Everyone has a choice in how they live their life. You get to choose what and who to focus on. Amidst the hustle and bustle of life, you can choose to care for yourself or neglect your needs. Something as simple and overlooked as self-care can prevent burnout and give your mental health a boost. Your quality of life will be improved if you make these seven choices:
Choose love. Love can come from anyone who brings happiness into your life. It can mean deciding to date instead of making your job your only priority. It can mean deciding to start a family. Maybe you just want to spend more time with the family and friends you already have. Maybe you’re realizing that years of being a workaholic have put a strain on your relationship, and it’s finally time to give your partner the attention they deserve. When your relationships are positive, your well-being increases.
Love also shows itself in pets, particularly a dog that will give you unconditional love and make your cloudy days feel brighter. Dogs help balance mental health issues by easing depression, anxiety, loneliness, and stress. Caring for another life also promotes a sense of purpose and value. Sure, there’s more work in owning a dog, like waking up earlier for walks, but the benefits outweigh the burden that comes with caring for one. And 30 minutes of walking a day is always a good thing, because you can get more exercise while bonding with your pet. Show yourself care by adopting a dog. It’s the kind of love that gives endless rewards.
Choose forgiveness. Forgive yourself for what you’ve done in the past, and forgive others that have caused you pain. Holding grudges means that you’re unable to let go of the past, and the person who’s harmed the most by your grudges is you. Grudges cause psychological stress and anger retention, which isn’t good for your physical health, either. When you choose to forgive someone or yourself, it doesn’t mean you’re absolving them of wrongdoing. It means you’re letting go of the pain and negative feelings associated with that person or situation. You’re able to live a freer life if the past isn’t always hovering over you like a dark cloud.
Choose happiness. We often find ourselves fighting over things that don’t matter, simply because we refuse to be wrong or want to get in the last word. Our egos won’t let the issue go. There’s no benefit in getting involved with conflicts that don’t matter. What’s the purpose? To prove that you’re right? The next time you’re butting heads with someone over a trivial matter, ask yourself if it’s something worth fighting over. Sometimes, being happy means letting go of the small stuff and focusing on what’s important.
Choose adventure. Your elders might have warned you about the risk of chasing your dreams, but you’re living your life, not theirs. Not only can transformative adventures make your life feel more fulfilled, but they can also provide the natural high that helps get you through the rougher days.
Make a list of things you want to do, and start crossing items off it. Rent a camper and take a road trip. Hike Zion or the Grand Canyon. Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain. Lounge on the beach in Tulum. Take surfing lessons in Australia. Follow your favorite band on tour. Or, maybe just go to food truck night in your city this month. Adventures can be of any scale, cost or distance.
Choose time alone. Alone time could be just what you need to recharge. Being alone is the time to be creative, productive and reflective. One great way to make the most of your solo time is to meditate: all you need is a quiet room (ideally, one with plenty of natural light a muted color scheme), a cushy yoga mat, and a guided practice that will help you learn to focus on your breath, your emotions, and yourself. Taking a break from people every now and then can have a calming effect, and when you’re ready to be social again, you’ll feel more energized.
Choose time with others. Being around others can also be invigorating, especially for extroverts. Who are your family members that bring you joy? Which of your friends makes you feel good? When was the last time you saw them? Make time for the people in your life who are a positive influence. Too much alone time can lead to depressing feelings. While it’s good to get away and be with yourself (and actually enjoy being with yourself), becoming antisocial could cause more harm than good.
Choose you. Sometimes, it’s good to eschew unnecessary responsibilities that others impose on you. If it doesn’t require taking care of someone who depends on you or completing a pertinent work task during work hours, then it can wait. Leave your phone at home while you go out one night so you can have a true night off, or turn it off when you get home so you can actually relax without interruptions. Refuse to answer or look at work emails at home.
Take a break from social media so you can focus on real life. Take a real lunch break at work instead of eating at your desk. Say “no” to requests that you don’t want to do. You don’t have to be everything for everyone, and you don’t have to say “yes” to requests that you’re not obligated to do. Setting boundaries for yourself doesn’t mean that you’re letting people down, so let go of that worry.
When you take care of yourself, you’re able to function better. Self-neglect leads to burnout if left unchecked, so make sure you’re caring for yourself by making good choices. Don’t forget the simple things, like getting enough sleep, nourishing your body, and relaxing. All of these actions can help reduce stress, which means you can be your best self. Treat your mind well, and it will take care of you in return.
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