I can’t stress enough how important self-care is for a well-balanced life. There are so many benefits that come from doing activities that take care of you that I can’t even name them all, but let’s start with a few: lowered stress levels, better mental and physical health, improved relationships, better communication, increased self-knowledge, the ability to care for others, good decision-making skills, and a general sense of well-being. All of that from finding ways to be good to you!

Of course, some of these may be more obvious than others, like the benefits for yourself, but how does taking care of me benefit others? When our needs are met, we have the ability to truly meet the needs of others. We don’t feel resentment because we are missing out on something. We don’t feel put out because we are giving up something in order to give it to someone else. We feel gracious and kind towards others when we know that we have the energy and time reserves we need because we have been doing good things for ourselves.

Think of how different your communication skills are when you’ve had a good night’s sleep and plenty to eat and are generally feeling content in comparison to when you are tired or hung over and haven’t yet had lunch and feel pretty negatively towards the world. Imagine how you talk to yourself in each of these different modes and how you come across to others. Now imagine that you could be more like that first example almost every day because you are getting enough sleep and taking care of your own needs.

So how do you make that happen? Start with what you do every day without even thinking about it that makes your day run smoothly. Do you exercise? Do you eat healthy meals? Do you spend time with people who support and care about you? Do you meditate or pray? Do you find time to indulge in little things that make you feel good (linger over a cup of coffee, nibble on good chocolate, watch a favorite show or sport, take a walk, etc.)? If you do some of these things or other, similar things, remind yourself that you are doing this to take care of yourself. Just thinking about it as I was writing it made me smile!

If you are doing any of those things or anything similar, expand on it. Walk for an extra 5 minutes, play a musical instrument three times a week instead of just two, eat one more healthy meal, drink more water. It doesn’t matter how you expand, just find a way to do a little bit more.

If you aren’t doing any of those things, choose one and start it. Do it once a week or twice a week at first. Sometimes starting small is the best way to do it because if we mess up, we can always pick it back up and start again without too much trouble. And if we are looking to change anything over the long term, it’s best to incorporate new things into what we are already doing instead of making a sea change.

Finally, find a way to add one more thing, however small, to your day—or your week–that is just for you. You and the people in your life will be happy that you did!