“New year, new me.” Isn’t that what everyone promises themselves on January 1? There are the typical goals: go to the gym, eat healthier, take control of your career. Then there are loftier goals: travel more, check off bucket list items, up your Instagram game.
I’m no different, however, most of my goals were centered around what I wanted to accomplish with my volleyball career. As a professional athlete, I’m often in a different country, on a different team, with a different league — every year it’s a different task, but the end result is always for a better, more improved me.
While I truly believe goals are important and have pushed me to places I would only dream of, this year my goals won’t be measured in stats. Instead, I’m going to focus on putting myself first. I’m not going to zone in on numbers; I’m going to pay attention to how my body feels and what it’s telling me. For example, backing off on extra workouts so I can recover more or getting more sleep instead of going out with friends.
While it may not seem like such an abnormal resolution, it is empowering to say it out loud. Being more authentic in 2018 means coming to terms with battles of anxiety and depression — both as an athlete and as a person — and sharing those struggles to empower those around me. With more people obsessing over social media and wishing for someone else’s life, this year should be the year we accept ourselves as the imperfect, unedited and unfiltered humans we are.
READ MORE > WHY I PLAY: VOLLEYBALL IS MORE THAN JUST A GAME
It’s important to realize you can’t reach your fullest potential if you aren’t honoring the things that drive you and make you, well, you. Here are my self-care tips for 2018:
PUT YOURSELF FIRST
From running a bubble bath to getting more sleep, 2018 is all about self-care so you can be the best version of yourself so you can show up for your relationships, career/sport and life. It’s OK to take time away from others to reset. If you don’t want to go out with friends, say no. There’s nothing stopping you from making you happy — and there’s nothing wrong with it either.
MEDITATE AND DO YOGA
Hello, overactive brain. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t sit still. I sprained my ankle this year and while the trainer was trying to tell me what to do, I was too busy watching my team play because ball is life, duh. I can’t write without background noise, and I can’t sleep because … Netflix. However, I’ve become more focused in all areas of my life. Taking time to slow down and just breathe deeply has done wonders to ease my anxiety so I can be present. Find what works for you and create a daily reminder on your phone to carve out time to center yourself.
Also, adding a daily down dog to your routine can put your body and mind into a positive state to take on the day. Take even just 10 minutes to work on breathing and give your body some love.
SET INTENTIONS, SMALL GOALS
This is a slight variation of mediation. Each morning when I get up, I set an intention for the day, which helps me live fully in my work and in my interactions. It may sound like some woo-woo gibberish, but it has helped me in my day-to-day. I tend to think of goals in the long-term; however, by setting a daily intention or goal, I feel a sense of immediate accomplishment, which takes my mind off those lofty, long-term goals that sometimes feel overwhelming.
Whether it’s volunteering at the local food kitchen or donating to people in need, the act of giving always boosts my sense of purpose. It is the foundation of my gratitude. Two of the organizations I’m involved with are Akasa and Big Green. Driven by my passion for healthy food and sustainable living, these organizations teach kids in the inner city to grow and prepare their own food. Interacting and sharing my passion has been an amazing outlet but the students are really the ones doing the teaching (cliché but true).
The new year is already here, make sure it’s your best year yet!