Eating our vegetables, getting enough exercise, and avoiding too much sugar are great places to start, but they are only a small fraction of the things we should be doing to keep ourselves well.
Hanging out with animals, talking to strangers, and making time to dance are just as important when it comes to fully nurturing ourselves.
It’s easy to get swept up in our daily routines of work, eat, sleep and focus on the bare minimum, but here is a list of 25 ways to take care of your mind, body, and soul.
1. Make Time to Have Fun
Play time is crucial whether you’re a child or an adult. Motivational speaker, Ron
Culberson, uses this motto: “Do it well, make it fun.” He realized that when he was being
productive and making it fun, the end result was always a significantly better product.
2. Set Aside Time for Yourself
This is probably on every list of “How to Take Better Care of Yourself” and that’s saying
something. Having alone time gives our minds a chance to recharge and take a break.
Whether you take a nap, go for a walk, or curl up with a good book, make sure you have
some quality time with the #1 person in your life.
3. Get Plenty of Sleep
We all know we need sleep to function well, but it’s easy to forget that as adults we
should be getting an average of seven hours of sleep a night at least. It boosts our immune
systems, improves our memory, and has countless other health benefits.
4. Turn Off Your Technology
A decade ago, this may not have been so prevalent on a list like this, but today it’s
difficult for most people to unplug and just be present. In particular, this becomes a problem
when people fail “to leave work at work.” It’s easy to continue answering emails long after the
work day ends in an effort to be our best. Forbes magazine recommends putting your phone
away for the first hour after you get home. Just plug it up in the other room and put it on
vibrate and go do something else.
5. Find a Project
Hobbies are great and can even be therapeutic. Personally, I love to knit and sew, but
the options are limitless. And thanks to Pinterest, suggestions are readily available. My only
advice before visiting your local crafts store? Set a budget for yourself, because it is easy to
get carried away in those places and that would not be taking care of yourself financially.
6. Get Physical!
Olivia Newton-John provided us with great advice, as well as a great jam to work out
to, when she recorded, “Let’s Get Physical.” Being physically active does more than give your
body a work out, it also gets the blood flowing to your brain and improves all over function.
7. Learn One New Thing A Day
I’ve realized that I am more of a student now, than I ever was when I was actually in a
classroom. Learning new things keeps your mind active and helps keep memory function
strong. Check out zidbits.com for answers to a variety of questions, (“does hot water freeze
faster than cold water?”), or try iTunes U for hundreds of different courses from legitimate
colleges and universities like Yale or Oxford.
8. Clean Up At Home
A clean space allows your mind to focus on things other than how big the pile of dirty
dishes in the sink is. The concept is simple and straight-forward: “Unclutter your space and it
will unclutter your mind.”
1. Go Outside
Physical activity is clearly important for a healthy body. But don’t forget to step outside
the gym and soak up that vitamin D, a lack of which can lead to things like depression and
poor nourishment. People in places that don’t get much sunlight during parts of the year, (like
the Netherlands), will buy machines for the home that simulate sunlight. It might be easy to
retreat into nice air-conditioned buildings during the warm summer months, but try to resist
and go outside. (Just remember the sunblock.)
2. Be Selective with Your Food Choices
Let’s be clear – I am not saying that anyone should be “dieting.” Rather, I’m suggesting
to be mindful of meal choices. The easiest option may be to stock up on frozen pizzas and the
fixings for deli sandwiches, but try to switch it up and incorporate different things into your
food choices. Maybe nine meals out of ten, do the responsible thing and choose the healthier
or more nutritious choice, but then the tenth time, go for the burger and fries…you deserve it!
3. Go Out Dancing (Or Just Put On Music At Home and Rock Out)
Dancing is about more than just being physical. In fact, many hospitals have adopted
dance therapy programs because the benefits are so abundant. They include, but are not
limited to: “Reduced feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, and it boosts self-esteem,
body image, coping ability and overall sense of well-being.”
4. Get Exercise In A Group Setting
According to Joe Decker of Active Magazine, there are three straight-forward reasons
to work out in a group: 1. Motivation 2. Accountability 3. Group Camaraderie. And beyond all
of these, it’s just fun and social to work out with friends.
5. Give Yourself 1-Week Challenges
Mentally, we may love patterns and routines, but our bodies like variety. Which is why
at the gym, trainers always encourage you to alternate workouts throughout the week to
activate different muscles and parts of your body. So each week, challenge yourself and make
a game of it! Maybe cut out all sugars or promise to do fifty jumping-jacks a day. Plus, when
you succeed, you’ve got a perfectly good reason to celebrate yourself at the end of the week,
(as if you need an excuse to celebrate how awesome you are).
6. Treat Yourself Occasionally
For instance, after you finish a personal challenge or goal… Seriously, though,
indulgence isn’t always a terrible thing. The happiness we experience from small indulgences
can have multiple health benefits, including releasing happy chemicals, like endorphins, in our
brain and the release of such chemicals can improve bodily functions.
7. Take a Nap
Unfortunately, not everyone benefits from nap taking, because some people function
better without them and a nap can actually slow them down by causing things like sleep
inertia and nighttime sleep problems. However, most people would function significantly better
if they took some time for a nap. In addition to improved cognitive functions, it helps lower
blood pressure, too.
Believe it or not, there is a right and a wrong (or rather, “less right”), way to breathe.
“Breathing from the diaphragm rather than shallow ‘chest breathing,’ promotes a multitude of
health benefits.” By using your diaphragm, your just living up to your full breathing potential,
and once you’ve nailed that, take a few minutes a day to just take a couple slow, deep
Besides being a heart-breaking movie and book, this concept is probably one you’ve
experienced. For me, it always happens at Starbucks. The barista will inform me that the
customer before me bought my coffee, and in response, I will pay for the customer behind
me, and this will usually continue until the line ends. A lot of interesting studies have been
done concerning this charitable concept and the results show that the effects are both positive
2. Talk To A Stranger
I know this sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out – interacting with new people is a
good thing. As a society, we’ve become comfortable with this idea as long as it’s indirectly,
such as through apps like Tinder or Snapchat. Next time you’re getting coffee, try making
small talk with the barista IRL. A journalist for the NY Times did an experiment with
commuters on the subway. He asked half of them to ride like they normally would, by avoiding
eye contact and any interaction with their fellow riders. He told the other half to talk to
whoever sat down next to them. The results? Those who interacted with their new neighbors
were pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed it.
3. Visit an Animal Shelter
More and more places are incorporating shelter animals into their work space and
while they provide therapeutic outlets, the process also helps lead the animals to their forever
homes. Talk about a win-win situation! An office in New Mexico recently had some photos go
viral because of their “cat library,” and colleges all over the country welcome shelter cats and
dogs onto campus during finals, and as a result, stress and anxiety levels among students
has been shown to decrease.
4. Do What Makes You Happy
As long as it’s not harmful to yourself or others, there is no reason to deny yourself the
thing that makes you happy. This concept has no secret benefits or scientific reason behind it,
it’s really as simple as it sounds.
5. Connect With Your Feelings – For Real
Whether you watch a feel good movie and cry it out or you keep a journal, it really
doesn’t matter, so long as you don’t bottle up your emotions. When I was growing up, my
mom had a rule for us before bed. We had to either read or write in a journal for one hour
before going to sleep. Honestly, it was fantastic. It gave me time to focus on me and unwind
before falling asleep and provided me with an opportunity to experience my feelings.
6. Change Your Perspective
According to The Acorn Stash blog, there are 5 ways to change the way you look at
things: “1. Look for the positive in each situation. 2. Allow the improbable to become possible.
3. Change your perspective of other people. 4. Keep an open mind. 5. Avoid falling back into
your old patterns.” Changing our perspective effects everything about us, from how we
approach other people in our lives to how we value and care for ourselves. The blog on
Creativity Post had a fantastic way of putting it: “We see no more than we expect to see.”
7. Take A Vacation
This does not mean you need to book a ten-day trip to Hawaii. Just take a day trip out
of town and go explore. This one goes hand-in-hand with changing your perspective and it’s
much easier to change your view if you change the scenery every once in a while and remind
yourself how big the world is.
8. Stay Positive
The power of positivity is most definitely a real phenomenon and we don’t fully
understand the link between being optimistic and getting those better results. We do,
however, understand that positivity does good things for us. According to The Atlantic,
“’dispositional optimism’… is linked to everything from decreased feelings of loneliness to
increased pain tolerance.”
9. Love Yourself
I’m going to keep this one simple and quote the smartest person I know. “Before you
can truly love anyone or anything else, you have to truly love yourself,” – My Mom.