Sometimes we live for decades without truly understanding how to love and care for ourselves. Somehow even the smartest and most nurturing of people don’t know how to tend to our own personal needs and desires. It’s just too easy to become immersed in the day-to-day stresses of reality – issues of money, work, kids, and general well-being can consume us.

Caring for yourself does not have to take tremendous energy or time. After all, when we remember to take a few personal minutes, eat healthy meals, and get enough sleep, we can better handle anything life has to throw at us.

Here, then, are a few of the ways to help you be your best self.

Step out in the sunlight. Sunshine can help lift a funk in more ways than one. When our eyes make contact with the bright light of the great outdoors, the pineal gland in the brain kicks in to issue serotonin, a hormone that can lift our spirits on the darkest days. A bit of sunshine each day also ensures that we absorb the essential vitamin D, which produces a great deal of health benefits.

Treat yourself to a massage – or a good book. Spend time doing only what you want to do. If that means staying in bed with Jane Eyre, do it. If that means shelling out the cash for a 50 minute massage, by all means, make the effort. If all you need is an hour of me-time to feel completely rejuvenated, make sure you get it. If it means indulging in a mindless television, such as the Bravo network, allow yourself the space in your schedule.

Talk about yourself. Often when we’ve been spending all of our time figuring out how to take care of others, we forget what we want. Find someone to talk to – about yourself. By doing so, you’ll be able to get a better grasp on what you need right now and how to get it. Call someone who cares about you and isn’t prone to being negative or making judgments. If you are having trouble finding a trusting and non-judgmental person, consider finding a therapist that can help you nurture you.

Indulge in healthy treats. The last thing you need in these stressful times is a bunch of sugar and processed foods. Pack a few healthy snacks on your way to work – think apples and peanut butter, carrot sticks, yogurt drinks, and roasted cashews – and steer clear of any vending machines. Whatever you do, don’t forget to eat. If you wait until the last moment to grab some much-needed calories, you may end up scarfing down a box of cake rolls and feeling even more stressed out. Lighten up. Replaying your bad day in your head, over and over, is only going to make you feel worse. Chuckle at how you tripped on your way up the stairs at work in front of the cute new accountant. Instead of taking it personally, roll your eyes at how your mother thinks you’re conducting your life all wrong. Distance yourself a bit from all the problems of your life, and you may find that many of them aren’t as bad as you thought.

Cuddle up with your favorite pet. Even if you feel pretty good, petting your cat or dog can make you feel more relaxed. Studies have shown that spending a little time with a beloved pet, or merely pondering the way your goldfish meander about their tank, can lower blood pressure.

Remember that, no matter how many people rely on you for love and care, you deserve the peace of mind and rejuvenation that comes with taking care of yourself. For more information on how counseling can help you improve your home life, contact the professionals at the Family Guidance & Therapy Center by calling 619-600-0683.

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