You hear a lot about self-care these days. It’s good for your mental health. But, many people in our society still aren’t practicing self-care.

Ultimate self-care doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. Self-care is defined as a way of preventing stress. But, not everyone would agree with this.

Ultimate self-care is for you.

What is your environment like? Do you feel that contributes to your stress? I want to make sure you understand that self-care cannot change the people in your life, or the environment that you live in.

The ultimate self-care plan can help you set the necessary boundaries in your life. The first step is accessing if you are stressed out or not.

Here are some early warning signs of stress:

Emotional Symptoms

  1. Easily agitated, restless, or a sense of unworthiness.
  2. Mentally tired, lack of flexibility, or difficulty concentrating.
  3. Irritability, defensiveness, or argumentative.
  4. Apathy, feelings of sadness, or no longer find activities pleasurable.
  5. Overcompensating, avoiding dealing with problems, or denial you have problems.
  6. Depression or general unhappiness.
  7. Poor judgement or only seeing the negative.

Physical Symptoms

  1. Aches and bodily pains.
  2. Chest pain or rapid heart rate.
  3. Diarrhea or constipation.
  4. Frequent colds or flu.
  5. Nausea or dizziness.
  6. Loss of sex drive.

Behavioral Symptoms

  1. Poor self-care behavior (hygiene, appearance).
  2. Late to work or poor follow through on tasks.
  3. Compulsive behaviors in areas such as spending, gambling, sex and/or substances.
  4. Legal problems, difficulty controlling aggressive impulses, or indebtedness.
  5. Avoidant behavior, difficulty accepting/neglecting responsibility.
  6. Nervous habits such as nail biting and pacing.
  7. Eating more or less.
  8. Sleeping too much or too little.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then it is time to start practicing the ultimate self-care plan.

You can start your ultimate self-care plan one day at a time. You can set a few minutes aside each day, or an hour each day. Whatever works for you is fine.

Remember, your ultimate self-care plan is a work in progress. You don’t want to judge yourself when you are practicing self-care. With a little practice you will soon be a pro at ultimate self-care.

Here are 15 ultimate self-care tips, that will help you to start feeling better today:

  1. Start by developing a Mindfulness practice. You can start with 10 minutes a day. Set up a time that will work for you, and practice Mindfulness at the same time each day. Mindfulness involves using deep breathing techniques. This is good for your central nervous system. Practice whether you feel stressed out or not.
  2. Get adequate sleep and rest. The recommendation is 7 to 9 hours. It’s true you can get too much sleep. Make sure the environment you sleep in is dark and quiet. You don’t want to have electronic devices nearby. They will keep you awake. Make sure they are shut down an hour before bed. I went on a walk with a friend the other day, and she asked me if I got enough sleep. I told her that I did, and she was surprised. She told me that she didn’t and that none of her friends or family did either. I was surprised. Sleep is essential. Our minds and body need it to recharge. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, then you need to start your ultimate self-care plan today. Make sleep a priority. Your mind and body will thank you.
  3. Surround yourself with positive people. Start by reviewing the people that you are the most close to. Take a look at your top five people. Are they supportive? Are the positive and optimistic, or are they negative? The people you are around have a direct effect on your emotional health. They should not be creating more stress in your life. They should be positive and supportive. If necessary, work at developing an adequate and appropriate support system.
  4. Smile and have laughter in your life. Laughing is the best medicine. You can watch a comedy or funny video. Be spontaneous and playful in your life. If you watch children, they are always making time for play. It is a priority in their life, and play should also be a priority in your life. When was the last time you looked at your life through a child’s eyes? It’s easy to predict that something won’t be fun, or that you won’t like someone. This is often based on negative experiences from the past. Studies show when you play more, you will have a more optimistic mindset.
  5. Approach each day with a purpose. Start by outlining daily structure. Each step is important to reach your goal. No task is too small to feel good about. This is where your inner critic can get in the way. Learn to be kind to yourself with your inner voice. Remember, small steps lead to big steps.
  6. Start writing in a journal. Instead of keeping thoughts and feelings inside, where they can build up and cause confusion and emotional/physical distress, get them out on paper. You can use a journal to keep track of relationship issues, health and emotional functioning. After a while make sure to look back at what your wrote. This will give a good measurement for how you were feeling, also take note of your environment. Did it play a role on your emotions?
  7. Avoid being self-critical. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to see that there are always choices. This will prevent you from feeling trapped and help you to feel optimistic about the future. Use positive self talk. This will help you feel better about yourself and your choices. This will also start to rewire the brain. This is something you will need to practice daily. Remember, the brain is a muscle and it needs to be conditioned.
  8. Feed your body nutritious foods. Studies have found that food effects your mood. Stay away from foods that are high in sugar and fast food. Neither of them have many nutrients that are good for you. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables and fruit. They are good in a meal or for a snack. Eat lean protein with your meals. Make sure you add some fat to your meal plan. Stick with the good fats, such as olive oil or avocados. This will help you feel full. You can have some carbohydrates. Stick with wheat rather than white bread.
  9. Take responsibility for your own life. Remember, you are driving the bus. Take time to listen to your inner voice. Start to learn how you were wired. Children are wired to please their parents. You don’t have to carry that into adulthood. Start to ask yourself, ‘who do you want to please?’ Take note as to what answers you get. Are you prone to want to please others? If the answer is yes, then as yourself why? Is there a cost to your own mental or physical health? If you answered yes, then you are letting others control you. Remember, life is about choices. You can make the best choice for yourself.
  10. Feed your spirit. This doesn’t mean you have to be religious. This is how you learn to reconnect with yourself. If you are like many, you are doing things for others. This might be how you experience validation. When you start to feed your spirit, you will feel the emotional benefits. You will help decrease emotional fatigue, because you are taking care of everyone else.
  11. Declutter your space. When you live in a space that is filled with clutter, your mind will begin to feel cluttered. This can cause you to feel overwhelmed. It should be easy to find things in your home. This doesn’t mean shove everything into a closet. If you aren’t using something, then you need to get rid of it. Donate it to charity. I’m sure someone could find a better way to use it. As you are clearing the space you live in, take note to how it effects your emotional health. You should feel the difference.
  12. Spend a little money on yourself. You buy for the children, your husband and the home. When was the last time you bought yourself something just because you wanted it? That’s right you didn’t necessarily need it, you just wanted it. Maybe that dress or necklace made you feel pretty. A day at the spa away from home can make you feel amazing. The effects of spending a little money on yourself can go a long way. You don’t always need to be so frugal.
  13. Set healthy boundaries for yourself. This means stop saying yes when you mean no. This will cause feelings of resentment. You won’t feel happy for others and their accomplishments, when you don’t have healthy boundaries. You also won’t feel good about yourself and your own accomplishments. When you set boundaries you will begin to feel happiness in your life. Even when you feel your accomplishments are small.
  14. Develop a healthy exercise program. This doesn’t mean that it has to be extreme exercise, or that you must workout three hours a day. You aren’t a professional athlete, and you shouldn’t have to feel like one. You can go for a 20 minute walk or go to a yoga class. You shouldn’t feel like you are competing with the person next to you. This can cause you to push yourself too much. This is when you are at risk of an injury. Exercise should be fun. Make sure you participate is classes that you enjoy, or exercise outdoors. You will also get natural sunlight, which has vitamin D. Exercise releases endorphins. This is where you experience the natural high of exercise.
  15. Take yourself out on a date. Whether you are in a relationship or not, it’s important to take yourself out. Take yourself to that new restaurant that you have been dying to try. Or, go to that new movie theatre that you thought was too expensive. Treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend. Buy yourself that expensive glass of champagne or wine. You can spend time outdoors or go wine tasting. Just be good to yourself. Don’t worry about what others are thinking or saying, worry about treating yourself good. Having a little alone time might be just what the doctor ordered. Make sure you take time to get ready to take yourself out. Treat it as if your husband were taking you out on your first date.

If you’ve read this far, then congratulate yourself for taking time for yourself. The next step is to pick a few of these ultimate self-care tips that you can start using today.

It doesn’t matter which one. By starting your ultimate self-care plan, you are making an investment in your emotional and physical health. You don’t always have to go at full speed. You shouldn’t be around people that are telling you that.

Take time to stop and smell the roses. Your mind and body will thank you for it. I have seen people transform their lives with and an ultimate self-care plan. If they can do it, so can you.

If you liked this article, there are more in Taking Care of Yourself. It is filled with self-care tips. They will help you create a more happier and successful life.

Lianne Avila is a Marriage & Family Therapist helping people in San Mateo, CA who are looking to create a life that is happier and more fulfilling. Please subscribe to Lianne’s newsletter on www.LessonsforLove.com to learn more about her services and expertise.

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