By Ruby Martin
It’s the beginning of January and we have already been bombarded with all the “new Year, New Me” shenanigans, ranging from all the shops pushing gym wear, to well-meaning relatives asking you what your resolutions are as you finish off the left over chocolates. Now I, like most people, have never been great at keeping resolutions (I once resolved not to swear despite being known amongst pretty much all my friends for flipping them off almost excessively.) However, the last year or two I decided that if any form of meaningful change was to happen, I would have to change the perspective first. The second thing I realised however this year was that I also maybe didn’t want to change, per se.
The capitalist society that we live in requires us to keep striving to change our deemed “imperfections” in order for large corporations to keep making money, whether it’s our appearance, habits, hobbies etc. Even better, if they can successfully get us to mentally perpetuate a shame cycle of trying and failing and trying again (*cough* dieting industries *cough*) then they can make money indefinitely whilst we continue to beat ourselves up in the process.
In the end, something has to give and normally it’s us.
“But isn’t the whole premise of your magazine that you are trying to change and be better people Ruby?”
Well, yes. But we are a anti-lifestyle magazine in the sense that we are trying to work outside the commercialised image of what is sold to us as “wellness”. After all, self-care is not a candle, bath bomb or a paid app for “mindfulness” (like seriously, how did people manage to make money from thinking?).
Instead, my new system is more a proposal of managing our delicate identity ecosystem, which lies somewhere between morals, mental health and various environmental factors.
So here goes, these are not my resolutions, but things I aim to implement which will hopefully improve my own wellbeing considering the shitshow which is often modern life. Let’s not be fooled though, this isn’t just a repackaging of resolutions, as I will also be including the things I will not be changing, things I enjoy and don’t see the need to punish myself for. Also, by having these as aims rather than something resolute, it means when I fail, not everything is lost as it is not “broken” in the same sense.
1.Food and Drink
Now this is always a loaded topic, especially around New Years, but let me say this: I will not be going on a diet. Diets and Diet Culture can permanently go fuck itself forever as an insidious example of a disaster capitalism which has permeated and poisoned a society like no other.
What I will be doing however, considering the fact that climate change is very much real, and also being one of the Sad People on the Internet™, I will be making an effort to try eating more sustainable and vegan meals with hopefully more fresh fruit and vegetables to do a little bit for both my brain and the environment. Like the smug hipster I am, I have already made the switch to oat milk (the most sustainable of milks according to this article, which also has some other handy sustainability tips!) The important thing is that I am trying new recipes and exploring food in a fun healthy way (I recommend the FREE Tasty app if you’re a novice like me).
I will not, on the other hand, give up my one true love, grilled cheese toasties. Like a sexy bed of cheese and dairy, I have to quote the Rolling Stones when I say “wild horses couldn’t drag me away”.
Similarly I will be participating in a sort of Dry January, although I plan for it to be more long term and nowhere near as strict. My current plan is that unless it is an occasion (birthday, holiday, etc.) I will be trying to stick to the soft drinks due to alcohol being an a depressant and all (Classic Sads™ am I right guys??). However, will that stop me from sampling beer when I go to Brussels in a few weeks? Hell no, I will be stuffing my face with beer, chocolate and chips as if my life depended on it (and to be honest, not sure what the other veggie options are.)
2. TV, Tech and other Hobbies
Now if you know me you will know that two of my favourite hobbies are binging TV and chatting shit on Twitter. Admittedly though, if you really know me, you will also know that I have a lot of side projects and hobbies I like to do (buy my badges here!)
Now in order to me to do more of the creative stuff I like doing, I also have to cut down on the stuff which I definitely find less fulfilling but also is far less taxing and much easier to do. Rather than going cold turkey however. I am trying to limit myself to two episodes of anything a day, and investigating screentime limiting apps (please comment if you have any recommendations.) Whilst I also aim to read at least 12 books this year, will I stop reading fanfiction in bed? Still, very much no.
Also, I have made a pledge this year that in terms of gigs, I will only be doing gigs that either interest me, challenge me, has been recommended or I know the promoter (most often a combo of all of these factors). This may considered a holier than thou approach but it also seems insane to spend so many of your evenings in faraway places with spiteful, competitive audiences instead of stuff that makes you happy for the sake of “making it”. I’d much rather do a couple less gigs but they are gigs that make me happy and foster an audience from there.
4. Actual Self-Care
When I say this, I mean the difficult and boring things to actually maintain my health, e.g.
- Take my pill regularly.
- Avoid things that I know will give my stomach problems like sweeteners, fizzy drinks and caffeine and drink more water instead. There’s only so long I can pretend I have no idea why my stomach hurts, even if it means giving up my beloved peach iced tea.
- Try to keep things actually tidy (my attempts at this will be coming to you soon in article form as I am both perpetually messy and incredibly anxious about mess. Why is my brain like this? We may never know.)
- Floss more. Hygienist appointments are one of the most horrific Saw-esque torture things you can think of and I wish never to have to do it again.
- Work on my relationship – It’s hard to admit you’re an asshole at the best of times, so this year I’ll be trying to check myself before I wreck myself (and others).
- Try and go back to my doctor to try and source some counselling. After facing some real mental dips this year and trying phone therapy (I was forcibly persuaded despite telling them phone calls make me anxious!!) I want to try and access some in person help before I face another crisis again. I’m okay at the moment, but I know when I crash, it will be hard and I’d rather be adequately supported for once.
These are all valid aims in my opinion and I hope it inspires some of you at home to maybe assess what can actually help you this year rather than what might be sold to you as “self-care” superficial plaster solutions. Also, please don’t get disheartened if you can’t stick to them immediately. Let me emphasise this:
Progress isn’t linear.
Striving for all of this is dandy but also do remember to enjoy yourself and most importantly, you don’t have to feel guilty for your choices (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone). I can solemnly promise that I will not be giving up candles or bath bombs as I love Lush with a passion (if you ever need an ambassador, let me know)!
After all, you only live once so whilst you take of yourself, why not enjoy a glittery nice smelling bath too? Just remember that you’ve no matter what you do or don’t do, you have never failed.