These 4 Basic Self-Care Habits Help Protect My Energy

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Raise your hand if you are tired. Yea, I see you, sister.

My hand is up in the air, too.

Why does it feel like we are trying to run a daily obstacle course on nothing but fumes? Emotional distress is at an all-time high for most of us since the pandemic.

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Financial fears grow like late afternoon shadows, waiting to jump out at us when we least expect them.

Middle-aged women are trying to balance work, home, and life with teens and, often, caring for aging parents. Sometimes, all of these responsibilities fall within the same 24-hour window!

No wonder we are tired and pudgy and just want to numb out with a bag of chocolates and Netflix!

We keep the bouncing balls of responsibility circling over our heads, ignoring our increasing need to rest our minds and refresh our souls.

I didn’t go to “juggling school,” did you? Maybe that’s why I am such a terrible juggler.

So what is the solution?

I am confident that you already have a pretty good idea of what you need to do. Your body and spirit have been telling you for years that things must change.

“If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.”

Joyce Sunada

 Friends, it’s time to get serious about prioritizing self-care. Self-care is essential for managing stress, maintaining healthy habits, and fostering personal interests.

I know you don’t have time or money for overpriced B.O.-infused hot yoga, creepy “vampire facials,” or attending woodland retreats with other women for the sole purpose of releasing a primal scream.

Frankly, those things wouldn’t be on my list even if I had the money.  

So, in an effort to honor practicality and reality, here is a list of basic, not bougie, self-care suggestions.

Here are ten practical tips to help you prioritize your emotional well-being:

The Basics

Be Aware Of Your Thoughts

Mindfulness techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises can help you stay grounded and present. Even just a few minutes of mindfulness practice each day can significantly reduce stress levels and improve mental clarity.

Practice the skill of challenging your inner critic. Be aware when you are talking unkindly to yourself. Acknowledge that you might have trained your mind to be “mean to yourself” when you feel disappointed, hurt or anxious.

Choose to re-focus your thoughts on things that are happy, enriching, or beautiful. Look for those three qualities in your day and speak them aloud.

For example: Look at that beautiful butterfly! How lucky am I to see this butterfly out in the world, focusing its energy on visiting the beautiful flowers.

Encouraging your soul to speak even the smallest speck of joy out loud is healing.

Hurt People Hurt People

You have heard it before, hurt people hurt people.

There is a moment in life when you give up on certain people. I know it sounds terrible, but frankly, there are just folks that will never change. ( I can say this because I am a trained Marriage and Family Therapist)

We can love them, but we don’t have to allow them to steal our energy.

If it makes you feel better, go ahead and do all the things to try and make the relationship work. Go to therapy, create better communication, pay off the shared credit card. Those are all good things, no matter what else is happening in life.

But sometimes, it’s just time to say “no more.” Define a clear boundary to protect your time, energy, and mental health.

Learn to say no without guilt. Establishing boundaries is crucial for protecting your time and energy. Identify activities or commitments that drain you and consider whether they are necessary.

Move It or Lose It

Want to live a long and fairly happy life?

Exercise is required.

You are gonna need to sweat, friend.

There is a mountain of clinical evidence that exercise is life-saving. Unless you choose to perform really risky types of exercise, like swimming with hungry sharks or climbing up a vertical cliff with your bare hands, moving your body saves your life.

Physical activity is a powerful stress reliever. The basics suggest that you aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Whether it’s walking, dancing, or joining a fitness class, find an activity that you enjoy and make it a regular part of your routine.

When it feels impossible to get up and start your exercise, return to our thought exercise from point #1. Try using these thoughts to help you get moving:

  • I will move my body for just 10 minutes.
  • I will not judge my energy level today; I will give as much effort as I am able.
  • I am thankful that I can do this type of movement.
  • I know that movement helps my mental health stay balanced.

Choose a positive and true statement to focus on when you need a little extra “oomph” to start your workout.

Don’t Treat Your Body Like a Garbage Dumpster

Stop eating like a carefree raccoon at midnight, putting whatever you can grab into your mouth!

Yup, it’s pretty much that simple.

Choose whole foods that are as close to their original form as possible.

Some nutritionists offer this advice: Eat healthy 80 percent of the time. The remaining 20% will work itself out.

You already know that what you eat can directly impact your mood and energy levels. Focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

As much as we love caffeine and sugar, those bad boys will set you up for an energy crash and mood swings!

You are what you eat. Undeniable life truth.

Are You Ready To Go Beyond The Basics?

I have six more tips to help you improve your life and reduce stress. Consider them suggestions; you can add them once you feel the energy to focus on further personal growth.

  • Prioritize Sleep
  • Quality sleep is essential for emotional well-being. Create a relaxing bedtime routine and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Limit screen time before bed and create a dark, quiet, and comfortable sleeping environment.
  • Cultivate Personal Interests
  • Engage in hobbies or activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Whether it’s painting, gardening, reading, or learning a new skill, make time for pursuits that nourish your soul.
  • Connect with Others
  • Strong social connections are vital for emotional health. Make time for family and friends, join social groups, or participate in community events. Meaningful interactions can provide support and a sense of belonging.
  • Practice Gratitude
  • Taking time each day to reflect on what you’re grateful for can shift your focus from stress to positivity. Keeping a gratitude journal or sharing your thoughts with a loved one can enhance your emotional resilience.
  • Seek Professional Help When Needed
  • Don’t hesitate to seek support from a mental health professional if you’re struggling with stress or emotional challenges. Therapy or counseling can provide valuable tools and strategies for managing life’s ups and downs.
  • Schedule “Me Time”
  • Regularly set aside time just for yourself. Use this time to relax, reflect, and recharge. Whether it’s a long bath, a walk in nature, or simply sitting quietly with a cup of tea, make “me time” a non-negotiable part of your routine.

Remember, when we are overwhelmed we tend to look for the path of least resistance. If you have been living in a state of overwhelm, you might be struggling to get back on a healthy self-care track.

Or maybe you have never taken the time to establish a reasonable, effective self-care commitment.

We need to let go of the idea that self-care has to be expensive, exotic or extravagant. When we create unreasonable expectations of self-care, we are more likely to feel frustrated and blocked by the obstacles of time, finances, and availability.

Self-care for middle-aged women should be accessible, easy, and affordable. Don’t let the “idealized” images and articles on social media convince you otherwise.

The Bottom Line

By incorporating these self-care practices into your daily life, you can better manage stress, maintain healthy habits, and nurture your emotional well-being. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury—it’s necessary to live a balanced and fulfilling life.

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Melane Ann is a writer, blogger, and life coach. In 2020, she turned her experience in midlife divorce and creating a new life for herself into midlifeismagical. With a master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Melane focuses on helping women over 50 navigate their relationships and commit to healthy aging. She and her new husband share 7 children between them. Melane jokes that she has a black belt in blended families! In addition to her writing, Melane works virtually with her coaching clients from her home office.

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