Giving too much to others without caring for ourselves first can cause us to become bitter, overwhelmed and eventually unhealthy. You are important too. Your body is your temple and without it you don’t have a vehicle with which to give at all. Replenish yourself with these 12 easy steps, which are simple suggestions you can apply every single day to promote health, happiness and overall well-being.
Get some rest
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep is becoming an epidemic, with 30 percent of adults getting less than six hours of sleep each night. The amount of sleep that is currently recommended is between seven and eight hours. Instead of drowning yourself with coffee and stressing out your adrenal glands, get more rest. This will help your immune system and balance stress hormones. Adequate rest will also help you to naturally maintain overall energy throughout the day.
Eat your greens
One of the most beneficial ways you can begin to take care of yourself today is to nourish your body. Give it what it needs to take care of you, so you can take care of life. Particularly if you are a very busy person, it is essential to shield your body with proper nutrition. Most Americans are lacking fiber in their diets, along with other vital nutrients including calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E. Although fiber-rich, nutrient-dense foods are less popular than high-fat, heavily processed foods, they are like little nurses that provide you with exactly what your body needs to be healthy. Prevent deficiencies and diseases by increasing the variety of foods you eat — and don’t forget the fruits and veggies.
We often underestimate the power of stress. Stress hormones can send your whole body off track, triggering chronic illness if ignored. Relax! Recognize that you can’t control everything. Release those things that you can’t do anything about, work on the things you can. Stressing about it will only hurt you. Also, realize that nothing is permanent. The only constant in life is change. Change is hard, but once you accept that it is inevitable, you will begin to appreciate every little moment that much more. Water is soft and flowing, unlike the hard rock, and yet the water moves easily past the rock, gradually eroding its surface. Don’t be like the rock that is worn away by the tides of change. Instead, flow like the water with ease and acceptance. In other words, don’t take life so seriously. It’s too short and so precious. When life throws you for a loop, accept it and don’t let it stop you from enjoying the ride.
Get some fresh air
Sometimes all we need is a break from the four walls that enclose us day in and day out. Go for a walk in the mornings. Enjoy your lunch outside. Unwind after work sitting outdoors as you enjoy some chamomile tea and watch the sun set. Take some days off to go camping or go to the beach. We weren’t meant to be enclosed for the majority of our lives. We are natural creatures and need fresh oxygen and sunlight to survive. It’s not an accident that the best and most efficient way to get vitamin D is to spend 15 minutes in the sunlight. Lack of sunlight and outdoor activity can also trigger seasonal depression even during off seasons. So take care of yourself and treat yourself to the beauty and majesty of the great outdoors.
Take a breather
Life can get really hectic. Often we are tasked with an overwhelming amount of chores and work duties. When we finally have time to rest, we are still tense. If you feel your thoughts whirling and your heart racing, even though nothing is going on around you and you should be at a resting heart rate, you probably have some degree of adrenal fatigue. Stop this train of thought as soon as you realize that you are in this chaotic state of mind. Take a few deep breaths and hold them for a second before slowly releasing. Close your eyes for a bit and just listen to everything around you. Now focus on your breath. Anything that connects you to this moment will prevent your mind from stressing out your body. Just breathe. It’ll be okay.
Move your body
With work and home responsibilities, we often have very little time for exercise. You might feel too exhausted to even consider exercising. A simple 15 to 30 minute workout each day can give you more energy, prolong your life, prevent disease and enable your body to do more with the time you have. So if anything, by taking care of yourself and honoring your body, you are becoming more able to do the things in life that need to be done and to achieve whatever it is you hope for. If you feel like your to-do list and your obligations to others come before your health, you should really think of it the other way around. Without your health, you are unable to do much of anything for yourself or anyone else.
Listen to music
Have you ever felt down in the dumps and then a song you love comes on the radio? Did you suddenly feel that problem wasn’t so difficult anymore? Music is a powerful tool to help keep you in the right state of mind. Plants respond to music, our pets respond to music, and our mind responds to both the frequency and pleasantness of sound. Musical therapy is now used to treat people with depression and anxiety disorders. If you are feeling sluggish or down, just pop in your favorite track and enjoy the moment. If you find yourself not wanting to do house chores, turn up the music and dance as you work. It’s good for your mental health and it’s also good for the soul.
We tend to underestimate our ability to smile and laugh. How often do you laugh each day? If you’re like many overstressed, overworked people, then you probably don’t laugh enough. Take a little time out of your day to laugh. Laughter can actually help you fight off infections and illnesses because your body works better when it isn’t under stress. Your immune system is affected by physical and emotional stress. So watch a short funny video on YouTube, surround yourself with good people whenever you can, and smile with gratitude at the opportunity to enjoy another day.
The modern world is highly connected to the Internet in a variety of ways. We do almost everything online or with some form of computer technology. Our dependence on machines makes life easier, but it can also make it more stressful. Sometimes it’s best to take a break from “the matrix” and enjoy the simpler things in life. It’s relaxing to just read a book or go out for an evening, sip some tea in silence or sit and talk with friends and family. Unplugging every now and then is not only good for your state of mind, it’s also good for balancing your cortisol levels, which can affect various organs. It can also bring you closer to the ones you love. Meeting family and friends in person and on the phone is much more intimate than conversing via text. And what about some alone time? When you are constantly checking Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, your mind never slows down so you can relax and enjoy your own company. Honor yourself and your space by shutting down the computer and putting down the phone for a while.
One way to relieve stress and become reacquainted with yourself is to partake in creative activities that bring you joy. Draw, paint, finger paint, color, take photos, sing, dance, sculpt, or start an arts and crafts or do-it-yourself project. The creative process is immensely satisfying. It leaves you feeling you’ve accomplished something while also giving you the opportunity to express yourself in a way that is unique to you. It’s therapeutic and fulfilling to work on something without the pressures associated with work projects. If you have anything bottled up inside of you, this is a wonderful opportunity to let it out so that it doesn’t clog up your life.
Give to yourself
Taking time to create something just for you is one way to give to yourself. With the demands of work, life, family and friends, it can sometimes be easy to forget to save a little time and energy for yourself. Treat yourself every now and then to a frozen yogurt or a relaxing day at a spa. Notice when you aren’t taking care of yourself. Feed yourself with the healthiest, most nourishing ingredients. Love your body and remind yourself daily of things you love about yourself. Don’t talk down to yourself. No one can ever succeed at being more like you than you can. You are a rare gem, so treat yourself like one. Do things you enjoy every day, regardless of how small. Sometimes it’s the little things that keep us going. Blow some bubbles or take a walk. Watch your favorite television show for half an hour. Pop in a movie on a Friday night. Take a bubble bath. Make a healthy, whole-food pizza. You give to everyone else throughout the day. Do something just for you.
Work toward your goals
As busy as we are each day, it is important to not lose sight of what you are doing and why you are doing it. What do you really want to achieve? Are your actions holding you back, or are they steps to get you there? The best way to honor yourself in the long run is to keep on track towards your self-designated life purpose. If you want to go back to college, if you want to own the home of your dreams, if you want to send your kids to the best schools, if you want optimal health, then you have to work toward it. As important as it is to continue with basic tasks to get by, there is much more to life than paying the bills. Spend some time each week working toward your future and build the life of your dreams.
Taking care of yourself might seem selfish, but without your health and well-being, you are in less of a position to help others. You are worthy of self-love and self-care. In order to accomplish anything in today’s society, you must depend on and trust yourself. No one can do it for you, you must live your own life. It all starts with a choice. You don’t have to start with the big life goals. Start by changing your daily habits and self-talk. These habits will become the woven threads that form the fabric of your life. Make it a beautiful tapestry.
—The Alternative Daily