8 Ways to Support Yourself

Self-care means different things to different people, but the basic idea behind it is straightforward: we all need to take care of ourselves, no matter how much work or stress we have on our plates. 

But even though self-care seems like an easy and obvious concept, it can still be hard to put into practice when you’re struggling with mental health issues or life’s every day pressures (and let’s face it, sometimes life just sucks). Here are some ideas on how to support yourself when you need it most.

1) Remember who you are

Having a positive self-image is key for your success, both in terms of being able to support yourself and in terms of leading a more successful life. If you don’t like yourself, you’re less likely to put any effort into improving your life.
 So start by finding small things about yourself that are already worth supporting and build from there. Once you have a strong sense of who you are—your strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes—you can use it as motivation for reaching bigger goals.

2) Accept yourself

This sounds too simplistic, but it’s true. Accept yourself for who you are and what you look like now, not for who you used to be or what you wish you looked like. Don’t beat yourself up over past choices or make future plans based on changing your body – accept it for where it is today and stop worrying about tomorrow.
 Surround yourself with supportive people: Surrounding yourself with people who love and accept themselves will help influence how you see yourself. You’ll feel more comfortable being your own person in their company. Learn to say no: It can be a challenge if others want us to do things that don’t align with our personal values, especially when they’re pressuring us because they think we should do them.

3) Remember your worth

Self-worth should be a no-brainer. If you believe in yourself, if you know that you’re smart and capable, then it’s hard to see why anyone would disagree. But when we feel like our worth is being challenged—when we feel disrespected or devalued—the value of what we bring to an organization can get lost in translation. 
Or we might be so used to having these conversations with ourselves that they become self-fulfilling prophecies: We give up before anyone else has a chance because deep down inside, we don’t really believe in ourselves.

4) Express yourself in ways that don’t harm others

We’re all tired. We all get upset and stressed. And it can be hard to admit when we’re in a funk, because nobody wants to be around someone who seems down or defeated. But that’s what makes having our own supportive community so vital—it allows us to take care of ourselves and each other at times like these. 
Don’t let negative emotions linger; it’s okay to ask for help if you’re feeling discouraged or overwhelmed by stress (and make sure you listen when others ask for help!). If you’re having a rough day, here are some activities that may help.

5) Take time for fun

When your schedule is packed and you feel like you’re going nonstop, it can be hard to carve out time for yourself. But if you don’t make an effort, it’s all too easy to wind up feeling burned out. One simple way to support yourself as an entrepreneur is by making sure that you take some time for fun—every day. 
So before you hit send on that email or call a client back, take a quick break from your workday and have some fun! Kick off those shoes, grab a cup of coffee and doodle on your iPad or jot down a few lines in your journal about something silly that happened today.

6) Express your gratitude

Listing three things you’re grateful for each day can go a long way towards improving your mental health. Not only that, but it can actually make you happier overall—studies have shown gratitude can boost your sense of wellbeing, improve social relationships and increase sleep quality. Start by writing down three things you’re grateful for at night before you go to bed. 
You may even want to consider adding an element of spirituality by trying an exercise like Buddhist-style journaling or setting aside time to pray. The important thing is that it feels personal and meaningful to you, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different strategies until you find one that works best for you.

7) Help others

Helping others makes us happier and more fulfilled than focusing on ourselves. In fact, 80% of Americans say volunteering is important to them (compared with 66% who say having a successful career is important). So why not give back? 
There are many organizations that could use some help from you; even if it’s just once or twice a month, setting aside time for those who need it will make you feel better about yourself and your place in society. For example, spending even just an hour a week mentoring youth is linked with higher levels of happiness and wellbeing. You’ll also learn new skills—and come away feeling more prepared for whatever life may throw at you next.

8) See a therapist or counselor

You don’t have to be clinically depressed or anxious to benefit from seeing a professional. A therapist or counselor can help you learn coping strategies for dealing with daily stressors and challenges. If you do suffer from an anxiety disorder, seeing a therapist may be especially important as one study found that people who saw a therapist were 40% less likely to die during a 10-year follow-up period than those who didn’t see one. 
This finding persisted even after adjusting for chronic illnesses, social isolation, poverty and so on. Seeing someone once in awhile is also beneficial if your life has undergone stressful changes like moving or losing your job.

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