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New Years resolutions: Kanda Mbenza Ngoma
Kanda Mbenza-Ngoma by Beth Olson Creative.

Kanda Mbenza-Ngoma by Beth Olson Creative.

Well, we made it through thick and thin in 2016. Happy New Year, resilient reader. It has not been easy between losses, political shifts, violence and other intense happenings. It’s easy to feel a little lost and doubting of oneself.

In a world where we can’t control much of what is happening around us, we can resolve to be kind to ourselves and others. We’ve broken this down into seven simple self-love resolutions to help you ring in the New Year with positivity, love and intention-setting.

1. Use Positive Language

A lot of how we feel about ourselves and the world around us is reflected in language. When we are in bad places emotionally, it can be transferred through language when we interact with others.

You have every right to feel everything that you do and communicate that. However, we must be conscious of what we are putting back out there. Be a safe person. If you are upset about something, communicate that through positive language, and either offer a resolution or ask for help forming one. Putting complaints out without an attempt to resolve the issue does not allow space to improve.

2. Instead of Dieting, Just Eat Better Food

Don’t put pressure on yourself to diet if you are not actually going to do it. By doing so, you’re setting yourself up for failure and self-loathing, often for the Nth year in a row.

Related: Dear Virgie: I Got Triggered Back Into Diet Culture. How do I Get Out of This?

Instead, give yourself a break with a realistic goal: eat better food. Does fast food make you feel like shit but you’ve got the cash to get something that may have more nutrients? Go to the taqueria instead, or take the time to build a salad with veggies you love. Resolve to pack more of your own lunches if that won’t bog you down.

Think about how foods make you feel, rather than the caloric content.

3. Don’t Like The Gym and Stigma of Exercise? Focus on Movement.

It’s okay to hate “exercising” and going to the gym. Sitting around with a bunch of folks who are judging your body and their own sucks, and unless you’re in a super well-curated space, these environments can really suck for folks with bigger bodies.

Find a spot with like-minded folks or take a group of friends to go dancing. Try something like gentle yoga in a body-inclusive space, free pilates in the park, take a hike in nature or pick up a jump rope and learn how to double-dutch once again with a group of friends. If you walk and drive, it could be as simple as parking your car further away from the entrance for a slightly longer stroll.

4. Allow For Mistakes, But Resolve To Create Action Plans

Don’t beat yourself up when you mess up. Whether it’s diet, sobriety, a slip in grades, a project at work that was not perfect or (nearly) anything else — you’re going to mess up sometimes, and you have to be emotionally prepared for how to deal with disappointment.

You have to allow space to not be successful 100 percent of the time, so create a “Plan B” in case it does not work out. If neither of those courses of action work (and sometimes they won’t!), assess what went wrong. What worked? What did not work? What could be better? Write a list.

5. Listen To More Music

This may sound like a strange one, but music has healing properties. Music therapy has shown to be effective in treating depression. Given that One in four adults suffers from from a mental illness and only 40 percent of them receive treatment (and the number increases and lessens, respectively, when looking at oppressed communities), we have to take “medicine” where and how we can get it.

Folk musician Pete Seeger once said, “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender,” regarding his guitar; it apparently also “killed fascists,” which we are totally here for. He was right. Music breaks down barriers, either with the outside world or the walls in place around our damaged hearts. Music therapy has shown to be an effective tool in aiding in the social functioning of schizophrenics, and helps treat the effects of chronic pain, anxiety and general depression by reducing heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels.

Check out this song, which has been engineered to reduce anxiety and stress. Read about it here. (Writer’s note: It really does work. It took me out of a massive panic attack last night without the aid of my meds.)

6. Set Aside Time for Self-Expression

Setting aside time to express yourself is so important. Whether it’s journaling, making a piece of visual art, writing a piece of music, dancing, cooking or curating your living space by gardening or hanging art — it’s all a form of self-expression.

Related: 13 New Year’s Plans Actually Worth Making

Choose a two-hour block each week to create something. It doesn’t matter if it’s “good,” it just matters that you are taking the time to create.

7. Create Time and Space for Platonic Love

We focus so much on finding the right partner or partners, but we rarely give that same space for love and affection within friendships. Resolve to create space for deep platonic love in 2017.

What might this look like? Listen to your friends. No — really listen to them. Don’t just wait for a chance to speak. Listen to them and ask questions about what they are saying.

If there is emotional space for physical contact, ask to hold hands. Sit beside one another instead of across the room. Hug, if your friendship and possible mutual traumas allow space for it. It’s important to ask consent and not assume that it’s okay to touch folks, but do not be afraid to ask for it and do not be hurt if you do not receive it.

Take your friend out on a friend date. Dote on them the way you would dote on a lover and put the same energy into platonic love the way you would romantic love. Build those relationships and strengthen the foundation, as they may truly be the ones carrying you into your elder years.


Laurel Dickman is an intersectional feminist, plus size model, stylist, and fat activist that can also be found via her blogs, Exile In Dietville and 2 Broke Bitches. She grew up in the south between Florida and North Carolina, migrating to the Portland, OR in 2005. All three places inform her perspective of the world around her a great deal. While in Portland, she worked with the Alley 33 Annual Fashion Show, PudgePDX, PDX Fatshion, Plumplandia, and numerous other projects over the near decade that she was there. In August of 2014, she moved to the Bay area with her partner, David and trusty kitty, Dorian Gray. She continues her body positive and intersectional feminism through various forms of activism, fashion, photography projects, and writing from her home in the East Bay. She can be reached at laurel@wyvmag.com and encourages readers to reach out to her to collaborate!

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