On January 1, 2019, a new Netflix series made ‘decluttering’ the buzzword of the year. In no time, ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ played into the fantasy of a clean home and a tidy life, making people hastily add it to their resolution lists. I stayed away as the trend although seemingly simple seemed too big at that time. Three years later, last weekend as I was ‘decluttering’ my cupboard—something I had found therapeutic in the last few months—Kondo, while promoting her new book said, “My home is messy but the way I am spending my time is the right way for me at this stage of my life.” I couldn't help but smile.
Also read: When slowing down makes you more productive
Changing things depending on where you are in life should be embraced more easily than sticking to things like a piece of chewing gum clinging to shoes: it just adds unnecessary complications and makes you irritable. It’s the same thing with resolutions. As the first month ends, some resolutions fall through limbo and giving up altogether might sound easier. But here’s the thing: Awareness of what feels right in the present will go a long way in bringing the joy back in resolutions and not making it a chore on a to-do list.
Big resolutions can’t be generalised because we don’t lead the same lives or have the same emotional and mental canvas. Adding those to our list creates an easy comparable marker that is bound to make someone feel worse about something they want to improve. Smaller and simple goals that focus on bringing in more experience might make the year more fun.
Here are five things you can do instead
Just a little bit of stretch
Fitness typically takes priority in resolution lists, with many ambitious goals such as going to the gym every day, weight-training, and high-intensity workouts. By the end of the month, as the five times a week reduces to barely once, it makes one give up on exercise completely. Next year, the procrastination spirit whispers.
But movement is important to keep the body alive. If your mental headspace doesn’t allow for big ones, do smaller stretches. Spend 15 minutes a day on easy stretches, that will help your body in the long run. It could be doing stretches using the office chair, floor stretches with good music to wake you up instead of hitting the snooze button, or those focused on increasing flexibility and mobility.
Try dining alone
Be it trying new restaurants or cuisines, making ever-adjusting plans with people doesn’t always work out. Over the years, more people have been discovering the freedom of eating out alone. Contrary to the views of French philosopher, Jean Baudrillard, “Sadder than destitution, sadder than a beggar is a man who eats alone,” negative connotations to solo dining are wearing off as people are walking into cafes and busy restaurants armed with a book or silence or both, ready to indulge in some self-care. This attitudinal shift has also been fueled by more cafes opening doors to working professionals and turning them into community spaces. So, the next time, an interesting food spot pops up, instead of waiting to go with someone, try taking yourself out.
Check-in with friends more often
Although there is more awareness about mental health, the hustle culture leaves people with almost no time for themselves or others. But as Reem Khochar’s article for Mint Lounge points out, “if slow productivity is propagated and discussed, it will help employees to learn that they have to learn to prioritise.”
As we learn to pause and make time for things that matter, there will be more to life than what we have been led to believe. Self-care is not just taking time out once a week, it’s more about checking in with yourself every day. And on the days that you feel like you have a little more energy, you could send a casual message asking a friend how they are doing and if you have the headspace, let them know that you are up for listening to the things that often feel too heavy to carry alone.
Make one habit more sustainable
With the climate crisis looming over our heads, many people are feeling anxious about the environment and the consequences of human activities. It affects mental well-being, and might make one feel like they are not doing enough. However, sustainability doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be vegan, use only eco-friendly products, and change the big things immediately. Those often feel too exhaustive, especially at a time like this.
Instead, make one switch towards sustainability. If you buy a lot of groceries, maybe go to wholesale retail once a month with your containers and get refills for rice, flour, and other essentials. Or check and try menstrual products that are eco-friendly such as pads made of bamboo or menstrual cups and see if that works. You could also carry your water bottle and cutlery on road trips to avoid buying more plastic.
Try one new thing
The best thing about learning new things is not the skill or activity that you pick up, it’s the stories that come with it. You get it to do something badly, laugh at it, recount it to a friend and add it to your shared jar of experiences. You do something good, revel in the job well done, soak up all the good feelings, and tell someone who would appreciate it too.
It could be learning a skill such as swimming, painting, or even theatre acting or starting that Instagram account to share your thoughts about your favourite films or your poetry or learning how to travel alone.