In today’s always connected and always on world, it is easy to get so caught up in doing that you forget to relax. It doesn’t matter if you are a caregiver, an overachiever, or just over committed; if you don’t spend time on yourself on a regular basis you will soon find that you don’t have energy for anything. Burnout is a real concern for anyone who doesn’t take time for self-care.

Burnout is the extreme end of neglecting self-care and is to be avoided at all costs. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, forgetfulness, physical illnesses and poor emotional control. Before you get to this point, where the only things keeping you from getting fired are your emotional IQ and work ethic, take some time for yourself.

Self-care will be a little different for everyone because we all have different ways of relaxing. Extroverts might need some time spent with friends whereas introverts will most likely be curled up with a Netflix marathon. Whatever your favorite pastime is, the following three items are also necessary for effective self-care.

Sleep

While scientists are still trying to discover the exact purpose of sleep (after 100 years), there is one thing they can confirm: humans need sleep for emotional, mental and physical health. Without it, we have difficulty thinking and keeping our emotions in check. Other severe symptoms of sleep deprivation include hallucinations, disorientation, and paranoia.

Unfortunately, when you are running short on time to get everything done in a single day, you tend to shorten the amount of sleep you get. If you are regularly getting less than optimal sleep, you are setting yourself up for poor performance and emotional control.

Everybody needs a different amount of sleep. While there are a few individuals who function well on two or three hours, most people need between seven and nine hours a night. If you are unsure what your optimal amount is try getting eight hours a night for week, then adjust up or down as needed.

When you are getting enough sleep, you will be more energized, alert and positive throughout your day. Crises that occur during the day will seem simple to handle whereas before they might have pushed you into panic mode or a mental breakdown.

Exercise

Our bodies are meant to move. The health benefits of exercise have been well-documented. Exercise will help you stave off disease and unwanted weight, but there are also great mental health benefits. Studies have shown that exercise can help with depression and improve brain function.

Ask any of your friends who exercise regularly why they do it. Some might say they just do it to lose weight or stay in shape, but most will tell you how much better they feel after exercise.

Once again, personal preference plays a big role in choosing what kind of exercise will help you the most. Most scientific studies have used some type of aerobic exercise. However, if you are looking to unwind and destress, yoga might be the perfect option for you.

At least one study has also shown that exercising outdoors will help you even more than just being in the gym. For many people, connecting with nature is a natural relaxer, and if you can get your exercise outside, that is even better.

Gratitude

When you are in the midst of being too busy to think, you forget why you are doing all of this in the first place. Hopefully, you are working this hard for a reason. When you stop to list everything you are grateful for, it will remind you why you’re doing so much. It will also help you remember the good things you have in your life.

It is hard to be angry or stressed when you are giving thanks for having food on the table, people or pets who care about you, or the friendly smile the cashier gave you at the convenience store. Gratitude is a powerful tool for anyone in your self-care toolbox.

Getting enough sleep, exercising, and practicing gratitude will go a long way towards helping you take good care of yourself. The final piece of the puzzle is to find that one thing that you love doing and helps you recharge. It might be as simple as reading a book or playing with the dog. It might be doing something creative. Whatever it is for you, take time every week to do it. You have to be physically and mentally healthy to be able to give your best to all of the other people and commitments in your life.

Guide to Inspired Life