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3 Steps to Take Better Care of Yourself

1. Give yourself permission

There will always be something left to do. If you wait for your to-do list to be empty, you will never get to carving time out for yourself. So give yourself permission to take care of you first. You will have nothing left to give to others if you keep running yourself ragged. You won’t be able to do a good job, you won’t be a patient mom or give your loved ones the presence and attention they deserve if you don’t recharge your own batteries.

You won’t have anything left to give to others if you keep depleting yourself and hold on to the illusion that you’ll catch up on sleep on the weekend, relax on that vacation four months from now, or that you’ll finally do this one thing for yourself you’ve been yearning for right after you complete these other things that seem to be more urgent.

Chances are you tried that and it only kept your self-care at arm’s length. It’s time to focus on you and what you need.

2. Take a moment and pause

When you keep running around in the rat race, the adrenaline will keep you going. It will give you the illusion that you still have energy left, that you don’t yet need to take a break. You won’t be able to notice how your body is doing until you take a moment to sit down and truly relax. Until you wind down, deepen your breathing and connect with your body. In fact, why don’t you do that right now?

Sit back, place your feet firmly on the floor and place a hand on your lower belly. Breathe in towards your hand on your belly—without forcing anything. Hold your breath for a moment, and then exhale. Try to make the exhale longer that the inhale, because that signals to your body it’s safe to relax. Do this for at least ten breaths. Of course, you can extend this to however long you want or feels comfortable.

Allowing yourself and your body to slow down will make it easier to get a sense of how well you are actually doing. How low your battery might be. If you’re honest, part of you probably knows there might be a red light blinking—trying to get your attention. You might be on the verge of a burnout. But it’s been easier to ignore it and keep going.

3. Make one small change

Promise yourself one thing you’ll do different from now on. Pick something that’s doable. There’s no point aiming for something that you won’t be able to fit into your schedule. You’ll only feel bad for not honoring that commitment—so choose something you can commit to. You might even want to select something that’s fun. 😉

This change can be anything. Here are some ideas. Remember to go for something that excites you and feels like an activity you can easily incorporate (or stop doing!).

  • Take the time to sit down to eat your breakfast.
  • Give yourself five minutes to read after lunch.
  • Go for a walk outside once a week.
  • Sign up for that program or class you’ve been wanting to take.
  • Go to bed earlier.
  • Call a friend to spend quality time.
  • Book a massage.
  • Start to learn how to meditate.
  • Give yourself an hour/afternoon/day off.
  • Set intentions for your day and/or visualize how you want it to go.
  • Take a salt bath.
  • Change your diet so it supports you and your energy level better.
  • Exercise more.
  • Say no to something you don’t want to do (anymore).

The list is endless. I highly recommend you start making yourself a priority because you won’t have anything left to give when you’re exhausted and depleted. In order for you to live a happier, healthier life you need to make taking good care of yourself a must. Not something you’ll do when you have time left over. (Which is probably never).

It all starts with you. You are the one that has to decide that you matter. And I believe the world will be a better place when we all take care of ourselves so that we can be happier and have more to give to others as well. When you are feeling good and doing well, everybody wins!

Iris van Ooyen is the author of Radiant: How to Have All the Energy You Need to Live a Life You Love. She is the creator of the SWEET POWERÔ approach to personal and career development, growth, and self-care. An MBA with a background in corporate marketing, Iris combines her extensive business experience with her renowned razor-sharp intuitive insights in order to support thousands of clients in living fuller, healthier lives.

You can find her on Instagram.