Truth be told - I normally hate reading posts like this!
So often full of airy-fairy, non-practical fluff or suggestions that take massive amounts of time (which, busy lady, I know you don’t have) or massive amounts of money (which you’d rather spend elsewhere).
So why the heck am I writing one?
Because I know that self-care - looking after yourself - is often pushed w-a-y down your list of priorities. I know it is on mine! I get my hair done regularly (truth be told - I’m really grey!) and I’m trying to make sleep a priority. But I couldn’t tell in what year I last had a massage or a facial.
But I also know the more you look after yourself - mentally and physically, the better you are at everything else in your life.
I know I’m a better, calmer, happier and more supportive wife, step-mum, daughter, sister, friend and coach when I look after myself. I can’t give the important people in my life - my family, friends and athletes - my best when my tank is empty.
So here are 18 ways you can look after yourself a little more today. They won’t take a great deal of time or money but they will set you up for success in your health and fitness goals and greater happiness in your life.
1. Get 8 hours sleep
I know you’ve heard this a thousand times but I’ve made it #1 on this list because of it’s importance.
An inability to lose weight, fitness levels that have plateaued, if you're always getting sick or suffering from cold sores, you look in the mirror and think "shit, I look old", you're snapping at the kids, reaching for the chocolate when you hit the wall at 3pm and in a thousand other ways, a lack of sleep impacts on your mind and body.
Now, before you scoff or roll your eyes, ask yourself - what would I need to change to get 8 hours sleep each night?
Do you need to turn the TV off after dinner (and no, falling asleep on the couch doesn’t count!)? Have a warm shower? Turn off Facebook? Leave your phone in another part of the house? Get into bed with a book rather than your phone? Prioritise sleep over Facebook or catching up on mindless TV shows?
Whatever it is, I know you’ll feel, act and be far better off in the long run.
2. Identify one of your “stories”
And, most important, re-write it today.
(Especially if it’s about how much sleep you need or can get!).
We’ve all got dozens of fear-based stories about what we can or can’t do. Just pick one and re-write the script by coming up with an alternate story today.
The problem with these stories is that the more often you repeat them to yourself, the more you begin to believe them. So you need to change the stories you tell yourself before you'll change what you believe.
Whether it’s to a charity, leaving your change from your morning coffee as a tip for your barista or some other random act of kindness, giving makes you feel good - and we all need a bit more of that in our day.
4. Ask for help with your training
And hire a coach.
Stop getting frustrated with your lack of improvements and telling yourself that you'll never be a good runner / cyclist / swimmer / climber etc and get some help.
5. Read for 30 minutes each day
And no, I don’t mean Facebook 🙂
Broaden your mind and find some inspiration; there are plenty of great books about female athletes and role models to choose from. Try this one or this one or this one or perhaps this one. Check out this magazine too.
If you need some recommendations, just ask!
6. Use a foam roller to reduce your injury risk
If you can’t afford a weekly massage (and even if you can!), using a foam roller to iron out the tight and tender spots in your body is one of the best ways you can reduce your risk of injury.
Less injuries -> more consistent training -> faster improvements in your fitness and strength!
Even if you don’t have much time today, just take 5 minutes and roll one part of your body. Here's an article I wrote explaining how.
Perhaps work on your tight calves today - especially if you’ve been wearing heels or sitting at a desk or in a car. Tomorrow, roll your quads (thighs). Just one tip: a foam roller isn’t a rolling pin. You aren’t rolling out pastry. So go s-l-o-w and when you find a tight spot, stay on it for around 30 seconds before moving on.
7. Whose opinion matters?
This comes from Brené Brown and is one of the most powerful things I’ve done when the fear of what others think threatens to overwhelm me or worse — stop me from doing something I want to do.
Write down on a (small) piece of paper the names of the people whose opinion matters. Quite simply, if someone isn’t on the list, their opinion doesn’t matter and you shouldn’t use the fear of what they might think to hold you back.
8. Join our #10kStrongWomen campaign
Have you heard about our #10kStrongWomen campaign yet?
It's our mission to encourage, support and inspire 10,000 women over the next 10 years to achieve a new goal in their life.
It’s a powerful way for each of us to be proud of our achievements and to inspire other women to realise that you can lead a brave, gutsy, determined and goal-orientated lifestyle without sacrificing yourself, nor is it selfish to do so. In fact it makes you a much calmer, happier and better wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.
9. Reality check your fears
We all over-dramatise our stories - I’ll die from embarrassment, I’ll drown during the race, I hate hills, I’ll never be a good runner.
The next time you catch yourself slipping into those phrases, challenge yourself to ask: what’s the worst that could happen?
It’s amazing how much less power and fear those stories generate when you stare them down with your best resting bitch face 🙂
10. Build your (support) network
As someone who prefers to train alone, I’m not going to say you must find a training buddy (that would be hypocritical coming out of my mouth fingers).
Instead I suggest you find something to hold you accountable.
Or it might also be a friend or work colleague; someone you can share your journey with. You don’t have to train together but having someone ask whether you’ve done what you’ve said you’re going to do can be a powerful motivator when it’s hard to get out of a warm bed in the morning or off the couch at night.
11. Get the girls fitted
Apparently up 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra — so most of us support our girlfriends better than we support our boobs!
I know I certainly was before I threw myself at the mercy of the staff in a Victoria’s Secret store on a recent trip to the States.
Get fitted by a professional. Your clothes will fit better and you’ll feel more confident in your own skin. So get the girls up!
12. H20 - boring but powerful
I’ll be the first to say - I hate drinking water. Always have. It’s a real struggle for me to drink any water (other than coffee!) each day.
But having seen videos as part of my studies about the impact that drinking water has at a cellular level in your body and I’m a convert. So drink girl, drink.
Not only will it help to avoid the dreaded 3pm energy slump but it has magical anti-ageing abilities too!
13. Say thank you
Send a card, buy some flowers or just give someone a call and tell them why they are important to you.
You’ll feel good and you’ll make their day - perhaps even their week and month!
14. Quit Overthinkers Anonymous
“Hi, my name is Jen and I’m a serial over-thinker”. I overthink, overanalyse, way up the pros and cons to the point that I’m exhausted, confused, overwhelmed and anxious.
But I’ve realised over the years that over-thinking and over-analysing doesn’t cure fear. In fact, it often increases it!
Because when you’re stuck in “overthinking” mode, you tend to come up with a long list of things that might or could go wrong.
The only thing that gets you out of the cycle, out of your head and out of the anxiety is action. Break the cycle by actually doing something about the situation and you’ll free yourself from your fear.
15. Trust your gut instinct
Whatever you call it - gut instinct, intuition, God. Use it and trust it.
Your gut instinct and intuition has been highly refined over thousands of years. It kept your ancestors alive when being eaten by a sabre-tooth tiger was a real possibility.
These days it can keep you safe at night but it’s also a highly useful tool to tap into when making important decisions. When you’re an over-thinker (see above), you can fool yourself into thinking you can rationalise the right decision.
But your gut instinct always knows. It’s that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you make a decision or agree to a commitment and suddenly feel resentful, annoyed or deflated. So use it and trust it.
16. Get checked (this is really important!)
Is your pap smear up to date? Do you need to have a mammogram?
Have you had your girls or your sun spots, moles and skin checked recently?
You can’t help your family if you’re sick. Besides, if you’re an over thinker (see above - are you sensing a theme here?) you probably have at some stage convinced yourself you’ve got a terrible illness.
The lack of knowledge is more fuel on the anxiety-fire. Get tested, get checked and get the facts (rather than telling yourself even more stories).
17. Laugh 'til it hurts
Laugh till your stomach muscles hurt, you snort, tears fall from your eyes and you’re at risk of peeing your pants.
Life is too short not to laugh - I’m sure the Chewbacca Mum agrees (this video still makes me laugh
18. Quit dreaming & start planning your bucket list
We’ve all got things on our “bucket list” that we’ll do “one day”.
But guess what?
One day will never come. You need to start making plans now. So this week, decide on one thing that’s on your bucket list and write down a plan to bring that to fruition.
If it’s a trip to see the Pyramids in Giza, pick a year, write it in your phone. Download a picture from the interweb, print it and stick it on the fridge. Then work out how much you’ll need to save for the whole trip and how much you need to save each week (even if it’s only $20), open up a separate bank account and transfer your $20 today.
Dreams are great - I love them as much as the next person - but they need action otherwise they are just pipe dreams.
Of course you don’t have to do everything on this list; just pick one or two you think you need to focus on (I’m sure there’s at least one that jumped out at you).
The key, to everything in life, of course is to take action.
Do one of these things today and let me know how it goes.
Is there something else you’d had to this list? Leave a comment below and let me know.