Practice self-care! Be kind to yourself! Put yourself first!

What do these phrases really mean?

It’s simple: YOU need to be your own first priority.

To quote the Harvard Medical School, “Airline attendants say it well: if the plane hits turbulence and the oxygen masks come down, place a mask on yourself first before turning to help others. This is absolutely critical. If we don’t, we may not be able to help anyone.”

If we are to take care of ourselves first in an emergency situation, why should we not do it in everyday scenarios, too?

Why you should be kind to yourself:

Did you know that studies show that by taking care of yourself, you often end up happier, less stressed and anxious, and healthier?

Not only that, but self-care can also prevent feeling run down and you’ll better suited to taking care of others. This means that you’ll feel better and your relationships will improve. All from taking the time to focus on what YOU need.

There are three types of taking care of yourself: treating, taking care, and pushing yourself.

Treating Yourself

‘Parks and Recreation’ has this wonderful theme of Treat Yo Self, where it shows examples of living luxuriously and taking some free time to be “selfish”. Sometimes, it may get to extremes, but the occasional impulse buy should not be a bad thing. If a new shirt or a tea subscription makes you happy, then it was worth it.

Allow yourself to enjoy the little things.

Add all the toppings you want to your homemade hot chocolate. Pour extra bubbles into your bath and find a rubber ducky to float around as you sip your wine. Find some bright flowers and display them in your kitchen.

See yourself as a friend who you can take care of, not an enemy to defeat.

Taking Care of Yourself

You may not want to shower or get dressed every day, but simply the act of putting effort into your appearance makes you feel better about yourself. After all, it’s hard to feel your best still wearing yesterday’s pajamas.

Physical health.

Touching on the physical element of self-care, the quality of your sleep, staying hydrated, and eating right have a significant impact on your physical and mental health.

Be sure to visit your doctors regularly- from your family doctor to the optometrist, to your dentist. Proactive appointments make it much easier to take good care of yourself and can often save you from severe health conditions down the road.

Go outside.

Fresh air revitalizes you, refreshes your senses, and boosts your immune system. A few minutes in the sunshine helps your body to produce vitamin D.

Even if it’s a gloomy day, dress appropriately for the weather and get out there. The fresh oxygen will do you good and it’s an easy way to get some exercise in by going for a walk!

Recognize all your accomplishments and good attributes.

You may not recognize everything good about yourself but start taking note of the things you do notice. If you’re still struggling, ask your loved ones what they like about you.

Tell yourself that “I am enough,” because you really are. You are incredible and you deserve happiness and good things. If you have trouble believing that, recognize that at least, you are a person and all people deserve decency!

Set time aside for yourself.

Whether it’s watching a show you like, doodling, journaling, meditating, going for a walk, reading a book, listening to music, or taking pictures of your dog. Taking quality time for yourself is a great mental reset.

Spend time with your loved ones.

Include other people in your self-care. Socialize safely and surround yourself with people who lift you up and bring out the best in you.

If you’re struggling, consider looking into therapy. (Not everyone in therapy is crazy or has unresolved trauma. Maybe your life is stressful, you want an unbiased ear to talk to, or you need help finding solutions to questions that are bugging you.)

Pushing yourself can be self-care at times.

While you push yourself to become greater, there needs to be a line between accepting where you are and striving to improve.

If it gets to the point where you start mentally beating yourself up because you haven’t achieved something, you need to stop, accept where you are, and be proud of yourself.

When you don’t feel like cleaning up, clean up anyways.

You don’t have to deep clean your house but find a small area that you can tackle. Tidying up the kitchen counter resets your mind and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Washing the laundry gives you the satisfaction of clean clothes and a fresh bed to sleep in (which will help you sleep better!)


It is difficult to be excited or can stay motivated to exercise. Yet, their determination and commitment keep them coming back. If running or going to the gym sounds unappealing, find a way to stay physically active that you can do successfully.

A walk outside is an easy way to get moving and some fresh air. Stretching for 15 minutes is enough to get your muscles moving and warm. Try skating, hula hooping, swimming, kickboxing, or anything else that sounds remotely interesting.

Accept your feelings.

Take the time to realize what you are feeling and think about what you can do about it. Acknowledging an emotion is the best way to reduce the impact of negative feelings and boost the benefits of positive ones!

Studies have shown that realizing that you are feeling upset or anxious allows those feelings to lessen, allowing you to feel back to normal.

Be kind to everyone.

Taking the time to realize the perspectives of others and approach them with genuine love will make you feel better. Kindness releases oxytocin (the “love hormone”) and serotonin (the “feel-good hormone”), which helps boost your mood and self-esteem.

There are many benefits to being kind, ‘it is better to give than to receive.’

Remember that words have a significant impact. A harsh word in anger is rarely forgotten, but also a genuine compliment can live in someone’s mind for years to come, too.

Get planning.

Take the time to think about what you want, whether it’s just for today or for your life. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed- just take the time to think of what is most important to you.

Find a journal, agenda, notepad, or phone, and allow yourself to think about the future and what you want out of life. Take the time to figure out the best way to achieve your goals, how long it will realistically take, and how you can make it work.

Self-care comes in many forms, but as you implement it, your overall quality of life will improve.

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Written by Kayla Willsey

Updated May 19, 2021