Yet, the better you take care of yourself, the better you can care for others.
Taking care of yourself is a habit, perhaps the most important habit you can have. But, unfortunately, we neglect ourselves in many ways. It's a costly mistake. Because when you are not at your optimal best, it's challenging to take care of other people.
1. Take a daily walk. Walking is a great exercise. Most of us spend far too much time sitting each day. Getting up and moving is great for the mind and body. Walking alone can be both meditative and rejuvenating. It gives you a lot of time to think about the person you want to be and the life you want to live. And spending time in nature helps you see the cycles of changes happening all the time around you. I love to listen to self-help audiobooks while on my walk. It's a great way to focus on fresh new ideas and perspectives. It also maximizes my productivity by increasing my daily reading time.
2. Use positive affirmations. Negative self-talk is the norm. Our brain is designed to keep us safe, and unfortunately, that often means dwelling on the negative. It's difficult to ignore our inner critical voice sometimes, especially if it goes on unnoticed. You can change the internal dialogue and give yourself a better perspective on life by using positive affirmations. Prepare affirmations for who you want to be, what you want to do, have, create or express and repeat them to yourself throughout the day. Just make sure they are positive and framed in the present tense. You want to acknowledge and appreciate who you already are right now. I repeat mine when I first wake up and again just before bed. Over time, it makes a world of difference in how I feel about myself and my abilities.
3. Eat healthier. People rely far too much on medicine and not enough on eating healthy whole foods. Unfortunately, we have been programmed to make very little time for food preparation and eating healthy can be a real challenge if you are short on time. That's why I keep my fridge and pantry stocked with only whole foods. I don't bring junk food into my house. If you make yourself leave the house to get junk food, you are less likely to give in to temptation. And, you'll be amazed at how much better you feel mentally and physically when you clean up your diet.
4. Drink water. While eating healthy might be complicated for many people, drinking water shouldn't be. Most of us have easy access to water. Yet, most people do not drink enough water. And, too often, that feeling of hunger is a sign of dehydration. I keep a jar of water on my desk to make sure I drink throughout the day, and staying hydrated has the added benefit of minimizing hunger pangs too.
5. Read each day. Reading is excellent for brain health. It's an opportunity to learn new things and expand the limits of our awareness. Reading as little as 30 minutes a day adds up to 3600 hours over 20 years. That's the equivalent of 90 40-hour workweeks. Research has shown that those that read daily have better cognitive abilities than those that don't. And reading is essential to success. I try to read at least one book every week. Listening to an audiobook on my walks helps me accomplish that goal. It may not be as good as reading a physical book for cognition, though, so do make sure you get some physical reading time as well.
6. Unplug. Your brain needs a rest from the constant stimulation of social media channels, the television, the internet, your smartphone, tablets, video games and other devices. Give yourself a few hours each day of complete rest from these items. We set a timer on our wi-fi box to turn off automatically an hour before bedtime. It makes it easier to respect the time off period and get some reading time before bed.
7. Get sufficient sleep. Many people claim they only need 5 hours of sleep. But science is clear that you need at least seven hours of sleep to maximize your health and cognitive abilities. I personally need at least 8 hours. And having that timer on my wi-fi box set for 9:30 pm helps ensure that I am in bed early enough to get that 8 hours of sleep and still get up early enough for my morning walk.
8. Keep a gratitude journal. It may feel like there's nothing good in your life, but it's likely not true. There are always things for which to be grateful. But sometimes, it helps to start from where you are to really see all there is to appreciate. So, if you don't see too much to be grateful for, start with oxygen, water, and sunshine. If you have a bed, clothes and food, include those in your journal as well. Start with the small stuff. Soon enough, your list will grow. When you chose to focus on things to be grateful for, you will find more things to be thankful for. That's because you always get more of what you choose to focus on. There are many great things in your life. If you do not see it yet, you just need to shift your focus and start paying attention. Keeping a gratitude journal will help you notice the important things in life.
9. Exercise. Our bodies are designed for motion. Often, feelings of overwhelm and other heavy emotions are trapped in our bodies because we don't move enough to release them. Movement is essential to both body and brain health. You don't have to train for the Olympics, but working up a bit of a sweat and bring up your heart rate will help bring about some significant changes in how you look and feel. I like to rev up my morning walk with a short jog or hill training.
10. Meditate. Meditation is a great way to increase your awareness of how your mind operates and choose to shift your focus to the things that matter most. It's also a great time to practice positive affirmations or simply be for a few minutes, rather than constantly doing. I particularly like to practice meditation with movement to release pent-up energy. Sometimes meditation is as simple as pausing throughout your day to simply noticing one breath.
11. Make time for fun. We are naturally playful creatures. Yet, as we get older, we put aside that playful nature in favour of a more serious persona. It might be because we were told to be more serious, stop goofing around or be more responsible as a child. Or maybe we were made fun of for our playful and creative imagination. Whatever the reason, it's important to integrate activities that help you tap into your authentic self and include fun and play. I stumbled upon improv almost 20 years ago, and I never looked back. Though it might seem like we are wasting time, I noticed that the energy created permeates through my whole life. It helps me be less judgemental, more present, creative and spontaneous. It is one habit that I am grateful to have in my life.
Being at your best benefits everyone around you. When you feel good about yourself, you will feel good about your life and the people in it too. That's why self-care habits are so important to develop. And it need not be difficult or time-consuming. Simply instilling these eleven habits will begin to create desired changes in your life that will ripple out to everyone around you.
The alternative is lower self-esteem, self-respect and self-love. And if you are not willing to take care of yourself, it's unlikely anyone else will do it for you. It's hard to receive from others what you are not willing to give to yourself.
Live a life worthy of you because you matter, and the people around you benefit when you are at your best. You deserve the best that life has to offer. So, start treating yourself that way.
We have to take care of ourselves, pause to feel the next breath, and truly live this life to the fullest.
The journey continues every day. That’s why I create these trainings. We have to make the time to reconnect to ourselves and remind ourselves of who we are. We have to live out what we are here to be, do, have, create, express or experience.
It matters. Because you matter.
Live. Love. Laugh.
Because it really does matter.
Ps. If you want to continue the journey with me, sign up to Authentically You! to cultivate the courage and confidence to be your true self and create a life beyond your wildest dreams.
I only offer this opportunity to connect with me and a small group of people twice a year. So click the link below for more details.