I am My 2020 To-Do List

5…4…3…2…1… Happy New Year!!!!

People begin to give hugs, kiss each other, cheers their beverages, bang pots and pans, and some spend the rest of the night dancing away. AND THEN….the question arises…‘So what is your New Year’s Resolution?’


Oh, I am going to eat SUPER HEALTHY.

Who me? I am so going to hit the gym ERRRRY day.

I neeeed sleeeeep. I am going to go to sleep early and wake up early!

Ya know what? This is THE year I am going to quit smoking.

Pshhh… I am going to party way less in 2020.

Wait, I have the best New Year’s resolution, I am going to floss every day!!!

For the next 365, I will be spending more time with family & friends.

I am going to travel to as many countries as I can.

Hmm, I think I am taking up a new hobby…TikTok postin!

Why do we choose these types of New Year resolutions? And what do they have in common? These resolutions are decorative ways for us to hold ourselves accountable to make self-care a priority. Self-care is one of the most valuable things we can do for ourselves and it is often the thing we neglect the most. But why? And what happens when we do not take care of ourselves? Well, let me tell you….

Slowing down, focusing on self-care, and giving myself time to recharge is a skill deficit for me. I often over schedule myself, do not drink enough water, replace water with highly caffeinated beverages, restrict food during the day due to a busy schedule, binge when I get home, and very rarely exercise. So when I became super sick with a cold this past holiday season I was already at a disadvantage and emotionally vulnerable.

I did not go to the doctors but rather decided to go to CVS and pick up some medicine to help alleviate my headache, sore throat, cough, and difficulty sleeping. I took the medicine for about 3 solid days. I thought to myself, ‘That is plenty of time for the medicine to work.’

Boy was that not a wise mind decision. To start the day I woke up at 11 am to 3 missed calls from my sister. I barely got any sleep the night before because despite taking medicine I forced myself to binge watch YOU season 2, although goal accomplished I felt depleted. I called my sister back and she reminded us we had plans to go over my parents’ house. I called her back and I was cranky as anything screeching like a parrot, ‘OMG WHATTTTT I don’t feel good, I am too tired, I am not going!’, and hung up on her abruptly. Immediately I had a wave of guilt flood me and I decided to quickly throw myself together, and go over my parents. On the way, I stopped for a large energy drink and slugged it back. Oh Crap! I totally forgot to take my medication. Oh well, too late, I am not turning around. I entered my parent’s house and immediately my dad said, ‘Oh sleeping beauty decided to make an appearance.’ Despite feeling guilty, I responded impulsively, ‘You are lucky I even came!.’ My mother ran up to me and tried to give me a hug and kiss and I pushed her away and said, ‘Get Off! Does it look like I want to be touched.’ She responded with, ‘ Ugh, I can’t do anything right!’ and went back to preparing lunch. My siblings and I sat at the table and then my phone began to chime with email after email, I thought to myself…people just leave me alone!! My identified mood… frustration. My mom then puts lunch on the table. I thought to myself, of course, it is all meat items, doesn’t she remember I haven’t eaten meat for over a year! Judgments and even more frustrations apply. I fill my plate with what little food I can and then the comments begin…’ What are you on another diet or something?’ I lose it. I am now yelling at everyone and judging myself. I AM NOT regulated, I AM HIGHLY reactive, and now saying hurtful things to my family members. I am extremely unpleasant to be around and feel like everyone now hates me, more judgments and guilt now arise. I get up from my seat at the table and sit on the front porch in the cold. I am trying to make sense of my behavior. And then it hits me. I turn on my DBT therapist brain and identify …I am in Emotion Mind and have totally avoided all of my skills!!!

Dialectical Behavior Therapy taught me that focusing on my self-care is necessary, not selfish. The emotion regulation skills module specifically focuses on the area of self-care to reduce emotional vulnerabilities. The ABC PLEASE skills help keep us less vulnerable to having negative emotions, and less likely to get into a state of Emotion Mind, where emotions control our thoughts and actions.

A – Accumulate positive emotions by doing pleasant things.

B – Build mastery by doing something difficult yet possible, planning for success, not failure. A sense of accomplishment.

C – Cope Ahead by rehearsing a plan ahead of time so that you are prepared to cope skillfully.

PL – Treat PhysicaL Illness and take medications as prescribed.

E – Balance Eating to avoid mood swings and get daily nutrients.

A – Avoid mood-Altering substances and have mood control.

S – Sleep so you can recharge & enjoy your life.

E – Exercise to maintain high spirits and release endorphins

These DBT Emotion Regulation skills are things that affect our physical and mental well-being throughout the day. When we do not apply our ABC PLEASE skills daily we tend to become more emotionally dysregulated with the intensity and duration of an emotion lasting longer than justified, we are more reactive, we are more sensitive to events. Ultimately leaving us more vulnerable to and less able to handle situations and interactions within our wise mind. What could have been a very pleasurable experience with my family, I turned into a chaotic event.

So, next time you are thinking about skipping a meal, bailing on that spin class, or canceling plans with your family remember these are all ways to focus on your self-care and make you feel all the happy feels. You are a priority and you are worth the time and commitment!

‘Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place.’- Unknown


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