10 Simple Ways to Start Taking Care of Yourself

  1. Take your medication. Even if you are sceptical about how effective it is, give medication a shot if you been prescribed some. Never stop taking it or adjust the dose without supervision from your doctor. If you have trouble remembering to take it, keep it in a visible place (out of the reach of any children or pets) and next to a calendar you can cross off.

 

  1. Eat breakfast. The more nutritious, the better, but eating anything is better than skipping breakfast. It helps you to wake up and prepare for the day ahead. It also sets a precedent: when you start the day with a caring gesture, you are more likely to continue in the same vein.

 

  1. Apply body lotion. This sounds random, but it helps you to reconnect with your body. I credit this habit with helping me improve my health and fitness over the past couple of years. It made me aware of the mind-body connection and enabled me to start appreciating my body after years of self-hatred and abuse.

 

  1. Stretch. You don’t have to do hours of yoga (though you can if you want): just stretch a few times a day. I do it while watching TV. Try to stretch your whole body and never force the stretch – slight discomfort is normal, pain is not. I find stretching good for de-stressing and bringing me back into the moment.

 

  1. Eat a piece of fruit. Healthy eating often falls by the wayside when you have mental health problems. Eating a single piece of fruit takes little effort and reminds you of the importance of taking care of yourself. Even if the rest of your diet is a disaster zone, you will have done one thing to nourish your body.

 

  1. Find 3 things to be grateful for. At first, this is very difficult. The only ideas you come up with will seem stupid. But there are no stupid answers and everyone can find 3 little things for which to be grateful. Mine have included the sun shining, my dog, watching a TV programme, chocolate, a cup of tea, listening to my favourite song and getting a text message from a friend. Even when you find ‘bigger’ things to be thankful for, you will often find that the ‘little’ things give you just as much pleasure.

 

  1. Open a window. You might feel like shutting yourself away and that’s fine, but opening a window gives your home an airing and helps it feel less stale. It also connects you to the outside world in a small way, which reminds you that you are part of the world.

 

  1. Stroke an animal. This is tricky if you don’t have a pet, but you can borrow one from a friend or neighbour. Or find a friendly cat in the street. Stroking animals has proven to be beneficial for mental health. It feels good to give attention to another being – and to receive their attention and gratitude in return.

 

  1. Buy some flowers. A cheap bunch of seasonal blooms is perfect because they usually have better scents than expensive flowers. They add a little cheer to your home and brightness to your life, reminding you that there is beauty in the world.

 

  1. Contemplate a piece of art. A favourite painting or poem is ideal for this, but music, films, sculpture and stories also work well. Art is all about connecting with other people – the artist(s), the subject(s), your fellow appreciators and the world in general. Art has a deep beauty that resonates; it’s not just about aesthetics, it’s also about the concepts at its heart.
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