When you’re deep in the weeds and feeling stressed, it can be tempting to cancel your appointments and stay locked in your office grinding, cancel plans with friends, and sleep through your early morning alarm rather than hit the gym. I am here to tell you, this is actually the most important time to buck up and resist the urge – self-care is not a luxury, it’s critical for your health!

Take care of your mind.

Let’s make mental health stigma a thing of the past. Be intentional about taking care of your mental health by seeing a mental health counselor or therapist. You don’t need to be in crisis – this can be a powerful way to navigate life’s challenges as they arise. 

If therapy isn’t your thing, try journaling. It’s remarkably impactful! Surround yourself with 2-3 accountability partners who will challenge you to be better – who won’t just pump you up but who will hold up a mirror to show you areas of opportunity and growth. Consider having a place of faith, somewhere you can go for spiritual growth and development. 

Don’t do life alone.

Set aside time for reflection. Set a goal to schedule 15 minutes, either at the beginning or end of the week. Use this appointment with yourself to “think about your thinking.” 

According to the National Institute of Health, a large part of our population is “languishing.” Languishing is the feeling that you have not accomplished anything or are not successful. Languishing leads to depression. How many people are languishing right now? 

Make an appointment with yourself and keep it.

Take care of your body. 

Invest in your physical health. Get a workout in or get a massage. This doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny – it can be as simple as jogging, brisk walking, taking a scenic stroll along a lake, visiting a park, spending some time outdoors. Just make sure you are taking part in some physical activity to stay healthy. I recently joined a high-intensity gym and, believe me, there are times that I want to skip my workout. Then I remember that by taking care of myself I am actually prolonging my life. 

You are what you eat. 

Be careful of what you eat, as it is truly the fuel of life. Become very intentional about eating the right way. I’ve noticed a change in my energy level since I dumped the unhealthy foods and started drinking more water and eating more vegetables (I’m even juicing!). 

I’m actually not a fan of vegetables. I was the kid who used to spit my squash out into my napkin and hide it from my mother, who of course knew exactly what was going on. Now I know why you just need to eat the vegetables: Eating properly gives you the fuel you need to do life! These days I examine everything I eat and drink and ask myself, “Is this fueling my life? Am I eating the right balance of foods and amounts to accomplish my health goals?”

Be aware that you might experience some pushback – pushing yourself back from the table, that is!

Friends, the bottom line is this: Until you love yourself, you can’t truly love others. Loving yourself means taking care of your physical, mental, nutritional, and spiritual self. When you love yourself, you’ll do these things, which in turn will enable you to love yourself and others.