At some point or another, we’ve all felt as though we’re going through our days on autopilot, barely able to catch our breath and notice what’s happening around us. When those moments happen, it’s only natural that we foster feelings of stress, overwhelm, or even depression. We all want to feel happy, and enjoy our days, but sometimes we get so wrapped up in life that we lose sight of who we are, what we are doing and what makes us happy. It’s when we’re truly able to pause for a moment, and gain some introspection, do we realize, we must do better for ourselves if we want to have a happy, healthy, balanced life.

You have to make a determined, consistent effort to be at your best, and that means taking charge of your wellbeing. Taking proper care of yourself doesn’t stop at diet and exercise. Your total wellness also includes your mental and emotional health, which is too often neglected or ignored. How you think and feel about yourself and the world around you has a significant impact on your mood, your attitude, and your overall outlook on life. Since it seems that life never gets less busy, it’s up to you to embrace everyday moments of wellness and self-care, and actually follow through with making it a part of your daily life.

Self-care goes beyond candles, face masks, and bubble baths, although those activities do serve a purpose. Self-care is a commitment to love yourself enough to be your best self. At its core, the self-care movement is about refocusing and recentering self, and incorporating activities or habits that make you feel good, inside and out. It’s a way to restore your mental and emotional energy and recommit to knowing your self-worth. Neglecting these personal moments of self love, and not giving enough attention to your own needs will eventually leave you feeling stressed, tired, overwhelmed, anxious, etc.

The good thing about prioritizing yourself is that you don’t need to rearrange your entire life to do so. Just committing small acts of care, and becoming self aware of the responsibility you have to yourself, will allow you to see positive improvements in your mood and behavior. Creating small, intentional habits, like those listed below, will help you feel calmer, boost your happiness, and improve your mental health.

Take Ownership of Your Emotions

Before you can solve an issue, you must first become aware that a problem exists. The same goes for improving your health and wellbeing. Self-awareness is key, and can dramatically change your outlook and improve your mental wellbeing. Take a moment to step back and truly observe your thoughts and feelings as they unfold. Some people spend more energy avoiding or ignoring their emotions than actually confronting them and accepting them. It can be as simple as noticing the emotions that you feel when you spend time when you complete specific tasks, or hang out with certain people. What thoughts run through your head, or what feelings come over you when you go through your day.

These are important to know because it helps you understand what changes must take place in order for you to grow and be a happier, more emotionally intelligent version of yourself. After all, you can’t change what you don’t know about. So let your guard down, and give yourself the grace and privilege of feeling your feelings. Many of our physical, mental and personal problems come from our inability to adequately experience and express our emotions. By becoming self-aware of how your body responds to emotional or mental triggers you can better understand what you need to do to change the situation. If you don’t you can develop self-destructive habits to cope with your feelings, either by denying them, burying them, projecting onto others, developing unhealthy relationships with food, alcohol, or sleep, or just bottling things up until we explode in anger or sadness.

Being genuinely self-aware allows you to take control of your emotions, and allows you to make positive behavioral changes that move you higher towards personal success, and happiness.

Modify Your Diet

Your food truly influences your mood. The foods you eat act as fuel for your body, so consuming proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates help you not only stay healthy, but keep you feeling energized, happy and balanced. When we’re on the go, or having a busy day we often reach for sugary, high caffeinated snacks, and beverages to keep us moving. As convenient as they are, those are the foods that cause the blood sugar to spike followed by the crash of tiredness, crankiness, or feeling just…’blah’.

One main culprit is your daily cup of coffee. Most people would be hard pressed to give up their morning coffee, however, caffeine can have a negative impact on your physical, emotional and mental health. Not only do you end up with the jitters, or feeling tired and off-balanced, but if you suffer from anxiety, caffeine could be making it worse. Trading your coffee for a soothing bottle of purple tea, can help you avoid dehydration that comes with caffeine, but it can also improve your mood and your ability to focus. Helping you get the boost of energy you need and also keep you functioning at your best. Beverages like Purpose Tea make it easy to switch from your travel mug of coffee with convenient bottles of tea that fit in your purses, bags, or coolers. So you can take it on the go wherever and whenever you need it.

In addition to tea, adding quick and healthy alternatives like fruits with nut butters, veggies with hummus, mixed nuts, granola, or yogurt make easy snacks to take throughout the day. Dark, leafy vegetables are also full of nutrients like vitamin K, folate, and beta-carotene, all of which are associated with good mental health. Remember, you are what you eat, so try to eat better to make yourself feel better.

Be Kinder To Yourself

Are you kind to yourself? How often do you show yourself some much deserved appreciation? How often do you give yourself praise for all that you do and achieve? Don’t just wait for validation or recognition from others, giving yourself a pat on the back is also a good mental health practice. Big or small, rewarding yourself, and often, all a part of “self-compassion.” Like self-care, the concept of self-compassion is to give yourself the same level of love, kindness, support and attention you would give your family or friends.

Treat yourself, or do something every day that brings a smile to your own face, and makes you genuinely feel happy. This can be indulging in your favorite sweet treats, a splurge on a shopping excursion, a spa day, or some much deserved alone time to self-reflect and meditate.

Beyond the instant feelings of happiness, doing something that is just for you is a great way to reduce stress, anxiety, or depression. Self-compassion also helps you strike a balance between self-awareness and self-improvement. You learn more about yourself and how to react to various situations. Rather than being harsh on yourself for making a mistake, or hosting a pity party for one when you encounter an obstacle, self-compassion allows you a more positive, realistic view of your experience. You become more mindful of these negative thoughts and emotions, and learn to replace harsh self-criticism with kinder, gentler words, which boost your happiness and increase your self-worth. Accepting yourself for who you are may help you become a better version of yourself and dramatically improve your wellbeing.

Get Comfortable Saying “No”

A simple “NO” can be the most powerful word for your mental health and wellbeing. Most often, our stress is caused by having just way too much to do, and not enough time to do it. This brings on feelings of anxiety and stress by trying to push ourselves to the limit. If you are used to saying “yes” to anything thrown your way, setting hard, clear boundaries with people can be tough. However, for your mental stability and wellbeing, it has to be done. If you don’t learn to protect your energy and time, it will constantly be depleted until you have nothing left to give. At that point, you will negatively impact your mental, physical, and emotional health by ignoring the signs of burnout and by sacrificing priorities and relationships because you’re “just too busy.”

Saying “no” isn’t selfish, and saying “yes” to everything is not healthy or productive for your daily life. Practicing self-care means prioritizing your needs. Give yourself a chance to step away and breathe, avoiding burnout. Instead of burying yourself with work or struggling to meet deadlines others set for you, dedicate that time to meeting friends for outings or taking time for yourself with a nice massage, yoga class, or just enjoy a glass of tea with a good book without distractions. Your time is valuable and not only is your physical energy threatened by doing too much for too long; it’s also our focus, mental clarity, and productivity. Nothing is worth your peace of mind.

When making an effort toward self-improvement, it is important to remember that there is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to happiness. Everyone is different and there’s no one way that works for all of us, but finding a habit that you can try and stick with, you will yourself feeling more in-tune with who you are and more protective over your mental and emotional wellbeing.

Self-care means making time for you, whatever it looks like for you. Take the time to focus on yourself, learn more about yourself, and accept that you deserve a happy, well balanced life. Even as things come up and change, doing your best to include some self-care habits into your days will elevate health and happiness levels. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so embrace each moment as a chance to check in with yourself and listen to what you need and want. Changes start small, but make a big impact when done consistently.