I know I’ve said it before, but life can be really busy and demanding. If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed.
Living a fast-paced life, or simply having a lot on your plate can mean your needs get neglected. And without nurturing yourself, you end up operating from an empty tank.
It’s just not realistic to expect yourself to keep giving or functioning optimally from a place of exhaustion and overwhelm.
Feeling ready to institute some healthier habits that’ll increase your energy, boost your mood and nurture your soul? Here are 19 ways to take better care of yourself.
First take care of the basics
Without giving your body the basics, it’s difficult to function well and perform optimally. You’ll get much better results from more advanced self care practices when your basic needs are met. I won’t spend the whole blog covering these well-known topics, but here’s a short nod to some self-care fundamentals:
Eat Properly: This generally means eating enough fruit, vegetables and healthy proteins. Part of eating properly is eating regularly, not skipping meals, and avoiding fast foods.
There are many diet fads that come and go. If you’re interested in a particular diet or trend, it’s best to approach a qualified professional for advice. Nothing beats a plan that’s tailored to your specific body and health needs.
Drink enough water: According to the Mayo Clinic, enough water is 15.5. cups of fluids per day for men, and 11.5 cups for women. (This will vary if you live in a hot climate, have a health condition or illness, or are exercising.) Fresh fruit and veggies also contain water and electrolytes which help prevent dehydration.
Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation is a well-known form of torture! Give your body the sleep it needs to heal, repair, dream, and be refreshed.
Exercise: Physical activity is necessary for health and vitality. You don’t even need to join a gym or workout class. Just 20 minutes a day of moderate exercise will fulfill your exercise requirements! This can be in the form of washing the car, going for a walk, dancing or cleaning your house!
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s visit other self-care ideas that will help you take care of yourself better.
Create a meal plan and start meal prepping
Since a basic need is to eat (and eat well), we need to incorporate healthy meals on a regular basis. Meal planning and prepping is an extremely useful habit to achieve this goal.
Instead of having to resort to unhealthy takeouts, you’ll have plenty of prepared meals ready to grab. First decide on what type of meal plan you’d like to follow and dedicate a day to meal prep.
It’ll help you stick to food that truly nourishes you. No more need to skip meals or settle for options outside your preferences.
Develop healthy ways of dealing with stress
How you choose to release stress is a personal one. I recently wrote about stress and how to stress less (you can read about it here).
The first step is to really understand what stress is: a physical reaction to perceived danger. Stress doesn’t have to be something we live with and carry around with us! Feeling and being stressed is a way of living out of reaction. It affects our lives when we don’t have the necessary skills to master our minds.
Some ways to release stress include:
developing mindfulness and emotional maturity
cultivating a simple, meaningful lifestyle
prioritizing health, and
having a healthy outlet for stress (this could be a hobby, physical exercise, chatting to a close friend, or spending time in nature.)
Spend time with people you love
This is such an important part of taking care of yourself. As human beings, we are wired to connect. Having meaningful connections and interactions should be seen as a priority.
Make time to spend with your family and friends. This could mean organizing a barbeque or a fun day out at the beach. It could also be meeting for lunch or chatting on the phone. Do it consistently, and when you’re with them, try to avoid distractions. Enjoy the experiences and conversations, and give of yourself too.
So often life’s demands lead us to neglect the people closest to us. Neglecting these connections leads us to suffer in many needless ways. Nurturing close relationships is always worthwhile.
Schedule some time for yourself
As much as it’s important to be with loved ones, so is dedicating regular time to being alone.
I like to spend time alone in the mornings before getting ready for work and before my family is awake. You could take some minutes for yourself in the evening or at any time of the day you won’t be disturbed.
Don’t work during this time, but do something you really love and that feeds you. You could read, have a bath, or walk in your garden. You could also just do nothing and simply breathe.
Time spent alone does wonders for mental health and feelings of wellness. It’s a perfect time to practice experiencing and appreciating this very present moment. Don’t allow any thoughts of feelings of the past or future to intrude. Just be.
Set boundaries that allow you to take care of yourself.
Being able to say ‘no’ is an important skill to learn. It can be hard, but it’s so valuable! Establishing boundaries helps you create a life where you’re not constantly overextended and overwhelmed.
Spend some time thinking about things that drain you or force you to compromise yourself. Understand your limits so you know where to set that boundary mark.
Give yourself permission to honor these boundaries. By practicing mindfulness and self-awareness, you’ll be able to recognize boundary breaches and respond appropriately.
Be firm, but kind; straightforward and clear. And remember that it’s up to you to take care of yourself properly. That’s how we teach other people how to treat us.
Look into minimalism and simple living
In my experience, a minimalist lifestyle focuses on:
simplifying your life (habits, possessions, etc.)
freeing yourself from the need for ‘things’
developing personal life goals based on what you feel is meaningful
creating a meaningful life filled with purpose
making time for experiences
appreciating simple things
Developing a simple living approach to life allows you to truly take care of yourself. And you can do so in ways that really matter and actually work.
When you move away from trying to be satisfied and fulfilled by external things, you can truly nourish your entire being. I love to write about minimalism and slow living. You can find more about an intentional lifestyle here.
Take care of yourself with personal self-care
Here I’m specifically talking about indulging in some pampering every now and then. Our bodies work hard for us, and it’s important to help our bodies feel good.
It’s not hard or expensive to incorporate physical self-care throughout the week or at a dedicated time.
Consider things like taking a long shower or dry brushing your entire body. Give your hair a special blow dry or put it up in your favorite style. Lather on a face mask while you listen to some music. Give yourself a pedicure or do your nails. Slow down and enjoy the process.
Whatever you find makes you feel relaxed, beautiful, and special is worth spending a little time on.
Establish a morning routine
What you do in the morning has the potential to make or break your day. Setting up a relaxing morning routine will help you start the day feeling good and with a positive mindset.
Enjoy some time to yourself by waking up early. Create mindful rituals like making tea or journaling to practice mastering the mind. Eat a healthy breakfast. Do some exercise. Make your bed.
Structure your morning so that you step out the door feeling fresh, alive and aligned.
Prioritize self development
By nurturing personal growth, we develop emotional maturity, insight and self mastery. These valuable life skills are tools we can wield to create a life of meaning and fulfillment. We become more and more capable of taking proper care of our bodies, minds and souls.
Self-help audiobooks make it so easy to learn and develop as you go about your day. You could read books on personal development as part of your morning or evening routine.
Fill your mind with the teachings of gurus and sages, or poetry and quality literature. Elevate your thoughts above the mundane. Discover and develop yourself. You will become more resilient, more focused, and more capable.
Keep your space clear and clutter free
Decluttering my home made an incredible difference to my life. Living with clutter, spending time constantly cleaning and trying to organize a house full of things was exhausting. It stole my time, my creativity, and my peace.
Having experienced the positive effects of a decluttered house has made me a firm supporter of minimalism!
Don’t worry, I don’t mean throw out everything you hold dear. It might be time to do something though if clutter is stealing your joy.
Start out with a single room or even a problem area like an entryway or bookshelf.
The goal of decluttering is simple. Keep what you love and what you actually use, and free yourself from the rest.
Make decluttering a regular task to avoid clutter creep and keep your home clear and inviting. As you get rid of unwanted, forgotten about, broken, unnecessary items, you’ll welcome in light, clarity and freedom! This is truly a great way to take care of yourself.
Ask for help
Are you in the habit of suffering in silence instead of asking for help? Trying to shoulder things alone can be damaging to health and also unnecessary. Sometimes just speaking up can make us realise we are not truly alone!
Try to look for ways you’re carrying burdens too heavy for you. Is there someone you can speak to about it? Are there other arrangements that can be made that will work better for you?
Getting a cleaning company to do your housework once in a while can make a huge difference to your workload. Ask a colleague for advice on a project. Talk to a friend about something that’s weighing heavily on your heart. Get financial advice if you’re struggling with your finances. Think about delegating tasks.
There is often no need to suffer alone. We do need to speak up though, and then, often, help is easy to be found.
Listen to your body
Modern life with all its busyness can lead us to being completely disconnected from our bodies.
Tune in to your body and what it’s carrying and experiencing. Notice if you’re feeling hungry, tired or stiff.
Give your body what it needs! Take a break. Eat something. Stretch.
Look after your body so it can look after you.
Take care of your health
Don’t neglect your personal health. Go for a yearly medical checkup. Take care of your dental health. Speak to a therapist.
Do you take your car for a regular service so it doesn’t break down? Do at least the same for yourself.
The outdoors: fresh air and beautiful scenery. Feed your soul, clear your mind, and let your creativity flourish. Being outside is so good for your entire being. Work in your garden or amble about in a park. Take a hike, visit the beach, ride your bike.
Enjoy the sky, the sun, the birds, and the breeze (or wind!). Nature is wonderful medicine for the soul.
Nurture beauty in your surroundings
Minister to your senses with experiences or things you find beautiful. Beauty lifts our spirits!
What you find beautiful will be personal, but some ideas are:
Lighting candles in the evening for a soft glow
Using incense or essential oils for beautiful scents
Using beautiful music to elevate your mood, feel inspired or feel relaxed
Wrapping yourself in a warm blanket when you read or meditate
Keeping beautiful plants and flowers in your home
Beauty is for all the senses. Feed your senses in this wholesome way and you will feel very well looked after.
Unplug from social media and the internet
I love social media for keeping in touch with friends and family. But we’re all aware of the pitfalls of spending too much time online. Depression, anxiety, constantly comparing yourself, feeling unworthy, feeling stressed, irritated – the list goes on.
Sometimes it’s necessary to just unplug and detox from social media. Take care of your mental health by knowing when it’s time to take a break. (Here and here are some tips to help you know it might be time for a digital detox and how to do it.)
Have a change of scenery
Following the same routine day in and day out for months? A change of scenery could be just the thing! Take a drive out to a neighbouring town. Visit a friend. Discover a park you’ve never been to before.
You could even take a cooking class or a dance class! Maybe try a different route to work. Routine can be great, but sometimes we need a little adventure.
Do something out of the ordinary once in a while to give your mind a break and an infusion of excitement and discovery.
Look after your financial health
A major source of stress for many people, financial health is worth nurturing. Face any financial problems head on and get help and advice sooner rather than later.
Developing a budget and savings plan is a sensible way to avoid financial stress. I’ve written some tips on minimalist money management here.
Prioritizing financial wellness will lead to many rewards to all areas of your life. It’s another great way to really take care of yourself.