromise on is unhealthy and exhausting. Ending friendships can be painful, but it is sometimes necessary.
4. Go outside of your comfort zone
I’m a pretty shy person, but I’m also learning that I’ll never accomplish anything if I’m always intimidated. Moving beyond your comfort zone doesn’t have to be as drastic as taking a job in a new city – although, if you’re up for it, that’s great too! It can also include learning a skill or hobby, researching a social issue you’re unfamiliar with, volunteering with a new organization, or taking a short vacation by yourself. Baby steps are key.
5. Get political
This is no time to be passive. Advocate for marginalized communities, stand up for equality, call out injustice, contact your representatives, support grassroots organizations, and vote. If you are white, straight, cis, and/or able-bodied, it is especially important that you educate yourself about your privilege(s) so that you know when you’re actually helping, and when you should check yourself. Trump’s presidency isn’t over yet, and we are only aiding his administration if we become complacent.
6. Stop comparing yourself to others
Everyone is at different stages in their lives, and that’s okay. You’re not alone, or a dysfunctional human, if you are still trying to find the right job or get accepted into a certain college or program. It’s normal, although sometimes scary, for friend groups to change or dwindle. No one is better than you simply because they take vacations to exotic places or landed a great job with full benefits right out of college. You are a great person with a unique set of skills and talents. Don’t let the perceived success of others make you feel inadequate.
7. Take breaks from social media
This goes hand-in-hand with number six. Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are fun ways to connect with others, but they are also breeding grounds for anxiety and self-doubt. Don’t be afraid to temporarily delete some (or all) social media accounts if you are feeling overwhelmed. It’s understandable that you don’t want to see what everyone on your friends list is up to every second of the day.
New Year’s resolutions don’t need to be unrealistic. They need not be borne out of some insecurity that society tells you must be “fixed.” If you do want to set, and stick to, resolutions this year, pick some that are empowering and promote self-care.
2017 was a rough year. Let’s make 2018 better.