- Eat well (and enough). Many busy people skip meals, or eat less than adequate, impacting energy and stress levels. If you don’t eat enough, you won’t have the fuel needed to function and this will place increased stress on your body and impact sleep.
- When sick, take the time to rest and recover. Don’t “work through it,” as it will just take longer for you to get better, raise your stress, and disrupt your sleep.
- Take vacations. Taking time off periodically from work for a week or more is vital for recovering from built-up stress. A couple of hours “chilling” at night and time off on weekends (which you should also do) are important for basic maintenance, but it’s not enough over time to fully manage stress and fatigue. Taking a vacation gets you out of your usual environment (ideally away from your electronic devices) and gives you extended time to rest and refuel, physically and psychologically. It doesn’t have to be extravagant—there are many low-cost options for travel that will work just fine.
- Engage in a hobby. Leisure activities you can do in the evening and/or on weekends are a great way to de-stress and add more enjoyment to your life. Choose the one(s) that appeal to you most.
- Spend time with friends and family (but only the ones you like!). Socializing with people you enjoy can be fun and relaxing. This includes romantic time with your partner, dating or hanging out with friends and family. However, make sure you thoughtfully choose the people you spend time with. If they only increase your stress, then limit your time with them, or even cut them out if it’s a toxic relationship.
- Get a massage or have a spa day. Most people enjoy a good massage or spending time in a spa, but don’t treat themselves. While it can be expensive, there are usually inexpensive options, especially in larger cities. You can also do it as a special reward once or twice a year.
- Make love. Sex is not only vital for a healthy romantic relationship, but also lowers stress. If you are currently not in a relationship, you can self-pleasure and still get stress-reducing benefits.
- If you are suffering from a mental health problem, get help or help yourself. Everyone experiences anxiety or feels sad sometimes. That’s a normal part of life. But if you’re feeling this way most of the time, and having difficulty getting out of bed, interacting with others, working, going to school, or enjoying your life, then it may be something more serious that should be addressed. You can seek out a qualified professional and/or utilize the many excellent books available for overcoming these issues.
Common Objections for Taking Good Care of Yourself:
“I don’t have the time.”
Sound familiar? But ask yourself: “What kind of life do I want? One where I’m working all the time without fun or relaxation? How do I want to feel on a daily, weekly, yearly basis? Stressed out, tired, or even burned out? Or energized, happy, and relaxed? If you want to fully enjoy your life and feel good (physically and emotionally), it is vital to have a balance between work, fun and rest. Listen to your body, mind and emotions to find that “right” balance for you. If you do, I guarantee you will sleep better.
“I have to put others first.”
I hear this frequently in my therapy practice. Valuing the people in your life (your kids, partner, friends, co-workers, parents) and wanting to be there for them and support them is wonderful. However, if you are putting others first (and yourself last) to the point of feeling stressed-out, overwhelmed, chronically tired and maybe even depressed, then you are not giving yourself enough attention.
Here are a few of the many reasons why putting others first at your own expense is unhealthy for you (and the ones you love):
- It builds up resentment towards the other person, which is toxic to relationships.
- You may be imposing your help on someone who doesn’t want or need it. As a result, they may assume you view them as incapable, which they might internalize and start to believe.
- It leaves you unhappy (and possibly depressed) because you are not getting your needs met.
Here are a few of the many reasons why putting yourself first is healthy for you (and the ones you love):
- You will be a great model of self-respect and self-care for people around you.
- You will sleep better, because you will be less stressed and more at peace.
- You will be able to say “no” to others and set proper boundaries, which will allow you to manage your time and energy more effectively.
- You will feel more benevolent towards others.
- You will feel better and be happier.