In The Sober Club I talk all the time about self acceptance, self care and being kind to yourself, I thought it might be good to get another perspective so invited a US guest writer to share their tips: 

If you want to be genuinely healthy and truly happy, self-care is the best thing you can do. Self-care is all about taking some time for yourself and ensuring that you don’t forget about your own needs and even your own dreams if you want them to come true. Although it’s good to do things for other people, it’s just as important to ensure that you are doing things for yourself; otherwise, you will become sick, mentally and physically.

However, although it’s clear that taking some time to engage in self-care is crucial, it’s not always easy. It can feel a lot like being selfish, and that’s not something that sits well with many people. Don’t worry, though; there are some things you can do every day that will help you in your quest for better self-care, but that won’t feel in the least bit selfish; these are not necessarily grand gestures, and you might not even consider them to be self-care at all, to begin with, but the reality is that by doing these few small things, you can make yourself and your life a lot better. Read on to find out more.

Drink Water As Soon As You Get Up

What’s the first drink you reach for when you get out of bed in the morning? Most people will make themselves a cup of coffee or tea, or they might make a smoothie in some cases. However, these drinks take time to make, and during that time, you will be attempting to get your brain and body working well without fueling it in any way. By the time your hot beverage or breakfast smoothie is ready, you will already be at a deficit, and you’ll be fighting all day to catch up.

The best thing you can do is to have a glass of water before you do anything else. It’s even better if you can prepare it the night before and leave it next to your bed, ready to drink as soon as your alarm goes off. If you do this, you’ll feel much more alert, and your organs will start working right away, keeping you healthy. Have your water and then go about your usual daily routine; it’s quite remarkable how much difference just adding that one glass of water can make to your day in terms of how you feel and how healthy you can be.

Make A Gratitude List

You are going to have bad days. Everyone has bad days. It might be a big thing or a small one – or perhaps lots of small ones that all converge to make your day much more challenging than you would ever want it to be. The problem is that, although these days will come and although everyone has them, they can derail everything. They can make you forget any form of self-care, and you might even be irritable or angry with those around you. Perhaps you’ll miss out on some fun or some good opportunities because you’re feeling down about the day you just had.

In order to get around this issue and to practice some self-care at the same time, it’s important to make a gratitude list at the end of every day. Before you go to bed, take five minutes of peace and quiet with an old-fashioned pen and piece of paper (screens this close to bedtime is a bad idea in terms of how well you sleep), and write down at least three things (and ideally five) that you are grateful for and that happened in the last twenty-four hours. This could be anything; perhaps the rain held off, or someone complimented your sweater. Maybe you found a good parking spot, or your lunch tasted great. Anything can go on the list, and it will remind you that although the day may have felt like a bad one, there were still good things within it.

Enjoy Your Job

How can anyone be expected to be happy and to take care of their own emotional and mental health needs when they dislike their job? Having to do things every day that they don’t enjoy or don’t really understand, being with people they don’t get on with, having to commute to a place that doesn’t feel comfortable… all of this and much more can contribute to having a job that someone doesn’t like. Does this feel familiar? Do you wish you didn’t have to go to work every day? Do you waste your weekends worrying about Monday morning?

Life should not be this way. Work might be an inevitable part of what we have to do to survive, but that doesn’t mean you should hate what you do. If you don’t like your job, consider how much time you spend doing it, and then consider your own mental wellbeing. These things are just not compatible.

Although it might seem like a big step and one that would cause a lot of disruption, if you dislike your current job, you must seek out a new one that you enjoy. Life is too short not to, and if you want to really practice self-care, you need to be spending your time doing things that make you happy – the fact that you can earn money at the same time is certainly a benefit.

Spend some time thinking about what it is that you could do that would make you happy. It could be as (relatively) easy as applying for the same job you’re doing now in a different company, one that treats its staff better than you’re being treated. It could be as in-depth as wanting to move up the career ladder and become a more specialized professional. If it is the latter you want, think carefully about what you need to achieve this. For instance, if you are currently a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and now have aspirations of becoming an FNP, you should learn more about the process of achieving this while working. Click here to learn more about this specifically. It might be that there is another specialized field you want to enter. You won’t be able to reach this goal if you don’t first research what it is you need to do to get there.

No matter what it is you do, it needs to be something you enjoy. You don’t have to love every moment, but overall you must like your job if you want to be happy and practice good self-care.

Plan The Week’s Menu

Compared to getting a new job or changing careers entirely, this option might seem very simple – almost too simple – as a means of practicing self-care, but no matter how simple it might be, it works, so it is worth considering; plan your menus for the week ahead.

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is a form of self-care. It’s easy to get into the habit of eating quick, unhealthy snacks, of ordering takeout too often, of eating heavily processed food because it’s quicker and easier, but these things will hurt you in the end. Unhealthy food will affect your weight and your heart, it will cause type II diabetes, it will even make you less productive and alert because your brain isn’t functioning at its best. You’ll sleep poorly, and your skin and hair will suffer.

Changing your diet to ensure you eat well and get enough fruit and vegetables in your diet, as well as changing it, so you’re eating much more fresh food, is vital, but it’s difficult. It’s even more difficult if you have a full-time job or a family to take care of (or both). There just doesn’t seem to be enough time, and if you’re going to eat, you’ll have to throw something into the microwave or heat up already unhealthy leftovers. Surely that’s better than nothing? Iit is better than nothing, but it’s still not good. The best thing you can do is to plan your meals out in advance and ensure you have everything you need to create them. In this way, you’ll never be at a loss as to what to cook, and you’ll have all the ingredients to hand. Choose simple, quick meals with healthy ingredients, and you will find that you don’t spend much more time in the kitchen than you would if you were heating up soup or microwaving a TV dinner. There are plenty of meals that take half an hour or less, and you can find some excellent healthy recipes online.

Even better is if you can cook at least some of these meals in advance and freeze them. That way, when you have had a long, hard day, all you need to do is heat up something you made previously.

Take A New Route To Work

Sometimes the reason you’re feeling a little down or lost in life is that your brain is bored. You might not realize this; it might not be a feeling that makes itself entirely known to you. So you go about your day with a feeling of unhappiness without really understanding why. Of course, in some cases, this could be a symptom of depression, and a doctor’s care is what’s needed. However, in other cases, this is simply your brain crying out for some variety.

One way to achieve this is to take a new route to work. Getting stuck in our ways might be comfortable at first, but in the end, it can be upsetting, even detrimental to your health. If you want to practice some easy self-care, try taking a different route to work, and you should feel different right away. Your brain will be more alert as it processes everything around it, and even if you go back to your old route quickly, the fact that you did something different that didn’t interfere with your day and that you can easily fit in with your routine is important. Keep doing this and other small changes to your routine, and you’ll feel good about things once more.