Taking care of yourself can feel like a really big task, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Learn to manage your physical, mental, and emotional health so that you can enjoy your day-to-day life more and reduce the risk of various health problems later down the road. From getting adequate sleep to setting healthy boundaries, you’ll be pleased by how quickly you notice a difference in your quality of life when you start making your health a priority.
Tending to Your Mental and Emotional Health
Take time to check in with yourself every day. If you like journaling or keeping lists, spend a few minutes at the end of each day reflecting over what went well, how you felt, and anything that was upsetting. If you aren’t a fan of writing things down, take a couple of minutes to sit quietly and think about your day. Ask yourself these types of questions:
- What made me happiest today?
- What are the positives in my life?
- What am I putting off or procrastinating?
- If I had time, what would I like to be doing?
- Is there negativity I can remove from my life?
Incorporate more joy into your life to increase your sense of well-being. Instead of focusing on the things you don’t have, choose to focus on what you do have. Commit to finding the good in every day; you could even try keeping a “joy list” where you write down things that happen during the day that make you joyful.
- Take time to do things that bring you joy, too, like listening to music, dancing, cooking, reading, or going to a yoga class. Make these things a priority so your week is infused with joy-giving activities.
- Similarly, taking time to laugh every day can boost your emotional health. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh or try watching a funny movie or stand-up comedian to give yourself some much-needed laughter-therapy.
Set boundaries for your time and space so you can take care of yourself. A boundary can be between you and another person, or it can be set up to protect your time so you can take care of yourself. Here are some common ways you can set up healthy boundaries in your life:
- Manage work stress by checking your email twice a day rather than getting a constant influx of notifications.
- Turn off your phone when you’re with loved ones so you aren’t distracted from what’s happening in the present.
- Distance yourself from someone who is emotionally needy and who takes advantage of you.
- Tell friends to text or call before they come over rather than just popping in.
Learn to say “no” so you don’t overcommit your time. When someone asks you to do something, take a minute to check in with your gut and your calendar to see if it’s a reasonable thing for you to agree to. If it isn’t, say something like, “Thanks for asking, but I’m going to have to pass this time,” or “I wish I could, but the next couple of weeks are really busy for me.”
- A great question to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide if you should commit to something is, “If I say ‘yes’ to this opportunity, what am I saying ‘no’ to?”
Reduce the amount of stress in your life so you can enjoy things more. If you are stressed out all the time, it can affect your physical, mental, and emotional health. To reduce stress, try doing something physical, like exercising or getting a massage. You can also try meditating, removing yourself from stressful situations, or working on your time management.
- For example, if you are often stressed because you tend to run late, set an alarm for 10 minutes before you need to leave home.
- You may not always be able to get yourself out of stressful situations, so focus on the things you can control. For instance, you may not be able to just quit a stressful job, but you can set up boundaries so that your job doesn’t encroach on your time.
Connect with friends regularly to build a strong support network. Relationships are super important to your mental and emotional health, so don’t neglect your friends even when your life is busy. Reach out to others, ask them to talk on the phone or meet up, and take turns sharing, listening, and having fun together.
- If you’re struggling to see your friends because of your schedule, text or call them to let them know you’re thinking about them and want to connect. Maybe you could schedule an early-morning breakfast date before work or even run errands or do homework together.
Challenge yourself to learn something new to keep your brain happy. An engaged and challenged mind is going to be a lot healthier than one that is bored. Pick up a new hobby, learn a new language, travel someplace you’ve never been before, take a class at your local community college, join a gym, or do something else that you’ve always been curious about.
- The internet is a great resource for learning new things. You can find blogs, videos, websites, and books that can teach you about almost anything you’d want to learn.
- If you start learning something new and find it isn’t for you, that’s okay! Don’t force yourself to continue. Let it go and choose something new to focus on.
Talk to yourself in a kind way to encourage a positive outlook. Pay attention to what that little voice in your head is saying to you—chances are it might not be great! Self-doubt, insecurity, and even self-hate are common things that everyone deals with from time to time. Identify the things you are saying to yourself and about yourself, and replace those statements with positive affirmations.
- For example, if you often find yourself thinking, “I’m stupid, there’s no way I can do this,” try reframing that thought into something like, “It’s okay that this is hard, and I can do hard things.”
- If you tell yourself bad things about your body or personality, try instead to focus on the things about yourself that you love or want to love. For example, instead of saying, “I’m so fat and ugly,” say, “My body is capable of wonderful things. I’m grateful to it.”
- It can take a long time to stop talking about yourself negatively, so be patient with yourself. Incremental baby steps will eventually add up to a big change in your life.
Unplug from your electronics to lower stress and practice mindfulness. Being constantly connected to others can be a blessing and a curse, and sometimes it’s healthy to disconnect, ground yourself, and connect with the world around you. Try instituting an “unplug” day or period where you turn off your phone, shut off your television, and close your laptop. Your mind will start to relax and you may even find that things that seemed overwhelming before are much more manageable than you thought.
- You could even try out a “mini unplug” where you turn off your phone every evening an hour before bed and don’t turn it on again until an hour after you’ve woken up in the morning.
Seek professional help if your health is interfering with your life. Maybe you need to ask a friend or family member for help, or maybe you need to see a professional for help with anxiety or depression. There is no shame in admitting you need help—remember that you are doing your best, and everyone needs help sometimes.
- Asking for help can be as simple as asking someone to help you with finishing a work project, buying groceries, or watching your child so you can have some alone time.
- If your emotional and mental health is making it hard for you to do your work, get out of bed, or enjoy things you used to, call a professional to schedule an appointment to get the kind of help you need.
Focusing on Your Physical Health
Exercise 4-5 times a week to keep your body strong. If you don’t already, add in several 30-minute workouts to your weekly routine. Do something you enjoy, like walking, jogging, biking, weight lifting, swimming, or playing some kind of group sport. Your body will feel better, and the endorphins will boost your emotional health, too.
- If you struggle with fitting in exercise, try scheduling it into your calendar so it is set in stone. Treat it like you would a doctor’s appointment or an important meeting.
Stay hydrated by drinking 8-10 glasses of water every day. Water does wonders for your body! Drink enough water every day to help your organs run more efficiently, make your skin look better, and keep you energized and alert.
- Try drinking a glass of water every morning when you first wake up to get your daily routine started.
Make getting enough sleep a priority so your body is running at its best. If you’re a teen, try to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night; if you’re older than 18, aim for 7-9 hours of sleep. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day to get your body into a routine.
- Try setting an alarm for 30 minutes before you want to be in bed. When the alarm goes off, turn off your electronics and start your bedtime routine so your mind and body can begin to wind down.
- Keeping your room dark and cool can help you get a better night’s sleep.
Take time to rest when your body is feeling worn down. It’s common to feel a lot of pressure to push through and be productive, even when your body is telling you to slow down. When you notice that you’re feeling worn down, be intentional about taking some extra time to rest, whether that’s canceling plans for the evening to lounge at home or scheduling a day for “no plans” in your calendar.
- If you push yourself when your body is telling you it needs rest, you risk lowering your immune system and making yourself sick. Plus, a tired body and mind won’t be as productive as one that is well-rested.
Practice good hygiene so you look and feel better about yourself. Having good hygiene habits can help prevent health problems later down the road. Try to incorporate these different types of hygiene into your daily routine:
- Dental hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss once a day, and visit your dentist for a checkup once a year.
- Physical hygiene: Shower or take a bath every 1-2 days and wear deodorant every day.
- Hand hygiene: Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, touch something dirty, and before and after you handle food.
Indulge in special self-care routines to pamper yourself. Hair masks, face masks, manicures, pedicures, relaxing baths, spa days, massages, and other similar activities are wonderful ways you can give your mind and body a little extra TLC. You can book an appointment with a professional, or enjoy doing things yourself at home.
- Try doing something special for yourself once a week so it’s something you can always look forward to.
Avoid unhealthy habits, like smoking and binge drinking, so you feel better. If there is a bad habit that you’d like to quit, start by making a list of the reasons why you want to stop doing that activity. Pick one habit at a time to work on, and try replacing the bad habit with something good for you.
- For example, instead of going outside for a smoke break, take those 5-10 minutes to take a brisk walk instead. Or, start adding in a glass of water between every drink you have to slow down your alcohol consumption.
- If you have an addiction, talk to a professional to get some concrete steps to help break the cycle.
Value your body by eating a healthy diet. Instead of viewing foods as “good” or “bad,” focus on eating things that you know make your body feel better. In general, eat more fruits, vegetables, protein, and calcium to help your body run better. If you have allergies or dietary restrictions, take those seriously.
- If you struggle with eating what you want to eat, try making a meal plan for a week at a time. Write out what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and then go grocery shopping so you have everything you need.
- Remember that there is nothing wrong with having a treat, whether that’s a big, juicy burger or a delicious piece of chocolate cake. Just remember to balance the treats with healthy options so your body doesn’t start to feel sluggish.