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Last Updated on July 4, 2019

12 Most Important Milestones in Life to Grow Through

12 Most Important Milestones in Life to Grow Through

Life truly is a journey. The experiences we have as we travel through our days are what give our lives richness, meaning and purpose.

We are all familiar with society’s conventional ‘markers’ of success and accomplishment – things like reaching the legal age to vote, getting your driver’s license and first car, graduating, getting married, becoming a parent, buying your first home, and retiring…

But society has changed; fewer people are choosing marriage, parenthood or a formal education. Many will never be able to afford to buy their own home, and retirement is no longer the guaranteed cushion it once was. How do we measure our success and progress without these once standard markers?

And what about all those moments that reveal our values, such as humility and acceptance, or that show us our greatness? They may be less spectacular or outwardly notable to others, but these markers often play a more significant role in defining our life values, our sense of self, and our place in the world.[1]

Let’s take a look at some of these important milestones in life, and the rich life lessons they have to teach us:

1. Opening Your First Paycheck

Opening your very first paycheck from your first real job is incredibly exciting. Even if the amount is paltry by anyone else’s standards, and even though it’s likely to be the smallest you’ll ever open, it’s yours.

You worked for it, earned it, and get to cash and spend it however you like. No other paycheck, no matter how large, will fill you with such pride and accomplishment.

Of course, once the initial excitement wears off, most of us are faced with the dawning realization of just how much everything costs.

But earning our own money can hopefully teach us responsibility, budgeting, and debt management. Earning and spending our own money can also show us a great deal about what we value in life.

2. Leaving Home

For most, leaving home is a bittersweet occasion. We feel excited to be free of the rules, restrictions and limitations of our parents’ ways, and to finally be striking out on our own. But we are likely also more than a little frightened and unsure of our ability to survive without the comfort and security that comes with being a child under those parental ‘wings’.

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When the reality of leaving home sets in, we have the opportunity to learn the valuable lessons of hard work (laundry, dishes, cooking), money management (I have to pay for heat?), and appreciation for our parents and family.

3. Falling in Love and Getting Your Heart Broken for the First Time

The many forms of love we are fortunate to experience throughout our lives will hopefully deepen and grow as we do, but there is nothing quite like the intense and absolute euphoria that first love brings.

We learn what it means to appreciate and focus on someone other than ourselves; and if we’re lucky, we get to experience how it feels to have someone appreciate and love us in return.

Of course, falling in love also opens us to the possibility of heartbreak, and the first time we experience it can be quite a painful and sobering shock.

But as with every life experience, there are gifts to be had in a broken heart – realizing you can and will overcome difficulties, and that time truly does heal all wounds.

4. Gaining Self-Awareness and Autonomy

This is a big one, though often it comes in incremental revelations rather than a lightning bolt of sudden understanding.

It comes in those moments when we realize we have dreams, interests and passions that are different from what is expected of us by our parents and society; or when we become aware of a value or belief that doesn’t match those of our peers, and that we didn’t know existed within us; or when we realize suddenly that we care less about what we look like or what clothes we are wearing, and more about who we are and how we feel.

If we’re lucky, we’ll come to this burgeoning self-awareness in our twenties. But for some, it comes later in life as a result of a painful event (divorce, losing a job, illness or injury), as a sudden realization that they are not living the life they want, or as an urge to reinvent themselves in some significant way (mid-life crisis).

Self-awareness is a never-ending unfolding of truth as it relates to our experience in life. We could all stand to increase it in key areas.[2]

5. Realizing Your Parents Are Real People

It’s quite a shock to realize that those people whose sole purpose you believed to be taking care of you, suddenly reveal themselves to be actual, whole individuals with hopes, dreams and fears of their own.

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For some, it can be quite disconcerting or even disappointing to see their parents in this new light; we have a tendency to put our parents on a pedestal, and view them as perfect or even godlike. When we become adults ourselves, and we see our parents making mistakes, failing or experiencing illness, it can shake our very foundation, and make us feel suddenly vulnerable and far too ‘grown up’.

Equally valuably, we may abruptly realize that our parents were not simply put on this earth to care for and cater to us, and that they have their own very complex and private lives that don’t involve us at all. This can teach us appreciation for all that they have done for us, and remind us to do for them in return.

6. Surviving Disappointment

Everyone’s got to go through this one for the first time. And it can be extremely unpleasant for those raised to believe they are only destined for happiness and success.

When we experience the sting of disappointment as adults, the experience often comes with a degree of lost innocence or naivety. We may have been led to believe that life would be easy, or that by simply being good people we would only experience good things.

And life is mostly easy and good. But not everything is going to turn out how we hoped or planned, and sometimes bad things happen to very good people.

When we first learn this through some significant disappointment – not getting that job we wanted, or not making the team, or not catching the eye of the person we adore – it can feel as though the whole world is suddenly against us, and that nothing can be counted on.

Experiencing disappointment is life’s way of teaching us to go with the flow and roll with the punches instead of expecting perfection or trying to control everything and everyone around us. It also teaches us that we are are more than the sum of our accomplishments.

7. Experiencing a Different Culture

Our first experience with an entirely different culture from our own often comes as a result of traveling outside our home country.

But it can also come about as a result of moving to a big city from a small town (or vice versa), or spending time with a family of a different ethnic or religious background from ours, or even going to a different part of our own city that perhaps we never knew existed.

However we first experience a way of life that is significantly different from our own, we are forever changed by it if we remain open to it. We gain perspective and appreciation for our own culture and environment, develop understanding, tolerance and compassion for those different from ourselves, and become inspired by new possibilities for how to live our lives.

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8. Doing Something That Terrifies Us

When we face a lifelong fear – skydiving, traveling alone, singing on stage, or speaking in public for example – we gain invaluable personal power and strength of character in the form of courage, will, confidence, and self-respect.

People who have overcome significant trauma or illness, and who have been able to turn it into a positive life lesson, also report these same gains.

And it needn’t be something huge to reap these rewards; even doing one small thing each day that pushes us outside of our comfort zone will net huge benefits in the short and long-term.

9. Dealing with the Death of a Loved One

This is something we must all face at one time or another in our lives, and the first time is always particularly challenging and life-altering.

Whether it’s the loss of a beloved goldfish in early childhood, or the deeper grief of losing a spouse, parent, child or family pet in our adult years, our first brush with death on this level can be extremely traumatic as we grapple with larger questions of our own mortality, the impermanence of life, and accepting the unknown.

10. Failing

Experiencing a critical or momentous failure is a life-changer for almost everyone.

Getting fired from a job we loved, the unwanted ending of a marriage or long-term relationship, not getting into that prestigious university program, or failing to make the cut in our chosen field of the arts, sports or entertainment can be devastating.

When we are forced to accept an outcome we did not want or choose in spite of our best efforts, it can feel as though we ourselves are not good enough.

But if we are courageous enough to accept and embrace our imperfections, and if we are willing to change course and adapt, we will be graced with resilience, strength and humility.

Perhaps the biggest key to learning from failure is the critical distinction that failure is a matter of personal interpretation. Once you learn to frame your failures properly, you know how to overcome them.[3]

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11. Hitting Rock Bottom

This is going to be different for everyone, but it’s potential impact on our lives is the same for all who face this heavy milestone.

Our personal low point could be as seemingly benign as dealing with any of the failures mentioned above, or it could be as low as anyone could possibly go, including signs of misanthropy or general hatred of humanity.[4]

It could be brought on through struggles with addiction, money troubles, loneliness and isolation, mental health issues, or illness and injury. It doesn’t discriminate: anyone from the loftiest, most beloved and popular to the lowliest and marginalized can experience being in this place of despair and hopelessness.

Hitting rock bottom can and does often prove to be a pivotal turning point in a person’s life, as they learn what is really important in life, and what they are truly capable of.

Humility, compassion for ourselves and others, perspective, strength, resilience, and a strong sense of purpose are just some of the many gifts they may choose to receive on their way back up.

12. Doing Something Selfless

When we are younger, by design we are focused on ourselves – on our own happiness, gains and security.

But as we mature, we begin to see the world through others’ eyes. We develop compassion. We fall in love. We feel joy and excitement for our loved ones’ accomplishments and happiness.

When we realize that we are doing something entirely for the benefit of another, we are be truly selfless and loving.

Volunteering, giving the gift of our time, attention or energy to another, helping make someone else’s dreams come true, or saving someone’s life are all examples of how we may express this more advanced type of love and compassion. In acting selflessly, we reap the immediate rewards of good feelings, and an increase in our own happiness.

The overarching and profound life lesson for this important milestone in life is a realization that we are all connected to one another, and that we are not alone after all.

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Featured photo credit: Søren Astrup Jørgensen via unsplash.com

Reference

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Mike Bundrant

Co-Founder @inlpcenter, which offers NLP training and life coach certification to students in over 70 countries.

10 Leadership Goals That Strong Leaders Set for Themselves 10 Reasons Personal Growth Is Important No Matter How Old You Are How to Get Motivated to Go to Work Every Single Day 9 Ways to Prepare for Change and Live Your Dream Life 12 Most Important Milestones in Life to Grow Through

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Last Updated on September 17, 2019

30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

I sat in the quiet, cold, white doctor’s office in Sydney, Australia. There was crinkly loud paper under my legs as I waited for my MRI results. I had been in pain for months and desperately wanted to know what was wrong. The doctor removed his glasses, pointed to the images, and told me I had a compressed disc in my lower back, narrowing of the spinal column and arthritis.

I was 21, living in a foreign country and alone. I burst into tears and all the worst-case scenarios ran through my head. He told me I could never run again, and worse, I would need to stop exercising completely for an indefinite period of time. Sports, activity, exercise, running, being athletic and adventurous – that was my identity and had been for most of my life. I went home and crawled in bed. I felt hopeless, defeated and depressed. My boyfriend at the time, now my husband, came over and tried to cheer me up. But it seemed nothing could do so.

My life as I knew it was over. If I couldn’t be an adventurous athlete, I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore.

This wasn’t the first time I had been told by a doctor never to run again. In fact, it was the fourth. The first was at the age of 16 after my first knee surgery to fix a torn meniscus. The second and third times were in college. Once was my sophomore year when I was training for a marathon. I have always wanted to run a marathon (and still do), but had to stop two weeks short of the finish line as I developed stress fractures in both of my femurs. The other, my junior year, I found myself on the surgery table, removing part of my meniscus. The doctor once again, as others before him, told me that I should never run again. I nodded my head, healed my knee, strengthened my leg in physical therapy and once again hit the pavement and the sports field.

Which leads us back to the doctor’s room in Sydney. This time it wasn’t my knee. It was my back. And the doctor told me if I chose not to listen this time, if I DID continue to run, that I could pinch a nerve, causing the potential for serious problems long term.

Pain I could handle, but the thought of being paralyzed, or worse, was not a risk I was willing to take. Continuing to ignore my doctor’s advice and push through the pain was not an option anymore.

It was time I started taking better care of myself and my body. It was time I learned what self-care looked like.

I hate the term self-care.

I have always cringed at the term self-care and therefore, any advice to follow it. Even today, the word still makes me uncomfortable. Something deep within me feels weak when I hear it; like I’m not tough enough or I can’t handle what life throws at me.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always been an athlete, or because I was raised in a fast paced, entrepreneurial family. At six-years-old, I remember walking behind my dad at the store. He kept a fast pace. I yelled ahead, “Wait up Dad, slow down!”. His reply, “Hurry up, speed up, catch up, run!”

So that’s what I did most of my life. I hurried up, sped up, caught up and ran. If I was in pain, I sucked it up and worked through it. If I was tired, I pushed through. If I was sad or upset, I pushed it aside and moved forward.

In my mind, self-care meant slowing down, not progressing; for those who couldn’t keep up. To use a term from my grandpa, I thought self-care was for ‘sissies.’

But what I didn’t realize until that wake-up call in the doctor’s office was that self-care is the very thing that allows us to do everything we want to do in and with our lives.

It is what gives us the energy, strength and resilience to keep going.

I want to emphasize something I wish someone had told me. Maybe someone did, but I needed them to take me by the shoulders, shake me, look me in the eye and say it.

Self-care isn’t for sissies. Self-care is not for the weak. It is not a luxury. And it is not selfish.

When you don’t take care of yourself, are too hard on your body, or don’t take care of your emotional needs, you are at much higher risk for burnout, a variety of mental health issues including anxiety and depression, physical injury and illness.

Not taking care of yourself will always catch up to you. Sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve had a wake-up call of your own.

Why Is Self-Care Important?

Self-care is quite literally taking care of yourself. It isn’t just about getting a massage. It is any action you take to preserve and improve your health, wellness, happiness and fulfillment.

We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” or “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” These are self-care. You cannot take care of others if you do not take care of yourself first. This takes on a whole new meaning when you also have kids and a family.

    self

    Self-care is doing what needs to be done so you can be balanced and energized to achieve all that you want out of life. Self-care nourishes your mind, body and spirit and allows you to thrive. It increases your happiness, ability to be successful and the quality of your life and relationships.

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    When I look at it that way, not as something for the weak, but as something to help us live our best lives, then instead of becoming an ‘nice to have’ it becomes an important and essential part of life. In fact, I now know it’s the only way to live my fullest life.

      That’s why I’ve pulled together 30 ways to practice self-care so you can live your best life. I’ve got you covered from an integrative wellness approach – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

      How to Practice Self-Care: 30 Ways to Take Care of Yourself

      Let’s start with the basics. These are self-care practices you can do daily. Many take very little time or energy, and most can be done in less than five minutes, some in less than one.

        1. Breathe

        Deep breathing increases circulation by bringing oxygen to your muscles and brain. This increased oxygen content leads to greater energy and healthier muscles, organs and tissues. Breathe deeply more often. What happened when you started to read this? Did you take a deep breath? Great, you’re already practicing self-care.

        2. Eat Well

        Your body is a machine and food is your fuel. Simple as that. I’ve learned two main things studying diets over the years and working with top health doctors:

        First, focus on eating real, whole, nutrient-dense food; avoid processed foods and refined sugars.

        Secondly, find what works for you. There are lots of options out there – pale0, Mediterranean, plant-based, you name it.

        3. Stay Hydrated

        The human body is composed of 50-65% water. Some parts of our bodies, like our brain, heart and lungs, are more than 70%. Drinking water is a simple, effective way to take care of yourself.

        Aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses daily. It takes no extra time, energy and effort, so grab a glass and start hydrating.

        4. Sleep

        I used to wear it as a badge of honor that I didn’t sleep much. However, increasingly more studies are coming out on the importance of getting enough quality sleep[1] and, more importantly, the consequences when you don’t. Make sleep a priority. Your mind and body will thank you.

        5. See Your Doctor

        How long have you been putting off making an appointment, tolerating constant pain or dealing with something that just isn’t right?

        Most things can be dealt with if they’re caught early – and are much harder to manage if you wait. Grab your phone, schedule an appointment now.

        6. Express Gratitude

        In order to live a life we love, we must first love the life we live. Research continues to surface on the science and benefits of gratitude.[2]

        Being grateful is one of the simplest, yet most powerful, things you can do to take care of yourself. Here’re 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

        7. Take Supplements

        Name what ails you and research or ask your doctor what vitamins, minerals, or herbs can support your health and well-being. For example, those with a B-12 deficiency are much more likely to experience anxiety and Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to all sorts of health problems.

        I take turmeric/curcumin to reduce inflammation,[3] and B2 and magnesium supplements recommended by my neurologist for hormonal migraines.

        Always make sure to check the quality and efficacy.

        8. Hug Your Kid, Spouse or Pet

        Hugging boosts your oxytocin levels (the love hormone), increases serotonin (elevates mood and creates happiness), strengthens the immune system, boosts self-esteem, lowers blood pressure, balances the nervous system and releases tension. Only a few seconds can put you in a positive mood.

          9. Meditate

          Yep, you knew this was coming, didn’t you? Check out how to meditate here . And, if you’re one of those people who think you can’t meditate (I feel you, I was one of you!), no more excuses. Try it.

          10. Get Bodywork

          I said that massage wasn’t the only form of self-care, but it is a good one!

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          Bodywork is a staple of my self-care routine. Our bodies store emotional tension in ways that we don’t even realize, and bodywork allows us to release that tension.

          Options include chiropractic, stretching, cranial-sacral therapy, myofascial release work, osteopathy and reflexology.

          11. Take a Hike

          Get the blood flowing. We all know the benefits of exercise. This might be a walk, run, hike, trip to the gym, yoga or stretching. Whatever you do, get your blood and body moving.

          Feel like you don’t have time? Try this short, 4-minute workout:

          12. Spend Time with Those You Love

          Schedule a date night with your partner, a special day with your kiddo or happy hour with your BFF. We are biologically hardwired for relationships and connection.

          Studies prove that people who socialize often have higher levels of happiness. This doesn’t have to be face-to-face; sometimes a phone call is all you need (and can fit in!).

          13. Take a Vacation (or a Staycation)

          More than 50% of Americans don’t use all of their vacation days. Take time off away from the routine of life. Make time to have fun, recover and reenergize.

          14. Do Something Just for Fun

          When was the last time you did something because it was fun or gave you joy? Not because it had a tangible benefit, purpose or ROI?

          Crank up the music and dance. Laugh with your kids. Head to the bowling alley. Play a game. Write. Buy flowers. Follow your passions. Attend a fun event.

          The real ROI? A better, more energized, happier self.

          15. Treat Yourself and Your Body

          When you look good, you feel good.

          Get a haircut, have your nails done, enjoy a facial, manicure or pedicure. When we take care of how we look physically, we feel better emotionally.

          16. Spend Time in Nature

          Studies have shown spending time in nature has a wide range of health benefits including lowering your stress hormone levels.[4]

          Get outside. Head to the forest, hit the beach or take a hike. Walking barefoot and ‘grounding’ can be especially healing.

            17. Eliminate Toxicity and Negativity

            Make a conscious effort to hang out with people who feed your soul and make you feel energized and alive. Eliminate or reduce the amount of time you spend with people and situations that drain you or leave you feeling exhausted.

            Surround yourself with love, encouragement and positive energy.

            18. Take a Bath

            This is a simple and inexpensive way to take care of yourself.

            Add in a little Epsom Salts, essential oils or that bath bomb you have lying around. Light a candle, sit back, relax and unwind.

            19. Practice Self-Reflection

            Self-reflection is about taking a step back and reflecting on your life, behavior and beliefs.

            Take time regularly to hop off the hamster wheel of life. Think about what’s working and what’s not, acknowledge your wins and successes; identify what to keep and what needs to change.

            Try journaling or check out tips for self-reflection here: How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life

            20. Feed Your Mind

            Learn something new! As humans, we have a need to use our full cognitive capacity. We are here to grow and evolve and learning is a huge piece of us feeling energized and alive.

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            Take a class or online course. Read a book. Listen to a podcast.

            21. Lend a Hand

            We also have a need for significance, contribution and making a difference. Among many other benefits , volunteering has been shown to help people feel healthier and happier.

            22. Unpack your Baggage

            Self-care is about taking care of your whole self. Often this means dealing with emotional trauma, past events or limiting beliefs.

            See a therapist. Talk to a coach. Have the conversation you need to have with that person you’ve been angry with for decades. Find a way to move forward.

            23. Be Adventurous

            Get outside your comfort zone. Be brave. Challenge yourself.

            Whether that be a backpacking trip, trying a new activity, or pushing yourself physically, mentally or emotionally, you’ll feel proud, confident and strong.

            24. Tidy up!

            There’s a reason Marie Kondo has become a sensation. When we seek minimization in our homes, schedules, and lives, we feel more at ease and less stressed.

            Try simplifying one area of your life and experience a new level of peace. Have a read on Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, it may inspire you a lot!

            25. Feed Your Spirit

            How are you feeding your soul? This can be anything that relates to you feeling inspiration which means, ‘in spirit’.

            Connect with what makes you feel close to something deeper, bigger, higher – or makes you feel more connected to yourself. This might include meditation, spiritual or religious study.

            26. Get Creative

            We all have a need to grow, use our creativity and express ourselves fully. Find your creative outlet. Paint, dance or take photos.

            Not artistically creative? Ask questions, problem-solve or build something.

            One of my daughters loves building. When she ideates, draws up plans and brings them to life, she is noticeably happier and more confident.

            27. Be True to Yourself

            Self-awareness and being true to yourself are essential to living a happy, fulfilled and successful life; therefore, these are critical elements of self-care.

            Listen to your inner voice. Identify what you need. When we are out of alignment with ourselves, we are more stressed, overwhelmed and at higher risk for health issues.

            Here are 11 ways to be true to you: How To Be True To You When Life Pulls You Off Track

              28. Set Boundaries

              This is important to healthy relationships, a strong sense of self-esteem and healthy life. You must know what you will and won’t accept.

              Identify where energy is leaking out from your life. If you continue to give when you have nothing to give or say ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’, you will continue to suffer.

              Know, acknowledge and honor your limits and boundaries – physically and emotionally.

              29. Escape

              While avoidance and numbing can be detrimental, a little escape can help recharge your batteries.

              So watch that reality TV show without guilt, catch the latest movie, delve into that novel, or head to the museum. What transports you and completely allows you to shut off?

              30. Be Nice to Yourself

              Be kind, patient and understanding. Treat yourself like you would a close friend. Speak to yourself as you would someone you love.

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              You are enough. You are doing enough.

              Give yourself a break, a little more love and a lot more compassion.

              You are doing a great job – time to tell yourself that.

              Start Taking Care of Yourself Now!

              Now you have 30 ways to take care of yourself! However, you may still have nagging thoughts in the back of your head about why you can’t.

              Ditch Your Excuses

              Here are the most common excuses I hear with a strategy to help:

              I don’t have time for it.

              How many hours per day do you spend watching TV or on social media? Some studies show that the average adult spends over four hours watching TV and over two on social media. What if you took just half that to take care of yourself? Or 1/10th?! We all have the same 24 hours in a day.

              It’s what you choose to do with that time that counts. Many of the suggestions above require no time at all. Take a breath, drink an extra glass of water, speak nicely to yourself, grab an apple.

              I don’t need it.

              Trust me, if you don’t take care of yourself now, you’re going to get that wake-up call one day, if you haven’t already.

              I guarantee it’s going to take a lot more time and energy to fix what’s broken than to take care of it along the way. You have a responsibility to do this for yourself.

              I’m too tired.

              Great! Take a nap. Then you’ve done your self-care for the day. No joke.

              Too often when we are tired, we drink coffee, reach for a sugary snack or find some other way to distract ourselves.

              Self-care is different from day to day. Some days it will be harder than others. Each of the items on the list are meant to GIVE you energy, not take it away. You’ll be amazed at how much more energized and awake you feel after one of these practices.

              It‘s just too hard.

              One big reason people don’t get started is because they think it’s going to be hard. Don’t fall into this trap and do nothing at all.

              Choose something that feels simple and easy to do – and do it. There is no step too small.

              Know Your Motivation

              It’s not the action of self-care that’s most important. It’s about what you get by taking care of yourself.

              What is the real value or importance of self-care in your life?

              To be a better mom, look good, be healthier, have more energy, reduce your stress levels, feel better, see your grandkids graduate from college, get that promotion, sustain the business you’re building, perform at your very best?

              Know your why so you can tap into the motivation for taking care of yourself. If you’re doing this because you ‘should’, it just won’t happen or be sustainable. You must do this because you see value, purpose and benefits at some level. What are those for you?

              Final Thoughts

              “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to life” – Jim Rohn

              Self-care is about doing what makes you feel good – mind, body and spirit.

              If you remember only one thing:

              Do more of what makes you feel good, brings you energy and joy and do less of what doesn’t.

              Had I taken better care of myself in my late teens and my early twenties, I might have avoided two knee surgeries, stress fractures and arthritis. Had I taken better care of myself in my thirties, perhaps I could have avoided anxiety and a near breakdown . But that was my journey and it led me here. And I have to say, I’m pretty happy where here is.

              So now, in my forties, while I still may cringe at the term, I pay attention to and practice self-care. And I often wonder if maybe, just maybe, I continue to take good care of myself, I may just be able to run that marathon one day after all.

              More About Practicing Self-Care

              Featured photo credit: Samantha Gades via unsplash.com

              Reference

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