With anxiety affecting 18.1 percent of the US population¹, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself in our busy, fast-paced society.
Devoting some time to your own needs prevents tiredness and stress from leading to exhaustion, burnout or other conditions in the longer term.
Here are three aspects of self-care you may be neglecting and how paying them more attention is a good investment in your future.
Managing your finances is an essential act of self-care, especially if you only have a little money.
In Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker emphasizes the importance of learning to manage your money before increasing your income. He says:
“You must acquire the habits and skills of managing a small amount of money before you can have a large amount.”
Even if you have just one dollar a month to manage, T. Harv Eker says it’s important to manage that dollar. He advises managing each dollar in the following way:
- 50 cents on essential spending (including mortgage or rent, food, utilities, etc)
- 10 cents on fun spending — this can be spent on anything that brings you joy without feeling guilty
- 10 cents on financial freedom — this money is saved and invested with aim of securing your financial freedom in future
- 10 cents on long-term savings for spending — this is your emergency fund. You can dip into it if your car has to be repaired or your roof needs fixing.
- 10 cents on educating yourself — this can be on courses that will help you change career, set up a profitable business or invest your money.
- 10 cents on giving to charities, good causes and people in need.²
If you have debts, set up a debt repayment plan as quickly as possible, so that you’ll become debt-free at some point in the future. At the same time, manage the rest of your money.
If you have little or no savings, build up your savings by setting up automatic transfers into your financial freedom and emergency fund accounts each month on pay day.
The amount of money you save isn’t important. The important thing is starting and continuing the good habit of paying yourself first.
Also, set aside at least an hour a week to catch up with your finances. During this time:
- Look at your spending over the past week. Were you under-budget, on budget or over-budget? Can you make any changes to your spending in the next week based on your analysis of your spending in the last week?
- Try to transfer some extra money to your financial freedom and long-term savings for spending accounts, even if it’s just a small amount. This should be in addition to the regular amounts you save each month. Try to make a game of finding extra money to save. I put my spare change and any other coins I find into a financial freedom jar sitting on my desk.
- Look at the progress of your savings and see if it would be a good idea to transfer them to an account with higher interest, for example.
- Consider investing at least a small amount of money, perhaps using an app such as Acorns or Betterment.
If you manage your finances well, you’ll not only be taking good care of yourself on a day to day basis, but you’ll also be working towards a debt-free, prosperous future. You’ll achieve financial freedom at an earlier age.
Your Mental Health
We hear a lot about taking care of our physical health by eating healthy food, getting enough exercise and so on, but taking care of our mental health is just as important.
Tiredness, stress, anxiety and worry can all chip away at our mental health over time. If we don’t do something about them, they may lead to a lack of motivation, burnout, depression and other conditions.
So, how can you take care of your mental health? Here are some suggestions:
- Write about your fears, worries and other concerns in a journal or share them with a person you trust
- Follow a guided meditation — many are available to download from websites such as Headspace and Into Deeper Waters
- Read an inspiring book
- Practice mindfulness at different points in the day.
Put your phone on silent and leave it in another room while doing these activities. It’s important to focus on them alone.
Try to spend at least 20 minutes a day taking care of your mental health. See if you feel calmer after a few weeks.
With anxiety and depression on the rise, it’s more important than ever to make looking after your mental health a daily habit.
Do you feel well-rested when you wake up most mornings? If you feel tired, sluggish and unmotivated, it might be because you’re not having enough sleep.
On average, an adult aged between 18 and 64 needs seven to nine hours sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation, while those aged 65 and over need seven to eight hours sleep.³
If you’re getting less sleep than this and don’t feel at your best during the day, bring your bedtime forward by 15 minutes every few days until you’re sleeping for enough time.
If you find it difficult to drift off to sleep, try a new way of unwinding, such as:
- Having a relaxing bath
- Doing gentle yoga exercises
- Applying essential oils to your temples, wrists and the soles of your feet
- Reading a print book in bed.
If you’re still having trouble sleeping, the smartphone by the side of your bed could be the reason. It could be keeping you awake even if you don’t look at it.
Your subconscious mind may be wondering if anyone has contacted you or responded to an email or something you posted.
Try leaving your phone in another room and using an alarm clock to wake you up. See if your sleep improves.
Taking Better Care of Yourself is an Investment in Your Future
If you lead a hectic, fast-paced life, it can be difficult to find the time to take care of your finances and your mental health, and to sleep for long enough.
However, you can’t afford to neglect these aspects of self-care. Your future self will thank you for the time you invest in them now.
See where you can free up some time and schedule about an hour a week for taking care of your finances (perhaps on a Saturday morning with your favorite coffee) and at least 20 minutes a day for looking after your mental health (perhaps soon after you get up or just before bed). Adjust your bedtime if necessary and make changes to your bedtime routine.
See if you feel calmer and more in control of your life after a few weeks.