Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by adidas. All opinions are my own.
I recently saw a quote on Instagram that went something like, “If one’s idea of health doesn’t include the mental health aspect, then that idea of health is not complete”.
This resonated with me a lot because I used to talk so much about achieving the best health through eating a plant-based diet, exercising, etc. (just look at my earlier posts here on the blog), yet completely ignored the mental health part of my wellbeing.
Eventually this caught up with me big time, resulting in a body image crisis a couple years ago, and postpartum depression after my daughter’s birth in 2017. No matter how plant-perfect you diet is, if you don’t make time for self-care, you may still struggle trying to reach your goal of perfect health.
Believe me, I’ve known for a while that I needed to take care of my mental health, but I had no idea how.
For many months now, my days have been filled to the brim with watching my toddler, going to work, developing my blog, taking care of the house, trying to exercise at least every now and then.
Add to this a near-constant state of anxiety that even my postpartum antidepressant couldn’t manage, and you’ll see that I’ve been heading towards a total burnout.
Finally, a big change happened in November. I spoke to my doctor about my crippling anxiety and the medication I was taking, and we realized that she had prescribed an extended release version of my antidepressant, but the pharmacy had been giving me its non-extended release version by mistake.
After this mistake was corrected and I started taking the right medicine, I noticed a difference in the way I felt right away. No kidding – it took less than 12 hours for me to feel way more calm and relaxed even in situations that would have sent me over the edge before.
Once my anxiety was no longer standing in the way, I made a new realization: the main thing that kept me feeling down (aside from the previously messed-up brain chemistry) was the idea that I had to put more, more, more things onto my perpetual to-do list without dropping anything off of it.
I was never living in the moment – instead, I was constantly thinking about the next thing I needed to mark off my list. This interfered with my relationship with my daughter and my husband because I was often too distracted to be there for them.
I realized that I needed to reevaluate my approach to my day-to-day life for the sake of my family and my mental health.
After some soul-searching, I came to a conclusion that I needed to pay more attention to things and people in my life that matter the most, like my daughter and my husband, and to learn to let go of minor things and expectations that were saturating my life – and filling up my to-do list – without bringing much fulfillment.
So when adidas recently asked me to share my realistic New Year’s resolutions, I knew exactly what I wanted to say. Today I’m going to share five things that I plan to do in the upcoming year that I hope will help my mental health and my relationship with my daughter and husband.
My 5 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions
1. Simplify things. Like I said earlier, my tendency to put too many things on my plate and to overcomplicate everything often ends up draining my energy. Inevitably this leads to feeling frustrated when I can’t get much done.
This is why I resolve to simplify things whenever I can in the new year. Instead of making an elaborate 3-course meal I’m going to heat up some leftovers if possible, and spend the time and the energy I saved on playing with baby J or taking a walk with Rob.
Instead of posting here on the blog frequently or checking social media, I plan to spend less time in front of a screen, and more time with my loved ones.
2. Go outside regularly. Being outside always makes me feel better, both physically and emotionally. However, shortly after baby J was born last fall, my postpartum depression and anxiety escalated to the point that I found it extremely hard to get out of the house, which was making things even worse.
I am in a much better place these days, so getting out of the house doesn’t feel as hard to do. I still notice that I feel down whenever I spend all day indoors.
This is why I’m making a pledge to go outside regularly, every day if possible, to take care of my mental health. Of course it helps that baby J loves being outdoors too, so she motivates me to go out with her every day.
3. Set a reasonable fitness-related goal. For over half of my life I’ve regularly exercised in some way. I often set big goals for myself, like running a marathon or squatting my bodyweight, and worked on reaching those goals at any cost.
Our society praises us for achieving our fitness goals, and we’ll do anything to get that praise, even if it means working through an injury or cutting our sleep short just to get to the gym at 5 am before work.
Through some ups and downs in my own fitness journey, I came to a conclusion that a goal is not worth it for me if reaching it means going through misery, either physical or mental.
That misery just might be a way my body is telling me that I need to take it easy. The race day will come and go, but my body will be with me for the rest of my life. My wellbeing is worth more than a finisher’s medal.
So this is going to be my reasonable fitness goal this upcoming year: to go out there and try things, like maybe running a couple 5k’s or a half marathon, but only if training for them brings me joy, both physically and emotionally.
4. Aim to be in the moment. This is something that so many of us struggle with these days, but not everyone realizes how much damage our constant thinking about tomorrow can cause today.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve had moments when I was checking my blog while baby J was taking her first steps behind my back 🙁 . Even though this blog was “my baby” before my daughter became my actual baby, it should never compare in importance of me being there with her.
This is why I resolve to turn off my distractions as often as I can, and just be present when the actual important things happen in my family and in my life.
5. Don’t beat yourself up. My dissatisfaction with things when they don’t go as planned can go to ridiculous levels, which makes it hard for me to be flexible with my goals.
Being a parent implies constantly dealing with changes in plans. As hard as it can be, I need to learn to not beat myself up when that happens and I can’t complete what I’d set out to do. There will always be another mountain to climb, so I might as well save my energy for when I get closer to it.
I know all of this is easier said than done, but it’s important that I follow through with these resolutions for the sake of my relationship with my family and for my mental health.
Special thanks to adidas for providing me with the outfit I’m wearing in the pictures for this post! The S2S Pullover Hoodie and the Alphaskin Sport Climawarm Tights are perfect for a brisk outdoor run in this chilly Pacific Northwestern weather.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, share it with your friends on social media! And stick around for more awesomeness – subscribe to Vegan Runner Eats to receive the latest posts, or follow the blog on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.