It’s wonderful when people do kind and loving things for us, and nothing is more fun than really brightening someone’s day or lending a hand when needed, but I think it’s even more important to form the habit of being kind to ourselves. Besides, it’s hard to love and respect others when we don’t love and respect ourselves, and how well we take care of ourselves shows how much we love and respect ourselves.
There are so many simple things we can do to feel better and make our lives better. There might be some bigger things we need to do like break some destructive habits, get counseling, or get out of a really bad relationship, but I’m talking about easy little things that don’t require a lot of time or money or effort.
Macrina Weiderkher shares this little prayer: “Oh, God, help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is!” Taking good care of ourselves starts with believing that we are worth it, that we weren’t created by accident, that we have important work to do. Every day thank God for creating you just the way you are, forgive yourself for past mistakes, and resolve to see yourself as a magnificent creation made to love and be loved.
Here are some other ideas to help you on your way to greater physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Immediately when you wake up in the morning, give thanks. I usually say “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” and I try to really think about the words so it doesn’t just become a routine. We all have different lives and schedules, and we can’t all exercise right away in the morning or have a fresh smoothie for breakfast, but we are all in control of the first thoughts we think on awakening.
Remember to breathe. . . This is one of the simplest things we can do for our health and also one of the most undervalued, I think. It’s estimated that proper breathing helps your body eliminate toxins 15 times faster than poor shallow breathing. It also helps us feel less stressed and more relaxed. Try to become aware of your breathing at least once an hour. Take long breaths. Each breath should expand your belly, lower back, and ribs. Try not to breathe with your chest. Put your hands on your stomach and feel them rise and fall, rising when you inhale and falling when you exhale. Most people breathe around 12-16 times a minute, and 8-10 would be ideal.
Eat more plants – eat more plants – eat more plants. Preferably plants that have been grown without chemicals. It’s harder in the winter, but soups and stews are a good way to incorporate more vegetables in our diet, or maybe a handful of spinach thrown into a smoothie. Whatever it takes, just add more plant foods to your diet!
Look at the sky, look at trees, snow, stars, the moon. Seems like someone should come up with a ratio of time spent looking at screens/time spent out in nature (or at least looking out the window) to see how we can best maintain the health of our eyes and our nervous systems.
Move your body – I don’t like the word exercise. Just do the active things you love to do. If that is to work out at a gym, do that. If it’s dancing or running or biking or skating, do that. I know from experience that a brisk three mile walk can help process some painful emotions, and you just can’t have a healthy body without moving it.
Psalm 4:8 says “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone O Lord make me dwell in safety.” Fears, anxieties, stresses, and worries all keep us from enjoying that sweet, peaceful sleep. If these are things that bother you, do all of the above, and watch what you allow to come into your mind. Too many negative newscasts or violent or ridiculous TV shows can have an effect on your sleep. Train yourself to think on “whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable”. It is possible to get out of a negative, worrying mindset – you have to believe it’s possible, and you have to work at it. Sleep is so important for our overall health. End your day with gratitude just like you started it. Buy some lavender essential oil and put it in a little spray bottle with some water and spray it on your pillow and around your room. Tuck your kids in and have your last words to them and your spouse be sweet. Buy the most comfortable pillows and the softest sheets you can. Sleep peacefully. . .
There are lots of other things I could write about. Maybe I will sometime. Just reading over this list made me see how I’ve become lax about some of these things, and it’s a good reminder. Be good to yourself – you are worth it!