21 Small Ways To take Better Care Of Yourself
No, it's not a complete list. It's just everything I can think of today that I do, or try to do, or know I'd like to do but am not always in the habit of doing. It's not a do-everything-or-you've-failed situation either. The idea is to pick 1-5 things to try that sound easy and fun. They are not in order of 'importance', but some may stick out to you as more important for your specific lifestyle and current situation. One of the best ways to start a fresh habit is to call up a friend and keep each other accountable/inspired. But it can also be very gratifying to do it on your own and inspire your partner or your neighbor with your self-care glow. :)
As you read each list item, take careful note of what comes up for you...are you resisting certain things and making excuses for that resistance? Try your best to approach those things with curiosity and patience, no matter what your past experience has taught you.
1. Drink a mason jar of water in the morning, before anything else.
Start the day right! Give yourself a head start on hydration (which gets harder and harder to remember through the day--especially if you're focused on less physical activities like office work). Add some lemon/lime wedges, cucumber slices, mint, or a splash each of apple cider vinegar and honey to improve the taste and help your body detoxify.
Filtered water is great, but if your tap water is decent, that's fine too--no use breaking the bank.
2. Add a big salad to your diet.
You don't have to change EVERYTHING about your diet to live a little healthier. Trying to cut processed stuff/junk food/meat/sugar/alcohol is really f**king hard if it's not what you're used to. So don't worry about cutting. Just add a (preferably giant, but I'll take what I can get) salad to at least one of your meals every day, and even if you had Twinkies for breakfast, you will benefit from the extra nutrients/antioxidants. After a week of this, you might notice that your body looks forward to it and your cravings for Twinkies might wane significantly. Keep it plant based (no fried chicken and cheese 'salads')--focus on the leafy greens & veggies. Pick a dressing you LOVE or make your own--you probably already have what you need. Here are 50 recipes. :)
3. Eat more groceries.
Groceries are CHEAPER and it's easier to know exactly what you're eating. You don't have to go on an organic shopping spree at whole foods, but you can just as easily make simple meals at home on a budget without filling up on the extra fat, salt and preservatives found in restaurant food. Taking an extra 10 minutes to cook some stuff in a pan and another 10 to clean up the mess saves you money and saves the earth from takeout waste. If cooking isn't your strong suit, the grocery store has easy 1 step salads, snacks, and deli items made daily in store for cheaper than your average counter service restaurant and with more wholesome ingredients. If you're interested in cooking but intimidated by it, spend a few minutes on Youtube looking up easy versions of your favorite dishes.
4. Switch to low acid coffee & water down your juice
High acidity drinks like soda, fruit juice and coffee can cause heartburn, upset your stomach, and interrupt regular digestion. Try a low acid coffee, maybe with unsweetened plant-based milk and cut your fruit juice with still or sparkling water for a more hydrating experience. And on that note...
5. Give up or cut back on soda.
This one is hard--because most people who drink soda are addicted to it. It's FULL of refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and often weird dyes and acidic chemicals that aren't doing your body any favors. Try cutting back the size and number of your daily soda intake if cold turkey sounds terrible. There are a lot of new low-sugar sparkling drinks nowadays too if that's your jam. It's tough at first, but you can definitely get to a place where you don't even crave the stuff anymore.
6. Try tongue scraping.
It's an easy, 1 minute thing you can do in the morning that improves your oral health and immunity. https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/tongue-scraping
7. Move & stretch & massage your body.
Reach for the sky straight out of bed. Do some basic stretches while you watch TV. Gently roll your neck and shoulders on breaks from work. Get a golf ball and roll it under your foot. Do 10 minutes of yoga a few times/week. Use your fingertips to massage your neck/jaw/shoulders/calves. The effects of a little daily body care are calming and rejuvenating and get your blood flowing where it's needed. Looking for stress/pain relief? Look no further. *Yoga For Beginners *Full Body Stretch For Beginners *Self Massage For Relaxation/Pain Relief
8. Get Outside.
Make an excuse to pause and take in the world around you. Take a walk once a week or more. Check out the clouds and the stars. Try a hike. Walk or bike instead of driving. Play in the snow. Take off your shoes in the sand. Or just sit on the patio at brunch. :) We need fresh air and sun on our face. We need to be in nature when we can. It relieves stress and provides clarity from the everyday grind.
9. Read more books than daily news.
News cycles are designed to fill 24 hours of network time. News is often tiny tidbits of half-truths blown out of proportion for the sake of clickbait and ad revenue. Most books are exhaustively researched and held accountable to their citations, not thrown together to satisfy the fears and worries of the masses. Don't waste your whole day trying to keep up with newsflashes and in-the-moment articles. Read and watch content that truly interests you and understand the ways that clickbait media and unchecked 'facts' hijack your brain in our sensationalist mass media culture.
10. Find quiet time, if just for 5 minutes/day.
When you quiet your mind through the highly imperfect process of meditation, prayer, or just gentle meandering contemplation, you let go of stress in the moment and prime yourself to handle what ever mentally arduous things come your way later on. Meditation helps with self acceptance. Meditation often leads to answers and inspiration. A daily practice of quite time will help you see what's really important and let go of what isn't. And there's really no wrong way to do it. Try a guided one on the Insight App or Youtube. Put on some wordless calming music. Lie down or sit. Walk or Run. Just get in a quiet headspace for 1-2% of your day and watch what happens.
11. Get some house plants.
There are so many low maintenance plants out there. House plants increase the oxygen in your home and can help purify the air and help you sleep. Do a little googling to find out what's best for you, and don't be discouraged if they don't seem 'happy' at first. Plants are very resilient. https://balconygardenweb.com/best-houseplants-for-beginners/
12. Finish your shower with cold.
I always get so much backlash on this one, but it works. It triggers a wave of fresh oxygenated blood throughout the body and is phenomenal for your immune system. Wait until you're comfortably warm in a hot shower and then switch to cold for a minute or two at the end. It's brave, invigorating, and you'll feel great toweling off.
13. Wait 1-2 hours to eat in the morning, and stop eating at least 2 hours before bed.
Intermittent fasting popularized this little trick, and you don't have to be hard on yourself if it doesn't work out every day, but limiting your 'eating window' during the day and avoiding eating close to (or in the middle of) sleeping helps your body prioritize the rest it needs and helps all your bodily processes in the long run. It's a way to make less work for your digestive system and often helps with weight loss.
14. Practice Gratitude
'Gratitude' isn't just for new age spiritualists and Instagram hashtags. It is scientifically proven to help your mental well being by expanding your outlook. Name 5 things you're grateful for out loud during your morning routine, or write them down before you even get out of bed, or with your morning Joe. Watch this for assistance.
15. Limit your time on social media, and take extra care to spread optimism and kindness while engaging in all social media platforms.
I'm still working on this one, always, but when I manage to be a little more conscious about it, the results are obvious and delightful. I'm less stressed out. I'm not as locked in comparative/worthiness mindset and more focused on the tasks and people who truly fulfill me. I keep the first hour of the morning to myself and try to limit social media time to a couple of specific hours during the day. I use Do Not Disturb or airplane mode while I drive (it's so hard) and prioritize that quiet time like the happiness of my day depends on it. We are not meant to stare at screens all day. We're meant to do all kinds of stuff, so try to keep your tasks diverse, especially if your work requires constant screen use.
16. Hang out with kids when you can, and do something nice for your inner child once in a while.
...kind of a no brainer if you have kids already, but if you don't, spend some time with the ones you know. Volunteer to babysit. It's good to get the more innocent and creative perspective of a kid when adult life is stressing you out. ALSO, you were a kid once, and that kid loved all sorts of things. What were they? I know my inner child is happy when I'm reading novels, playing badminton, watching cooking shows, or skating. Why not let your inner kid enjoy themselves a little more?
17. Take a lot of deep breaths.
A single, intentional deep breath can relax unnecessary tension, clear your mind, and help you focus. Breath work of varying degrees can have wide physical, mental, and even spiritual effects. Buddhists have been counting and speaking to breath in meditation for centuries. I personally have used a deep breath to stay grounded at work, in auditions, on the road, in anxious social situations and uncomfortable talks, in learning environments, and as a sleep aid. Man, breathing is dope.
18. Focus on what you like about yourself.
The world is full of judgment and insecurity and unfair assumptions. Your every day vibe doesn't have to reflect the world's lack of appreciation and imagination. There are probably more things you like about yourself than you even realize, and it's not selfish or rude to focus on those things more than your perceived 'flaws' or things that suck out all your self confidence. So next time you look in the mirror, instead of pinching your love handles and critiquing all the things you wish you could change, get excited about your freckles, your ever improving biceps, or the way your new moisturizer makes your skin smell. Tell your body you're grateful for its many parts and processes and all they ways it is totally unique.
19. Write inspired notes to yourself.
Pick a quote that makes you smile or feel brave, write it on a sticky note, and put it somewhere you'll look at it every day. Write notes to yourself in your phone or on your computer desktop. We need reminders of our worth, our goals, and the power inside our heart.
20. Create a before-sleep routine
Turn off screens and charge your devices out of the bedroom. Take the time to get clean. Read or journal a little. Write a prep list for the following day and let it go. Put on some relaxing audio and breathe with calm intention. Give your body permission to de-stress and heal up for a great day tomorrow.
21. Find more reasons to laugh than to get offended.
It is perfectly fine to not find something as funny as the next guy. Every joke usually has a target, and when you sympathize with the target personally, it's hard not to feel, well, targeted. But 9/10 times, jokes are made with the intention to bring relief and joy, not suffering. When we're looking for things to call out as offensive, we're often missing the point of the laughter in the first place. Laughter brings us together and releases endorphins to help us cope with stress and move the f*ck on. Find what makes you laugh and infuse laughter when you can into your day, and don't spend nearly as much time calling out so-called offenders or getting outraged by the latest media tirade against a soundbite of a comedic moment.
Happy Self Improving!