As we grow older we tend to focus on looking after others. We want to care for and protect our loved ones and see them grow and develop positively.
How many of us also focus on ourselves and ensure that we protect our own emotional, mental and physical health?
"Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul."
How Can We Ensure That We Nurture Ourselves?
We all know that if we eat and drink well we will lead healthier lifestyles.
However there are so many ways to improve our mental and physical health, not just by eating well but also by making small but important changes to our daily life.
1. Wake up early
Waking up at the eleventh hour and rushing around induces stress, it may be a way of cramming in extra sleep but it's one of the worst ways to starting your day.
Wake up early enough to think about the day ahead, plan, read or write, do some yoga, meditation or prayers before setting off for work.
If you wake up with enough time to calmly get out of the house and make the train etc. you've already taken care of yourself before your day has even fully begun.
2. Eat well, drink water
Drink a tall glass of water upon waking up to kick-start your liver and body and then eat a good hearty breakfast. Making sure you have eaten a good meal in the morning will ensure you don't have any energy slumps, you'll feel more positive and ready for any challenges that come your way.
Try to eat fresh vibrant food that is in season.
3. Become more mindful.
Put your phone away so you can focus on the moment you're in, even while eating your meal. Being mindful, helps you to appreciate what you're doing and also remember what you've done.
If you can't remember what you ate this time yesterday, you know you were distracted and not being mindful.
4. Learn to say NO
You can't do everything - you just can't.
When my children have parties at school, I am more than happy to bring in lots of food, but I refuse to make sandwiches, pizza or fry food because I know that it will add to my stressful morning and I will not only get frustrated but the kids will bear the brunt of it when we are running late for school because I took too much on.
You can't get back time you could have spent on something that could have benefitted your life or health in other ways.
If you can reduce stress by saying 'NO'... it's worth saying it now and again.
5. Slow down
Simplify your tasks, take a deep breath and tick off what you can. Life never stops, everything gets done eventually and the world doesn't stop revolving if you don't get everything done on time.
Notice the things that you pass when you are driving or walking somewhere, do nothing at all for 10 or 15 minutes when you wake up.
Process your thoughts.
6. Be positive
Try to find the positive in whatever you can; whether it is your food, your house, your day, your children, your route to work, there is always something good in what you have and are doing.
Try and see that and focus on it. It's not only a way of being more grateful but it will also make you feel better about yourself and your life.
If something challenging happens to you, try to look at it differently. It's perception of a situation that is upsetting rather than the situation itself.
7. Acknowledge your feelings
It's okay to feel sad, depressed, anxious, lonely or even happy. Sit with your feelings, write about them (it can really help).
Share your feelings if you can with someone you trust.
8. Do something for yourself
Whether it's a walk, writing, going on holiday... do something that you can enjoy. You don't have to go abroad to have a holiday, you can go and see the sights in your own city or surrounding area.
Even a drive through the countryside can be rejuvenating, just soaking up the colours in the environment can be a way of relaxing.
9. Connect with your inner child
What did you love to do as a child? Riding a bike? Going on picnics? Roller-skating? Running through sprinklers? Try and remember and go ahead and do it! It has been shown to be invigorating for the brain.
10. Get outside
Try and walk often and if you can get near water, do so. It is not only calming, but can bring clarity.
Many people find the sound of moving water soothing.
11. Just BE
Allow yourself to just be! Sit for 10 minutes or so and look at the blank TV screen before you switch it on.
Just sit, don't focus on anything, or any task or programme. Just sit and BE!
12. Write down what you are grateful for
Try to do this regularly. When you focus on what you have got (even the things we take for granted such as eyesight, having two hands, money to buy toiletries etc.) you feel more able to tackle the challenges you face. You realise that you have what many around the world don't.
Robert Emmons, a Psychology Professor at the University of California found that people who wrote down five things they felt grateful for on a weekly basis reported increased optimism and fewer health problems.
13. Reconnect with people you once liked to spend time with
We disconnect with people from our childhood because we move on to pastures new and want to meet different and diverse people. Sometimes it can be refreshing to meet someone you grew up with and talk about old times and memories when life was simpler (it's got to be simpler than now right?!)
14. List your accomplishments
You may think you haven't achieved much, but if you sit down and think about how far you have come, I'm pretty sure you will end up with a pretty long list!
You could try and do this at the end of each year, include holidays, personal challenges, tests, things you learnt.
15. Declutter your physical and mental environment
Get rid of what you don't need.
In your physical space - if you haven't used something for over a year, you clearly don't need it, give it to charity, or someone who needs it or sell it.
The more you have to wade through at home or look at, the more likely you are to feeling drained and stressed.
Declutter your mind by focusing on the present and not on negative stories of the past that are bringing you down. Open your mind to new possibilities and a hopeful future.
Finally, look after yourself. If you do it now, you will be pleased you did as you move on to the next phase in your life.