9 Easy Ways to Start Taking Better Care of Yourself Today

You probably have a clear list of priorities in your life. There are people who are important to you, a job you're committed to, and other obligations that fill up your schedule. But where do you fall on your own list of priorities? (See also: 10 Habits of Financially Happy People)

This isn't a matter of selfishness; it's a matter of self-care. You won't be able to care for anyone else if you're stressed, depressed, or depleted. So start a personal recharge today with these nine easy ways to take better care of yourself.

1. Make (and Keep!) Appointments with Yourself

Without formally scheduling some time to take for ourselves, life has a way of making sure every last moment gets filled up. Carve out some you time by making appointments with yourself. Be sure to treat these to-dos with the same seriousness you would any other appointments. Since you wouldn't miss a scheduled visit with your doctor, dentist, or hairdresser, you shouldn't miss one with yourself.

2. Take a Break

If you can't devote an entire day or even a full hour, reserve a few minutes to take better care of yourself throughout the day. For instance, just two minutes of meditation can reduce anxiety levels and help clear your thinking. The next time you find yourself waiting for a meeting to start, sitting on the subway, or otherwise stalled on the hamster-wheel of modern life, set the timer on your phone for two minutes and just focus on your breathing.

3. …And Then Take a Longer Break

It's no secret that Americans work long, hard hours, but did you know that 41% of us don't even plan to take all the vacation time we've accumulated? Even if you don't have the time or money to take a long-distance trip, plan a quick get-away close to home. Or, schedule a "staycation" and revisit a few of those hobbies you've been putting off. Better yet, simply enjoy the wild luxury of having nothing in particular to do!

4. Get Moving

Walking is one of the most basic forms of exercise recommended by doctors for people of all ages and ability levels. Walking is also slow-paced, so it can calm your mind as well as exercise your body. Enhance the experience by taking a walk through beautiful scenery or along a new and undiscovered route. Explore creative ways to fit walking into your day, like parking farther away from your destination or walking in place during TV commercials.

5. Indulge in DIY Spa Therapy

We all have basic personal hygiene rituals, so why not make yours special? Substitute a quick shower for a soothing bath and light some candles for more ambiance. Take it to the next level with at-home spa treatments — your body, mind, and frazzled last nerve will thank you.

6. On the Rocks? Hold the Sugar and Caffeine

Switching your coffee for warm water with lemon will banish caffeine jitters and promote better health. Sugar is another ingredient to consider eliminating from your drinks. Skip the sweet stuff and enjoy fruit and vegetable juices instead. Cut the natural sugar levels in these drinks by diluting with water. Experiment with nutritious juice recipes that will satisfy your taste buds and support your health goals, too.

7. Reap the Benefits of Sleep

Don't think of a good night's sleep as a luxury; think of it as an absolute necessity. Research shows that lack of sleep is linked to a host of maladies from the common cold to heart disease. Keep yourself refreshed and less susceptible to anxiety by staying well-rested. While naps are a great way to recharge quickly, if you're having trouble sleeping on a consistent basis, try inexpensive natural remedies and learn how to sleep better in fewer hours.

8. Eat Well

Besides getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious diet is one of the most basic things we can do to nurture our well-being. Remember, what you eat matters as much as what you don't eat. Adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet can be as simple as limiting grocery shopping to the perimeter of the store (junk food and processed food tends to pool in the middle). And since some foods are known for their stress-relieving properties; start building healthy meals around foods that help calm nerves. You'll be sure to notice a difference.

9. Floss

I'm not kidding. You know you should do it; your dentist tells you to do it — but is flossing a consistent part of your daily routine? If not, it's time to turn over a new leaf. Flossing isn't just a fundamental part of dental hygiene — some dentists even assert it's more important that brushing — the practice is linked to overall longevity. Protect your health by avoiding periodontal disease and tooth loss. You'll feel better and smile brighter.

How do you take care of yourself? What's the least expensive but most effective method for recharging your batteries and reclaiming part of your day? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture

Even standing up and stretching a bit helps. I try to do this when my hourly chime on my wristwatch goes off.