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Enhance your relationships by taking care of yourself

Published December 19, 2011
URBANA - Whether you make resolutions or not, the beginning of a new year is a good time to focus on setting goals, said Rachel Schwarzendruber, a University of Illinois Extension family life educator.

"This year resolve to take better care of yourself," she said. "When you adopt positive mental and physical health practices, it's easier to care, share, and connect with others."

Sometimes we are so busy that we overlook the impact our long to-do lists have on us, she noted.

Here are some habits that don't require extra time yet move you toward taking better care of yourself while building relationships with others.

• Develop the habit of optimism. Individuals who are optimistic believe that when a bad event happens to them, it probably won't happen again and it has nothing to do with other areas of their lives, making them more resistant to depression. Optimism can be learned. Develop the habit of optimism by beginning and ending each day with a positive statement.

• Be flexible. Look for alternative ways of thinking about stressful situations. Be open to new experiences.

• Have realistic expectations. Know what you can control and don't spend time worrying about what you cannot control.

• Discontinue the use of words such as "should have," "if only," and "someday." Enjoy the moment rather than feeling guilty about the past or worrying about the future.

• Schedule time for fun with people who are important to you. Don't leave those enjoyable shared moments to chance. Plan for them.

• Develop healthy sleep habits. Relax with techniques such as imagery, reading a book, or meditating. When it is difficult to go to sleep, it's helpful to get up and do something else to relax. Then, when you are sleepy, go back to bed.

• Exercise with friends or family. This combination pays off in two ways. You can build a supportive relationship and also gain the physical benefits of exercise.

Taking care of yourself doesn't require time away from other important tasks nor does it require time away from significant people in your life, she said.

"Taking care of yourself does involve making choices that contribute to positive well-being so that you have the capacity to care for others," she noted.