You don’t need to completely revamp your life in order to improve your well-being. Adding just a few of these self-care practices into your days can make a big difference.
By Judy Koutsky
If you’re looking for more ways to become healthier and happier, you’ve come to the right place. That’s the beauty of regular self care. But you’d be defeating the purpose if you stress out trying to fit personal rituals into your life. But the good news is, you don’t need to resort to grand gestures (think: taking an entire weekend for a silent retreat in the woods) just to feel better. Of course, if you have the time and desire to do such things, go for it! But you can achieve plenty of great mind-body benefits by making tiny adjustments to your everyday schedule. To start, consider some of these.
Avoid Negative People
Want to make a difficult situation even tougher on yourself? Surround yourself with negative people. “While trying to keep a positive attitude, you must avoid people who thrive on negativity.” says Fran Walfish, Psy.D., a family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Care Aware Parent. Negative people can bring you down regardless of your situation.
Instead, seek out positive people, and you may soon adapt their “can do” spirit – positive attitudes can spread just like negative ones.
Pay It Forward
When you’re overwhelmed, doing something kind for someone else is likely the last thing you feel like doing. But it’s exactly what you should do, says Walfish. “Being generous in words and actions creates positive feelings for the doer and gets endorphins flowing,” she says. In turn, this can help you see positive ways to deal with your own difficult situation. Plus, if karma has its way, someone will be doing something nice for you soon enough. Again, your kind gesture needn’t be a large one: Even holding the door for someone at the grocery store or praising your child for finishing all of his vegetables can be enough to make you feel better.
Realize Failures Are Inevitable
Everyone makes mistakes, and everybody experiences failure, that’s a fact. Realizing this and knowing that missteps are a way to help us learn and grow is essential to becoming more resilient. “People who internalize failure and see it as a statement about how good or smart they are, are less likely to take risks or try new things,” says Rebecca Zucker, career and executive coach, and partner at Next Step Partners, a leadership development firm. “It’s impossible to take risks, try new things, and make decisions with imperfect information.” Know that failures and mistakes are not inevitable, and taking risks also means there’s a chance for great success.
Make Taking Care of Yourself Non-Negotiable
OK, we know we’ve said this before, but it’s advice that’s worth repeating! “Taking seriously good care of yourself is crucial to your happiness,” Walfish points out. “This includes what you eat, drink, and think, how often you move your body, and how much you rest.” For example, if you’re constantly tired and cranky from being sleep-deprived, you’re less able to make the best decision when confronted with a difficult situation. But if you’re in good physical and mental health, obstacles may not seem insurmountable.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
All of us have a different path, so trying to match yours to another’s is just setting yourself up for defeat. Instead, focus on you own strengths and successes like that amazing meal you made for your family last night, the business meeting you just crushed, or the fact that you just ran four miles without stopping for the first time ever. And remember: Everyone faces challenges that they need to overcome, even if you don’t know about them. Know that whatever hurdles or obstacles you’re facing will make you stronger and better than you were before – no matter how much it might hurt right now, says Keisha Blair, parenting and career coach, and cofounder of Aspire-Canada.
Spend More Time Doing and Less Time Brooding
The more you do, the more you’ll be able to do. So sign up for that photography class you’ve always wanted to take, call a friend to meet for coffee, or pick up that knitting project you abandoned six months ago. “When you spend more time on the sidelines than playing the field of life, it gets increasingly harder to attempt the things you care about,” says career coach Carlota Zimmerman. If you’re more used to waiting or doubting, than doing, then even the smallest cut feels like a knife through the heart. “Do more, worry less, or as the expression goes, ‘break your heart, find your spine,’” Zimmerman adds.
Change Your View
Next time something threatens to stress you out, try to take a step back and view things from an outside perspective rather than panicking about what this may mean for your future, encourages Walfish. If this same situation were happening to a friend, what would you advise her to do? “Being an observer keeps you in a calm, slightly detached place, which helps you become more solution-oriented,” Walfish explains.
Focus on Self-Love to Heal Old Wounds
“The more you link taking care of yourself and doing things you enjoy to loving yourself, the more you’ll see that love grow, and the more you’ll find it showing up,” says Kristi Ling, author of Operation Happiness. “Whenever you do what you love to do or take good care of yourself, make a habit of tuning in to feel in your bones how much you deserve this loving treatment. Allow those feelings to grow and be present within you.”
Journal or Meditate
An essential step to taking proper care of yourself is to find healthy outlets for your anxiety and tension. “Great examples of dealing with stress in a positive way include journaling, meditation, mindfulness activities (such as yoga, hiking and biking), or simply spending time with friends and family,” says A.J. Marsdn, Ph.D., an assistant professor of human services and psychology at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida. Having an outlet for negative feelings can help you see things more clearly and gain a more positive perspective.