In honor of LifeOhm’s 50th post, I am giving you, my amazing readers, a free printable download to help you remember to nurture yourself. Click here to download the free printable and go on to read more about the 50 Ways to Nurture Yourself.
The Importance of Nurturing Yourself
At one time or another, we all feel stressed or pressured by our busy schedules. During busy times, especially, it is so important to nurture ourselves. As the flight attendants wisely point out, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help others. The same thing goes for caring for yourself: if you don’t take the time to nurture and care for yourself before helping others, you will quickly become fatigued and end up having less to give.
“If you feel ‘burnout’ setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” ~ Dalai Lama
When you take the time to nurture and care for yourself, it’s easier to have a happy, upbeat mindset. You feel better about your life in general and it’s easier to get through challenging work tasks. This in turn allows you to have more to give to family and loved ones.
If you’re like me, it’s easy to feel like taking time for yourself is being selfish or that there’s just not enough time. But those perceptions aren’t accurate. Taking time for self care actually helps you to be more productive, and less likely to burn out and crash.
Making Time for Self Care
I have started taking a few minutes on Sundays to schedule some time to take care of myself in the upcoming week – whether it’s a yoga class, a few hours working on fun and creative projects at a coffee shop, a date night with my husband, a massage, or just a relaxing lunch. The act of scheduling this time makes me feel more in control of my schedule and less stressed about all the meetings and activities on my calendar.
Nurturing yourself doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming, it just needs to be a priority.
Here are 50 ideas to get you started:
2. Snuggle or pet your cat or dog: Petting an animal has been shown to reduce our heart rate and brings about warm feelings of love and comfort. Spending time with your pet is a great way to lower stress levels and increase happiness, plus your pet will be happier too!
3. Reconnect with nature: Spend some time outdoors, walking, hiking, or just sitting and observing the birds, trees and insects from a park bench. Reconnecting with nature is good for our souls and helps us feel more connected to the world.
4. Exercise: Make time to go to the gym, a workout class, or do some jumping jacks in your office. You’ll feel better, have more energy, and you’re caring for your health at the same time.
“Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners” ~ William Shakespeare
5. Plan or take staycation or vacation: Whether it’s a day off doing what you want to do or a wonderful getaway vacation, schedule time to take a break from your day-to-day routine.
6. Take a break from technology: Turn off those cell phones, iPads, and laptops and just be. Spend time alone and enjoy the quiet or spend the time really connecting and communicating with the people you care about, in person.
7. Get a manicure or pedicure: Getting a manicure or pedicure is not only relaxing and enjoyable, but you will be reminded about the experience every time you see your beautifully polished fingers or toes. Take a friend and enjoy.
8. Practice yoga: Yoga is very restorative for both the mind and body and it’s something you can practice anywhere. Take a class or try an online program such as MyYogaOnline.
9. Nurture your health: Do something that is good for you and maybe that you’ve been avoiding. Schedule that doctor or dentist’s appointment. Even if it’s not fun, you’ll know that you’re caring for yourself and making your health and wellness a priority.
10. Make time and do something you’ve always wanted to do. For me it is finishing my master’s degree. I started it years ago but was working too many hours to continue and have always regretted not finishing. It makes for a long day on Wednesdays and extra time reading and studying, but I am so proud and thankful that I’m doing it.
11. Makeover your mornings: Mornings don’t have to be rushed and hectic. Plan ahead and do as much as you can the night before, or get up a little bit earlier so you have some quiet time to yourself before the day begins. There are a lot of benefits to waking up early, even if you’re not a morning person.
12. Schedule “you time”: Block out time to read a novel, soak in a hot bubble bath, go to a movie, or anything that you love to do. Put it on the calendar right now and keep that appointment.
“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” ~ Steve Maraboli
13. Visualize: Sit quietly and visualize how you want things to be and how you want things to feel. This has been one of my most effective tools in creating a life that nurtures my soul. Once you have a clear vision of what you want, it’s easier to achieve.
14. Change one thing to improve your diet: Whether it’s eating more vegetables, making green juice or smoothies in the morning, eating more superfoods, or cutting back on refined flour and sugar, make one positive change in your diet. It’s empowering and once the change becomes a habit, you see results and it’s easier to make other changes. Also read: Let Your Food Be Your Medicine.
15. Sit and relax for 15 minutes: Pick a comfortable chair and just sit and relax for 15 minutes. Ignore your cell phone, TV, and computer and sit and just “be”.
16. Meditate or pray: A short 10 minute meditation or moment of silence can reinvigorate you for the entire day.
17. Get a massage: Getting a massage is one of the most nurturing things you can do for yourself. A recent study shows that even 10 minutes of massage helps reduce inflammation. A massage also soothes aches and pains, reduces anxiety and depression, improves sleep, boosts immunity, raises alertness, helps reduce headaches, and removes toxins from the body.
18. Take a nap: Sleep is one of the most rejuvenating things we can do for ourselves and a 15-minute nap is sometimes all it takes. Allow yourself to take a luxurious nap.
19. Hug someone, ask for a hug: A good hug produces oxytocin, the hormone responsible for interpersonal bonding and attachment and it is immediately calming, even for pets. One man who understands the value of hugs, Juan Mann, founded the Free Hugs Campaign and Video with a sole mission to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives.
20. Listen to music you enjoy: Music is good for the soul and listening to our favorite musical artists can provide an instant boost. Keep your favorite playlist on hand for when you need a quick pick-me-up.
21. Sing: Singing can be a great stress reliever and a great way to take your mind off things. Whether it’s in your car, in the shower, or in public, allow yourself to just sing for 15 minutes.
“Find what makes your heart sing and make your own music.” ~Mac Anderson
22. Call a friend or family member: Reconnecting with someone we care about is very nurturing to our soul. I have a friend that I’ve known since junior high school. When we talk on the phone, we have an instant connection and are able to giggle about things, just like when we were in junior high school. It’s important to have those kind of people in our lives, they help us reconnect to who we really are and talking to them provides a great escape from the day.
23. Practice being present: When you are having a hectic day or feel stressed and overwhelmed, slow down and just allow yourself to be present. Observe your surroundings, your breath, and how you are feeling. Just observe and allow yourself to “be”. If you need some inspiration for being present, check out Eckhart Tolle and a summary of his work at Finding Your Life Purpose in the Now.
24. Smile at a stranger and send them positive thoughts peace and joy: Smiles are contagious and so is wishing others peace and joy.
25. Play: What did you love doing as a child? Rollerskating, riding your bicycle, jumping rope, or coloring? Rediscovering those activities can help reduce stress, bring more joy and meaning into your life, and make you feel younger and more vibrant. In the book, Play, it has also been shown to help shape the brain, open imagination, and invigorate the soul.
26. Make a list of your accomplishments: Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come in our lives. Start an Applause File with thank you notes and comments you receive that you can reference when you need a boost. You can also make a list of your accomplishments to have as an uplifting reference. I like to do this at the end of each year but doing it more often would be even better. Start by making a list of 25 accomplishments from the past year and keep building on it. If you need to, look back at your calendar for significant events, accomplishments, family vacations, or thoughtful gestures you made just to name a few.
“Allow yourself to enjoy each happy moment in your life.” ~ Steve Marble
27. Visualize Your Ideal Future: If you are frustrated with your current situation, take a few minutes to visualize your ideal future. What would it look like? How would you feel? What people would be there, or maybe not be there? One you have a good picture in your mind, write it down or create a vision board with what you see. Keep your vision where you can see it often.
28. Make a to-do list, prioritize: Sometimes just getting all the things out of our head and onto a piece of paper in a nice orderly list can be nurturing and stress relieving. Once you have your list, don’t try to do everything at once. Identify the three most important things and focus your efforts there to start.
29. Practice saying affirmations or mantras: Most successful people have used affirmations or mantras at some point in their life. They help us change the talk in our heads from negative and doubting to confident and loving. Adding just a few affirmations to your daily routine can create a dramatic shift in your life and your mindset. Make a list of five affirmations and keep them with you, post them on your mirror or on your computer. Read them often and begin to transform your mindset. Two great lists of affirmations are 80 Mantras for the Elegant Lady and 100 Positive Affirmations to Carry You Through Life. Do you have a favorite affirmation or mantra? Please share it with me in the comments below.
“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” ~Deborah Day
30. Read an uplifting book or magazine: Reading can be a great way to take your mind off things and experience a brief escape from the day-to-day world. What is your favorite uplifting book or magazine? Or maybe it’s a blog?
31. Create an inpirational board on Pinterest: I love Pinterest and how easy it is to create a vision board for inspiration. Here are a few of my online boards: Inspired to Travel, Inspired to Relax, and Inspirational Quotes. Also read Using Pinterest to Create the Ultimate Vision Board.
32. Bake cookies and give them away: Baking or cooking in the kitchen can be both fun and relaxing. If you enjoy baking, making food for others can be very rewarding. You could bake some cookies and take them to work, give them to a friend, or take them to a local homeless shelter or police station with an uplifting note.
33. Do a craft or something creative: Tapping into your creativity is great for the mind and the soul. According to author Julia Cameron, “Intellectualism is a primary block for many creative people.” Allowing yourself to work on creative projects or crafts helps increase the creativity in other areas of your life too. Need some inspiration? Stop by a craft store, Google holiday craft ideas, look on Pinterest, visit a craft fair, or keep it simple and just doodle with some bright pens on a piece of white paper. Allow yourself to be creative and expressive.
34. Buy art supplies and create a piece of art: Get yourself some watercolor paint, colored pens or pencils, chalk, or oil paints and some paper or canvas and allow yourself to create your own artwork.
35. Declutter and bless others: Having too much stuff or clutter in our environment is stressful and draining. Take care of yourself by creating a calm, clean environment. Take 15 minutes each day to declutter an area in your home and take your items to a local charity. You will not only get a tax deduction, but you are blessing others with the items you no longer need. That dress or suit you have in the back of the closet and never wear may be the perfect dress or suit for someone’s big event. Decluttering our homes and work environments is very freeing Let go of items that no longer serve you. Also read: How to Finally Eliminate Clutter From Your Life.
36. Make a list of short and long-term goals: Having both short and long-term goals and plans contributes to our overall happiness by creating a general sense of purpose and excitement about the future. Make a list of five short-term and five long-term goals. What are the most important things for you to do today? This Week? This Month? What about within the next five years? Ten years? Write down your ideas and start taking steps to achieve those goals. Taking action and seeing progress toward our goals is very invigorating.
“If you nurture your mind, body, and spirit, your time will expand. You will gain a new perspective that will allow you to accomplish much more.” ~Brian Koslow
37. Have your own Burning Bowl Ceremony: Make a list of all the things you dislike about your current life situation that you want to leave behind. Write them on small slips of paper. On a second list, write what you want to replace your dislikes with and keep this list. When you’re finished, burn the small slips of paper, either in your fireplace, around a campfire, or in your backyard fire pit. The ceremony is a symbolic removal of the negative things in your life and can be very uplifting. Read more about the Burning Bowl Ceremony.
38. Have a nurturing weekend or getaway: Whether its by yourself or with your spouse, plan a weekend getaway to someplace special. While you are there, relax and enjoy a room-service breakfast in bed, a nice soak in a hot tub, be a tourist and see some new sights, or just spend some time in quiet reflection.
39. Write thank you notes: Sending a thank you note to someone might make their day and is also a reminder about the importance of gratitude in our lives.
40. Create a gratitude journal: People who regularly practice gratitude are happier and more content with their lives. Writing in a gratitude journal is something I taught my own daughter at a very early age. We used to spend time together relaxing on Sunday evenings and would write in our gratitude journals. Sometimes we would trade journals and write a note to each other about the things we were grateful for. I still have our journals and they are fun to look back on plus we started a good practice we still use today.
41. Watch a funny movie: Watching movies that make us laugh is not only fun, but it’s good for our health. One study showed that laughter decreases our blood pressure and removes stress and tension. This benefit is not only immediate but the affects last for up to 45 minutes.
42. Buy flowers: This is great and inexpensive way to nurture ourselves, brighten up our homes, and can be very low cost. I love to keep fresh flowers on our kitchen table and buy them locally at our farmer’s market.
43. Do something you love by yourself: In The Artist’s Way at Work, the author’s talk about the importance of taking “time outs” during your week. These time outs are one to two hour breaks in your week where you do something FUN by yourself. Go to the museum, a movie, out for coffee, or whatever you enjoy doing and do it by yourself. It’s a nice break and you will feel more refreshed and renewed.
44. Go to lunch with a friend: This always cheers me up. I have a few friends that I go to lunch with every couple of months and getting together is so much fun. Set a time to meet a friend for lunch, dinner, or a coffee break.
45. Have a special date night with your spouse or significant other: Planning and scheduling a special night out with your spouse can be a great way to reconnect, relax, and have fun. Need some ideas, check out The Dating Divas for lots of great and low-cost ideas for fun and creative dates.
46. Spend time around water: As a Pisces, this one is big for me. I absolutely love being near the water. Whenever I need a serious boost, I spend a weekend at the Oregon Coast. Standing in front of the ocean puts me in awe of the magnificence of the world and puts things back in perspective for me. Where is your favorite body of water? Schedule a visit and spend some time there to reconnect with nature and help yourself feel renewed.
47. Establish a wonderful tea ritual: As we’re entering fall and winter, establishing a wonderful tea ritual is especially soothing. Start by gathering a variety of your favorite teas, honey, milk, or your other favorite additions. Also find a luxurious tea cup or tea set. I have actually created a mini “tea station” in my kitchen so everything is in one place. Once you have everything you need, set a regular time for making and enjoying your favorite cup of tea. Savoring a cup of tea is a great way to slow down for a few minutes, relax, and feel soothed by this wonderful beverage.
48. Get a new hairstyle or makeover: Sometimes changing our appearance can make us feel refreshed and can help change our outlook. If you’re ready for a change, consider getting a new hairstyle or a make0ver.
49. Write or read poetry: Writing is a wonderful way to express ourselves. Whether it’s in a private journal or creating a novel, spend some time writing for fun. In the book, The Artist’s Way at Work, Julia Cameron talks about one writing exercise called “Morning Pages.” For morning pages, write three pages about anything you’d like first thing in the morning. Cameron suggests writing long hand and allowing your thoughts to free flow. Over time, many who practice morning pages feel increased creativity, new ideas, and a more relaxed state of mind.
50. Dance or stretch to music: Dancing or stressing to music helps us relax, feel joy, and can be great exercise. Turn on your favorite music and do whatever feels right to you, dance, sing, stretch or just move.