Here we are just over a month into the new year. How many of you made a resolution to improve your health? How’s that going? I’ve heard from several people they’ve already slipped, haven’t made the progress they hoped, or haven’t even gotten started!
Often we set unreasonable expectations for ourselves. It’s like driving a Fiat and expecting it to act like a Maserati! Instead of being upset you can’t go zero-to-sixty in 5.0 seconds, appreciate that your car gets you where you need to be in a safe and timely manner.
Your Fiat may never operate like a Maserati, but your Fiat can operate at the top of its own performance level! Small changes like using a higher grade fuel and keeping the engine tuned up, maintaining proper tire alignment and good breaks will ensure your little Fiat goes the distance! (You know we’re really talking about your mind and body now, right?)
So, no matter how your vehicle is operating, you can improve its performance by implementing the following self-care habits. You expect a lot out of your ride, give it the proper attention so it can serve you well for years to come!
The Top Ten Self-Care Habits
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! This is one of the simplest yet most overlooked ways to care for your body. Water helps flush the gunk out of your system for optimum performance.
2. Get the proper amount of sleep for your body and lifestyle.
3. Fuel your body with energizing and nourishing foods. I know it’s tempting to grab energy drinks and sugar-laden foods for a quick burst, but for longer-lasting benefit, make healthy choices.
4. Move your body. Not everyone enjoys going to the gym or engaging in regimented exercise, but the good news is that you can benefit from any movement! Take the stairs more often, find parking spaces farther from the door so you take a few more steps, run around the yard with your dogs or kids, ride your bike, break into spontaneous dance when a good song comes on the radio, or simply deep clean your house. It’s not hard to find ways to add more movement to your day!
5. Establish routines, but allow flexibility. When you wake at the same time, eat a healthy breakfast, tend to your hygiene, and go through your day following a routine, it is easier to maintain good habits. Getting into a routine of healthy habits will also allow you to more quickly notice when you’re practicing bad habits, and therefore, you can more quickly correct those. However, don’t let your routine rule you; allow some spontaneity and flexibility–you never know what surprises may await you!
6. Take twenty. I know life is busy, I know we all have myriad demands, but it is imperative that you find at least twenty minutes a day for you! A twenty-four hour day consists of 1440 minutes…setting aside twenty of those is doable. Truly take these twenty minutes to relax; do not squander your twenty minutes…no cell phone, no texting, no television, no computer. These are YOUR minutes to close your eyes, breath deeply, let your mind relax, let your body relax.
7. Set appropriate boundaries. Most of us have a vague knowledge of what we will and will not allow others to do or say to us, as well as knowing what we will and will not allow through our filter. Each time someone or something ruffles our feathers, we assess for how it is upsetting us, try to identify what we are feeling and why, and then determine how to respond. A very time invasive and emotionally draining process. However, by establishing strong personal boundaries, you create a concise set of operating principles. Then when faced with situations and people you find unpleasant, you will quickly identify when a boundary is being breached and deal with it in an appropriate and timely manner.
8. Find joy! Connect with someone uplifting and inspiring in your life. The company we keep is so important not only to our mental health, but also our physical well-being! I don’t know your situation, but I know you probably have some people who are a negative influence in your life (perhaps revisit #7 and deal with those people) and also those who are positive. Make an effort to connect with at least one positive person each day. Like-minded, optimistic, fun-loving and joyful people inspire us!
9. Monitor your thoughts. I like to refer to this as “getting rid of stinkin’ thinkin.” I’m not prescribing rose-colored glasses for everyone, but to simply notice when you’re thinking negative, self-defeating, or critical thoughts. Once you have noticed, ask yourself “is this thought moving me closer to who I am and what I want, or is it moving me away from that?” Next, find a slightly improved thought that is more in the direction you want to move, then think that! You can do this over and over and over until you have moved into a place of much better feeling thoughts and have left the stinkin’ thinkin’ behind.
10. Appreciate your life. Illness, financial strains, relationship issues, job stresses, and a multitude of negative life situations catch our attention. However, regardless your situation, there are things for which you can show appreciation and gratitude. Like #9 above, if you monitor your thoughts and start appreciating the silver-linings, even in situations you deem bad, you will start realizing more of them in your life. You will elevate yourself from a victim to an empowered being. If you’re so inclined, offer prayers of thanksgiving; if not inclined to prayer, then make a list (a written one is best, but even a mental list is a step in the right direction).
Tune up your life by implementing these Top Ten Self-Care Habits and you will be operating in top performance in no time!