In order to understand how better self-care can lead to a better life, let me start with a simple question…Do you put yourself first?

What I am asking is do you put your physical and mental well-being ahead of taking care of loved ones, doing your job, staying abreast of the latest political scandal and keeping up with the Joneses in real life and on social media? Let’s face it, making time for me-time is usually last on the agenda until our body forces us to take a breather due to sickness. Even worse is that we often feel guilty about putting our needs first, ahead of others’.

How Can Better Self-Care Lead to a Better Life?

Taking the time to find balance in your life and putting yourself before everything and everyone else matters. If you have ever flown on a plane you know the drill: in case of an emergency, the flight attendant instructs you to put your own oxygen mask on first – before helping anyone else around you. This ensures that you won’t run out of oxygen on your quest to aid others. You don’t want to end up slumped over while your seat-mates are counting on you!!

I speak from experience, making YOU number one on your daily to-do list pays off. Doing more of what makes you happy and taking the time for self-care leads to more happiness, productivity and creativity.

3 Steps Toward a Happier, Healthier You 

A good place to start is finding balance in the basics: sleep, food/gut health and exercise. If these three crucial aspects of self-care needs are met consistently then you will find more room for joy and happiness. The world looks like a whole new place when you are sleeping well and your body is getting the proper nutrients and regular physical activity. Keeping that balance will never be perfect; what counts is when you feel like you are “off the wagon,” just hop back on in whatever way, shape or form you can.  

Step One: Sleep

Do you struggle winding down at night and getting to sleep or do you wake up, like me, with a plethora of 3:00 am thoughts? I find the best way to get to sleep or back to sleep is writing thoughts down. Leave a notepad on your night table so you can jot things down. The goal is to get thoughts, to dos, and worries OUT of your head so you can rest. There are also plenty of useful guided meditations and white noise apps related to getting to sleep or falling back to sleep. Listening to ocean waves is my favorite! Lastly, making a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time daily helps keep your body in tune with sleep.

Step Two: Food

Eat. Good. Food. Translation, eat food that our bodies were meant to eat; consume as many whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins as possible, and stay clear of processed foods. Recent studies have shown that getting the proper nutrition is directly correlated with preventing depression. Here is a link to a blog post from Harvard Health Publishing about why eating the right foods promotes both physical and mental well-being – very interesting!

Where to begin? If you have minimal time during the week to cook for yourself and your family, take an hour or two weekly to cook or prep foods that you can grab and go during the week. Here is a link to Rachel Maser’s clean food site. She has so many great ideas for weekly meal prepping, including yummy recipes too! 

If you feel like you need some extra health/nutritional coaching, I cannot recommend Nutrition in Motion enough! Kim Dorval and her team at NIM is dedicated to helping you find your balance and will help motivate and give you professional guidance along the way. They have numerous locations in NH and MA and also offer remote nutritional counseling.

Step Three: Exercise

Life is too short to wait for the right time to get into an exercise routine. The best part of taking time to exercise is that you just have to move your body and it’s free! You don’t have to belong to a fancy gym, have the right equipment at home or buy the newest, trendiest workout clothing. Don’t get me wrong, if any of those things motivate you to start and you have the financial means, by all means go for it. My point is, any amount of consistent movement is a form of necessary self- care that is often left to the wayside. Try yoga on YouTube, stretching, walking/jogging in your neighborhood or local track, workout videos (get them via streaming services or free at your local library), or workout subscriptions like Daily Burn. Remember, starting small is more than OK. You don’t need to begin with running a 5k!

Better Self-Care: How More Playful = More Productive 

After getting the basics down, it’s time to consider other ways you can unplug and play more.

Doing more of what makes you happy is so important. Are you an avid reader? Do you enjoy walks on the beach or soaking in beautiful artwork at your local art museum? Spending time with friends, hosting a dinner party? Whatever “play” means to you, do more of it. Set aside your work, put down your screens, and consider that doing more work, more housework, and over-scheduling yourself is not the answer to being more productive. Stepping out of your routine and plugging in time to play will help you feel more energized and focused when it comes time to get your day-to-day “stuff” accomplished. 

In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown quotes psychiatrist and researcher Dr. Stuart Brown (who is no relation!). Dr. Brown writes, “Respecting our biologically programmed need for play can transform work. It can bring back excitement and newness to our job. Play helps us deal with difficulties, provides a sense of expansiveness, promotes mastery of our craft, and is an essential part of the creative process.”

Better Self-Care: Baby Steps to Boost Your Creativity

Carving out time every day for white space is extremely important. Being constantly over-scheduled and not taking the time to clear our heads regularly impairs focus and concentration. Our ability to think and act creatively also takes a nose-dive. 

Start with baby steps. Reserve 10 minutes and do something that will help you clear your head. Personally I like getting up early before the house starts to come alive for the day, making myself a cup of coffee and stretching. I highly recommend the ROMWOD app, which incorporates stretching at your own ability level along with time at the end to just chill. Many athletes use this app to assist with their Range Of Motion but I use it to keep my head on straight and feel stronger/more flexible.

If stretching isn’t your thing, then find something that allows you to break free from the constant internal chatter feed – you can shut it down for 10 minutes, I promise! Other activities to consider: try the Headspace guided meditation app, take a walk outside in nature, listen to relaxing music, read a book by your favorite author, keep a gratitude journal. Giving your brain a breather, time to restore balance and the flow of natural mental processes, will open up space for creativity to blossom. Maybe you will find the solution to a problem that you’ve encountered at work, create a way to be more efficient in your daily routine or get more creative with your latest cooking endeavor!

Better self-care can lead to a better life. You owe it to yourself and those around you to make a self-care plan. Let go of any guilt associated with making YOU come first. Remember, you can’t help others and bring your best self to the table unless you put your own oxygen mask on first!

At Bartley Financial, we care more about way more than your finances.
We care about the life you’re trying to live, and finances are just a piece of that.
Call us any time if you need fresh ideas for your finances or help in achieving your big goals. We’re happy to help!