Taking good care of yourself is important if you want to give your best to the world. You cannot care for others if you don’t care for yourself.TheExceleratedLife.com
How I Received Some Good Advice
When our little girl was stricken with a debilitating stroke, we were devastated, as you might imagine. Having no family nearby, we relied on our good friends. They took over much of the care of our older daughter and gave my wife and me much-needed support. In particular, someone – I don’t remember who it was now – gave us some important advice. “You have to take care of yourselves,” he or she said, “if you are to give her the best care. You cannot care properly for your daughter if you let yourselves get run down.” We did small things, such as taking turns going outside for a short walk, trying to sleep when we could, and eating to keep up our strength. It wasn’t anything big, but it kept us going, kept us from collapsing in on ourselves. Outside of the medical help, it was the best advice we received.
You may be enduring a situation where you are under great strain, maybe caring for a loved one, or simply trying to live day by day through these trying times. Recall the flight attendants’ pre-flight instructions: If the cabin pressure drops and oxygen masks fall down from their storage area, put your mask on first before you try to help another person with his or her mask. You must take care of yourself if you are to be able to care for others.
Taking Good Care Of Yourself
Excelerated Self-Care™ is taking excellent care of yourself in all areas – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social – to increase your health, your positivity and happiness, and your well-being. We do this not simply for ourselves, but to better give ourselves in service to the world. It’s putting your oxygen mask on first.
With that in mind, here are 10 self-care practices gleaned from a number of sources [*]. I’ve put them in order based on the frequency with which they appeared across all the resources I studied (and not necessarily in what I considered the order of importance).
1. Eat a healthier diet.
This was the top suggestion, with four of the six resources offering 9 specific ways to eat healthier. Suggestions include eating more fruits and vegetables , cooking at home to have healthier choices  and then taking a home-made lunch (leftovers?) to work . Eating the “right” foods includes adding such things as fatty fish, nuts, blueberries and leafy greens.  Other ideas to consider are starting your day with a healthy smoothy  or fresh juice , chewing your food thoroughly  and eating in peaceful surroundings , i.e., NOT at your desk while you work and not in front of the TV.
2. Make self-care a priority.
It should be obvious that an important but often neglected area such as your own self-care must be a priority if you are going to pay attention to it and do the practices. Again four of the six resources gave 7 suggestions for making self-care a priority.
They included scheduling your self-care time and guarding it against encroachment . It doesn’t have to be a huge chunk of time, a few minutes of deep breathing is sometimes all that’s needed. But you also should plan chunks of time for exercise, cooking healthy meals, or whatever your needs are. You may even want to add them to your calendar. While you’re adding these tasks to your calendar, it’s also important to set specific times when you don’t work but dedicate time to yourself  .
3. Get enough sleep.
We’ve talked on a number of occasions about the importance of getting enough sleep. (See Excelerated Fundamentals and Making Healthy Choices.) In fact, all six of the resources I reviewed listed getting enough sleep as an important self-care habit. They offered tips for helping you do this, such as avoiding alcohol and caffeine , using deep breathing, meditation, or another relaxation technique before bed . And of course, probably the number one deterrent of a good night’s sleep and something to avoid is looking at your computer, TV, or smartphone right before bed . Also, don’t forget the restful properties of taking a daytime nap .
4. Move your body.
This is another practice that is high on my self-care list. Exercise daily was mentioned by a number of sources  but I prefer to use the word move in the place of exercise, simply because of the connotation the “E” word has for many of us. Anything that adds movement to your day is helpful. It may be taking the stairs instead of the escalator , walking or biking instead of driving for short errands , or parking further from the store. Remember though that one workout in the morning and then sitting for the remainder of the day is not helpful. Find ways to add some type of movement throughout the day.
5. Read for fun and profit.
This is one of the most enjoyable self-care practices for us bookworms. Reading can be both pleasurable and educational. You can read fiction ; you can read for inspiration  or to learn about a specific subject; you could read a book on self-care as a self-care activity . Reading keeps your mind sharp and active , sparking creativity and improving problem-solving abilities . And reading can be relaxing and a pleasant escape when you need a temporary get-away .
“Meditation is proof that it doesn’t take a ton of time to do a mind and body good. Just a few minutes of quieting your mind can help relieve stress.”  Here are a couple of ways to add this important self-care practice to your day. (1) Do a short 5 – 10-minute meditation immediately upon arising , before you engage with your smartphone or other electronics. This time to relax and quiet your mind sets a positive tone for the day. (2) Pause throughout the day to take several deep breaths and quieten your mind . During this quiet time, focus on your breath or a word or phrase: “just this breath”, “compassion”, “love”, “light”, “Spirit”, “God” are words I’ve used in my own practice. When (not “if”) your thoughts stray, gently bring your mind back to your focus point.
7. Spend time in nature.
Taking a walk outdoors can improve your mental and your physical health . This is a great way to practice self-care tip # 4 – Move your body. Go outside for a walk, work in the yard, or play a game with your kids or grand-kids. Getting outdoors for a few minutes can clear your head if you’re dealing with a sticky problem at work. And spending time outside can improve your sleep .
8. Strengthen relationships.
We know that relationships are one of the keys to building positivity, so much so that Dr. Martin Seligman includes it as one of the five components of a life of well-being and flourishing. [Seligman]
One way to strengthen relationships is to reach out and talk to friends and family . Especially during this time when “social distancing” has become a watchword and many of us are prudently avoiding large crowds, we must at the same time be mindful of our need for connection. Keeping track of friends through social media is not the connection we need. Pick up the phone and call a friend, a brother, a sister, your mom or dad.
9. Turn things off.
In the age where we can be connected to the world 24/7 via our technology, it becomes even more important to our self-care to disconnect periodically, to unplug from technology . Here are a couple of things to consider.
Don’t sleep in the same room as your phone. By not looking at your phone, computer, TV, or other electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime, you’ll get better sleep (Tip 3). With the phone out of reach, it removes the temptation to pick it up first thing and begin checking e-mail or social media feeds. This gives you an opportunity to meditate (Tip 6) before you blow your brain up with outside inputs.
10. Clear the clutter.
We already knew that clutter can sap willpower but clutter also brings stress and makes work and life, in general, more difficult.  You can begin to take care of yourself by becoming better organized – fewer misplaced items and missed appointments can give you the time you need for some self-care practices . Here are specific tips to help you begin to declutter life.
Your Best Self
There is no shortage of ideas and suggestions for improving your self-care to begin taking good care of yourself. I found about 90 in the articles I surveyed and there were plenty more articles where those came from. But as a wise man once said what we need isn’t more knowing, but a lot more doing. Well, you now know 10 things to do – the 10 practices most mentioned in the sources I read.
If you are hesitant about taking the time to care for yourself, remember this. We want to be at our best so we can give our best in service to the world. That is embracing the Excelerated Life™!
(Please NOTE: I am neither a medical professional nor a licensed counselor. If you suffer from any health issues and / or before you make major changes in your health maintenance, consult with a qualified medical professional.)
Excelerated Self-Care™ — taking excellent care of yourself — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose and service.
[*] These are the sources I read. I’ve numbered them and used the numbers to indicate where the individual suggestions came from.
 “Taking Care of Yourself.” Taking Care of Yourself. NAMI: National Alliance On Mental Illness, Publisher, . Web. June 7, 2020.
 Felman, Adam. “25 Science-Backed Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself.” Greatist. Greatist a Red Ventures Company, . Web. June 7, 2020.
 Davis, Ph.D., Tchiki. “Self-Care: 12 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, December 28, 2018. Web. June 7, 2020.
 Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC). “13 Ways to Take Care of Yourself Every Day.” Success. Success Magazine, March 1, 2017. Web. June 7, 2020.
 Power, Rhett. “11 Ways to Take Care of Yourself Every Day for a Happier Mind and Body.” Inc. Mansueto Ventures, July 28, 2015. Web. June 7, 2020.
 Pewhairangi, Danielle Eva. “20 Simple Ways To Take Great Care Of Yourself.” mbghealth. mindbodygreen, LLC, September 12, 2013. Web. June 7, 2020.
Seligman, Ph.D., Martin E. P. Flourish. New York: Free Press, 2011.