16 Ways to Be Nice to Yourself This Year

pictureLet me ask you a question…

Those negative thoughts and mean things you think about yourself in your head – would you ever treat someone else that way? No. Because it’s horrible and rude and you would have no friends, right? Right!

So, why is it okay to treat yourself that way? Well, it’s not… and it’s time that you made a change!

Making changes in your self-care practice can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. Stress, illness, anxiety, depression, weight gain can all be managed better if you were to start acting like your own best friend.

This year, be nicer to yourself by taking some of the following steps:

1. Ditch the Sugar!

Sugar’s like a drug – Once introduced, your body craves it. It’s consequences on the body can keep you from reaching your mental and physical goals. Kick the habit. It’ll be tough at first (just being honest!), but the less you have – the less you’ll want it.

2. Improve Sleep!

Take your sleep seriously. Quality sleep allows our body to detoxify, heal and restore, leaving you functioning better overall. Turn the TV off, put the phone down and stop whatever you are doing at least 15-30 minutes before bed. Lay down and let yourself relax, breathe and prepare for sleep. Using some aromatherapy and sound therapy can help a lot too.

3. Take Baths!

There aren’t too many things in this world better for self-care than a bubble bath. Allow your body to relax, add some bubble bath or epsom salts and grab a book or just zone out. Our body craves this time and it’s important to allow ourselves to take it. Don’t have a bath tub? Try a foot soak instead.

4. Avoid Food Triggers!

Is there a food or several foods that you know your body does not like? Then why are you continuing to eat it? That’s not being very nice to yourself! Get rid of those foods and see how your body and mind thanks you.

5. Make Time for Friends!

Socializing with supportive friends is an important part of self-care. Pick a date once a month to get together with the people you care about.

6. Give Yourself a Pat on the Back!

When was the last time you told yourself “good job”? Taking the time to acknowledge your simple accomplishments helps to build self esteem, confidence and overall happiness. Take a moment after each day to be proud of the things you did – maybe it’s something small, like deciding not to flip the bird and road-rage out at that idiot driver this morning (OK, that can be really BIG for some people), or maybe it’s something bigger, like receiving an award at work – whatever the case, big or small you deserve to be proud of it.

7. Keep a Gratitude Journal!

Train your brain to think more positive. Before bed, write down three things you are grateful for. We don’t normally take the time to do this, so it’s tough to think that way. But, each day it will become easier. Most of us have an easier time thinking negatively than positively. This activity helps to retrain your way of thinking and it will carry over to other aspects of your life.

8. Smile!

This one shouldn’t need too much of an explanation. Just start smiling more. Smile at the neighbor, the dude you accidentally bumped into on the sidewalk, the Starbuck’s employee who hands you your coffee, or at YOURSELF in the mirror. According to this Psychology Today article, every time you smile you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. Come on now, who doesn’t want a little feel-good party…?

9. Take Deep Breaths!

I would bet you a decent amount of money that you don’t breathe properly. It’s true. Most of us, due to stress and physical issues, breathe up in our chest rather than down deep in our diaphragm like we should. Chest breathing causing increased stress, tension and strain in your neck and shoulders. Practice diaphragmatic breathing each night right before sleep. Check out this video to learn how to belly breathe.

10. Drink More Water!

One of the easiest ways to be nicer to yourself is to just drink more water. Your body craves it and uses that good old H2O for so many functions. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day for your health.

11. Get Moving!

Our bodies were made to MOVE. Lack of exercise contributes to negative emotions and physical ailments. Try an online yoga subscription, join your local gym or a kickboxing studio. Whatever interests you, make the time for it. You deserve to nurture your hobbies and strengthen your body.

12. Read a Book!

I’m sure you have at least one or two piles of books that just never got read… Or that new kindle you bought that is serving as an awesome paperweight… Reading is a great way to get ourselves out of our own head, leaving our worries and stress behind for a little while. The more positive activities we engage in, the less time we have to dwell on the negative, the better we will feel.

13. Practice Non-Judgment!

Commit to not judging yourself or others. What if we were to assume that everyone, including yourself, it just doing the best they can in that moment? Practicing this way of thinking is a huge positive step that results in less anger, stress, freak-outs and anxiety.

14. Take a “Mental Health” Day!

Did you use most of your personal time off from work for running errands, doctor’s visits, and parent responsibilities? This year, let yourself use at least one or two days to just be. Maybe you do nothing, maybe you go do an activity you enjoy – whatever the case may be, use some of your time for YOU!

15. Spend Time Outside!

Fresh air and sunshine contributes to positivity and benefits your health. Even in the winter, make sure to spend a little time outside and just allow yourself to take some deep breaths and enjoy your surroundings. Too cold..? Put on a heavier jacket and stop making excuses, I’m not talking about running a mile – just a few minutes in the fresh air! 😉

16. Ask Yourself – Is This Really a Big Deal?

Remember that waitress the other day that accidentally spilled your drink and you totally freaked out on her…? That stress reaction had a negative affect on your mind and body (I know you felt it)- and her self esteem. Was it worth it? Nope. What if, next time, you just smile and said “Don’t worry, it happens”. Next time, ask yourself “Is this really a big deal? Is this worth the consequences of my stress reaction?”

Set yourself up for a better year by committing to be your own best friend!

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Jessica Sullivan, LMSW, SFG, NTP

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