20 Things to Start Doing for Yourself
How often do you revisit the goals and dreams you’ve put on hold for “another time?”
You spend a lot of time giving. Giving yourself to others, to your work and everything else in between. Life gets busy and you often put yourself and your needs last. They don’t seem important, urgent or significant, do they?
Take a moment to think about it and ask yourself, if any of these apply to you:
- You often commit to doing things you really don’t feel like doing.
- You’ve become an emotional sponge, soaking up someone’s constant emotional dumping. Even though you know that it has a negative effect on your mood and your own energy, you just don’t know how to set boundaries.
- You have a tendency to beat yourself up over a stupid mistake you’ve made, for hours on end.
- Your fear of being judged stops you from doing and trying things you’ve always wanted to try, do and see.
- You’ve heard the world tell you that it’s “too late” for you to make a change, to try new things, to stir things up, to start again.
Well, here’s a little reminder: it’s never too late. It’s never too late to make a change, to try new things to do for yourself.
20 THINGS TO START DOING FOR YOURSELF
1. LEARN TO SAY “NO”
Speaking as a recovering people-pleaser, I’ll admit that I found saying “no” very difficult at first. It used to be that I’d rather put myself in very uncomfortable situations, than just say “um, no, thanks.”
How often do you say “yes” to things you don’t feel like doing? Commit to doing a favor when you know you have other things you want to focus on? You don’t always have to say “yes.” Not only is it okay to say “no,” it’s healthy and important to do it. Learn to say it without feeling guilty and set boundaries.
2. START FACING YOUR PROBLEMS, HEAD-ON
Having something hanging over your head- whether it may be, can be mentally exhausting. It’s the last thing you think of before you go to bed, and the first thing you think of, the moment you open your eyes. Sit down with a piece of paper, and ask yourself “what is one small step that I can take RIGHT NOW?” Problems don’t resolve themselves, and however long you keep putting these things off, they will still be there. Don’t be afraid to take action, even if it’s very small. Most of the time these things really aren’t as scary or intimidating as we make them out to be. Don’t wait until last-minute, acknowledge the problem and take action.
3. MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY
Sometimes, you want to keep pushing through, no matter how tired or exhausted you are. You give a lot of yourself to others, but how much do you give to yourself? Sometimes it’s hard to come to a realization that yes, your needs matter, too. You can be a parent, a partner, a spouse, you’re running or starting a business, you’re a brother, sister, maybe you’re taking care of a loved one. Don’t stop giving yourself to others, but realize that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Grab lunch with a friend. Read a few pages of a book first thing in the morning, grab a cup of coffee from your favorite place, on your way home from work. Your needs and feelings matter.
4. BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF
Pay attention to the way you talk to yourself, and about yourself, when you talk to others. Do you tend to put yourself down, when things don’t go your way? How often do you criticize yourself for mistakes you’ve made? Be gentle with yourself. Talk to yourself the same way you’d talk to a friend or a little sister.
5. LEARN TO BE HAPPY FOR OTHERS
From my experience, this is something that is a bit difficult for a lot of people. Why? The answer is simple: envy. It’s not always easy to be happy for someone when you see them finally catching a break when you’ve been working hard for years and you’re still trying to catch yours. I have a very simple mindset that I dive into whenever those feelings of jealousy take over: I feel happy for that person. I treat that as proof that it CAN be done. Think of it as the Universe (or God or Divine Presence, whatever you believe in) whispering to you “these are the things you want, they’re coming your way.” When you see people who’ve accomplished things you hope to accomplish one day, be happy. Learn from them. Let go of the comparison, do not allow yourself to become bitter and lose focus of what’s important to you.
6. START FORGIVING AND LET GO
Learn to forgive, not just yourself, but others, too. Don’t hold grudges- they don’t serve you. Forgive yourself for the bad decisions you’ve made. It takes courage to do that, to admit that. So be courageous and learn to let go and move on.
7. TAKE SMALL STEPS, EVERY DAY
Keep growing, keep learning. It’s okay to take small steps. Small changes lead to big results and every major change starts with a single step.
8. LOOK FOR THE BEAUTY IN THE LITTLE THINGS
You don’t have to wait for something big, huge to happen, in order to celebrate, to be happy or excited. Beautiful and amazing things happen every single day- you just have to learn to notice them.
9. ONCE IN A WHILE, TAKE A MENTAL DAY OFF
Okay, so we can’t always afford to take an entire day off. But perhaps, you can take a few hours a week and spend that time clearing your mind? Meditating, journaling, reading, or simply sitting in a park, staring at the sky, listening to the wind, feeling the sun on your skin. Whatever you choose to do, remember to turn off your phone, to just disconnect from the world, once in a while.
10. BE YOURSELF
Don’t listen when the world tells you that you’re “too old” to try something new, or that it’s “too late” for you to do something incredible with your life.
11. NURTURE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
So many of us know the feeling of growing apart from other people, having good friends we haven’t talked to in weeks, months, years. Life happens. We all “grow up” and suddenly have to deal with all the adult stuff. School, family, work. Everything in between becomes less important.
Sometimes you simply get lost, become too busy, too stressed. You keep thinking of “reaching out” to someone who was once very close and the longer you keep putting it off, the more difficult it becomes to get together. You forget just how special some of those relationships are. It’s not always a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. You can see your partner, mother or sister on a daily basis, but that doesn’t always mean that you’re being present during that time. Care for those relationships. Take some time out of your schedule to do something different, something new that will help you and your friends or family make new memories to look back on. It’s the people around us who make life fun. Happiness is being able to share all those moments with someone you love.
12. MAKE TIME FOR DOING THE THINGS YOU LOVE
Maybe you used to paint or played an instrument. Maybe your life got so busy that you no longer seem to have time to pick up a book? Make time for things you love to do, things that bring you joy, things that put a smile on your face. This can range from something as small as listening to your favorite record, to finally planning that solo trip you’ve always wanted to go on. If you’re really struggling to find the time, schedule it in your calendar- just like you would any other appointment.
13. LEARN TO CELEBRATE YOUR VICTORIES
How often do you tell yourself “good job!”My guess is that for most of us, it’s not very often. Because once you accomplish one thing, you’re either want to get better at it, or you already have your sight set on another goal. However small they might seem, start celebrating your victories. Every step counts because, without that first one, you’d never take the next one.
14. SPEND MORE TIME IN THE PRESENT
This present moment, right here, is all you have. Your “now” will always be your most important moment. Stop wishing you were someplace else. Life takes place here and now- and that’s where you need to be to make those moments special. Even if they seem insignificant. By being more present you take away the focus of things that you might worry or be anxious about. Use mindfulness bells to remind yourself to return to the present. Your senses can help you stay in the present moment. What do you hear right now? What do you smell? What do you see?
15. WALK AWAY FROM TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS
This can be difficult. Especially if we’re talking about long-term friendships and relationships. If there comes a point at which you keep giving but receive nothing in return, other than constant negativity, emotional dumping; if there is someone in your life who doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, someone who harshly judges your life choices– it’s time to move on.
16. TREAT YOUR BODY WELL
Eat healthy- it’s not as difficult as you might think. Ditch the soda, start reading the labels (you’d be surprised at how many foods marketed as “healthy” are complete garbage). Show love and appreciation to your body. Stretch every morning and night, try dry-brushing, get enough sleep, spend some time outdoors and get that fresh air. Skip the elevator and take the stairs. Pay attention to the things you do for yourself, the way you talk to yourself about your body. All these small changes add up quickly.
17. DO MORE THINGS THAT SCARE YOU
Getting out of your comfort zone is the only way to grow. Trying new things can be intimidating, but it can also help you gain confidence. It’s the only way to become courageous. Ask yourself if there are some things you’ve been putting off doing or trying for years, just because you’re afraid to fo for it. Don’t give in to fear of failure or embarrassment. You gotta feel the fear and do it anyway.
18. CREATE A REGULAR GRATITUDE PRACTICE
I’ve always thought of myself as a grateful person. It wasn’t until I started a daily gratitude practice, that I’ve realized how much I have taken for granted over the years. With regular gratitude practice, you start paying attention to all the “good” in life and waste less time focusing on negativity. You start seeing just how good your life is, despite some of the struggles. There is so much to be grateful for, even if your circumstances are far from ideal.
19. STOP WAITING (AND WISHING) + START DOING
If you wait for a perfect moment, or an opportunity to come, you might spend the rest of your life waiting. Stop waiting and start doing. Don’t put things off for years. Live by the words Arthur Ashe once said: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
20. GIVE MORE LOVE (TO YOURSELF AND OTHERS)
Here’s one of the most important things to do for yourself: give more love. To yourself and those around you. Show yourself love in the choices you make, the way you treat yourself. At work, at home, when getting groceries- be kind. Sometimes, it seems like our world is a mean, scary and maybe even an evil place at times. Something as simple as a store clerk giving you a dirty look or making a rude comment isn’t evil, of course. But if you’re already having a crappy day, it can be just enough to put that cherry on top and ruin your mood and day completely. Be kind during those moments, too. It’s up to us to help make the world a kinder, more loving, accepting place. It all starts with giving more love. Be kind to others, guide them and help whenever you can.