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Designing Your Best You by (gasp!) Putting Yourself First

by Lisa A. Beach

Need a new self-care mantra? Try “put your own oxygen mask on first.” This means purposely putting yourself first on your mile-long to-do list—even if you’re busy and especially if you are part of the “sandwich generation” sandwiched between caring for your kids and parents.  Whether you’re in your 40s, 50s or beyond, you can feel healthy, look great and live your best life right now. But it all starts with making intentional choices that bolster your physical, social and emotional well-being.

“Self-care is imperative to our emotional and physical health. Without it, we’re doomed to experience the negative effects of stress. Just as we try to limit our sugar or alcohol intake, we need to limit stress or at least take breaks from it! Self-care helps prevent the nasty symptoms of chronic stress. Self-care is not selfish. We are better caregivers when we practice self-care,” explains Deborah Dobbs, MA, Executive Director of The Counseling Place, a nonprofit agency providing affordable, professional and education services.

Jumpstart the self-care process with these ideas:

Pamper yourself

No need to hope someone gives you a spa gift card for your birthday. Pamper yourself all year long. Buy some new nail color. Indulge in a facial or exfoliation treatment. Schedule an appointment for a hot stone massage. Sprinkle essential oils into a warm bath for a mood-booster. Treat yourself to some new lingerie. Take time for relaxing and creative hobbies, such as reading, painting or gardening. And try to get eight hours of sleep every night.

Connect with family and friends

If you’re too busy to spend time with family and friends, that’s a sign your life is out of balance. Make time to meet friends for drinks. Invite neighbors over for a potluck dinner or a wine and cheese party. Skip the texts and call a long-distance friend. If it helps, schedule social engagements on your calendar just like regular appointments. Make every Friday “date night” for you and your spouse, schedule coffee dates with your mom, or put a weekly game night on your family calendar.  Feeling good at any age starts with the right mindset. By making positive, intentional choices that nourish body, mind and soul, you can design a life that brings out your best you. And, most importantly, you need to make yourself a priority.

Freshen your look

You can look and feel good at every age by tapping into your personal style, knowing what flatters you best and adapting to current trends. Get style-inspired by flipping through current fashion magazines. Try a trendy new lip color. Hire a stylist or image consultant for expert advice. Watch a make-up tutorial on YouTube to master a new technique. Test out a different hairstyle or new color for a fresh look.

Refresh your exercise routine

You might already exercise sporadically, but you need to do it more consistently. Or maybe you’ve got a regular routine, but you need to shake it up a bit because you’ve fallen into an exercise rut. The solution? Sign up for a Color Run or fundraising walk-a-thon. Swap fitness DVDs with a friend and try a new type of exercise like Pilates or hip-hop dance. If you normally exercise inside, take it outside by trying a fitness boot camp or morning Tai Chi class at your local park. Find an exercise buddy to keep you accountable.

Nourish your body with high-quality food

Skip the processed, prepackaged convenience foods and feed your body with healthier choices, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans. Stay hydrated with lots of water instead of sugary juices and soda. Try making (from scratch!) meatless meals a few times a week. Splurge and hire a nutritionist to fine-tune your eating habits. Hit local farmers’ markets for fresh, local, seasonal fruits and veggies. Ditch the “white starches” and eat whole grain bread, rice and pasta.

Feeling good at any age starts with the right mindset. By making positive, intentional choices that nourish body, mind and soul, you can design a life that brings out your best you. And, most importantly, you need to make yourself a priority.


Deborah Dobbs, The Counseling Place, a non-profit agency dedicated to helping people of all ages build and strengthen emotional health 469.283.0242, counselingplace.org

Star Salon Medical Aesthetics Spa, offers non-invasive procedures including laser hair removal and varicose vein and spider vein treatments 972.378.3737, womenscaretexas.com

Regional Skin and Laser Center, supervised by board certified plastic surgeons, Regional offers skin treatments, non-surgical rejuvenation and customized facials 972.470.5012, regionalskinlaser.com

The Artists’ Showplace, a gallery showcasing hundreds of artworks that offers classes and workshops in painting, sculpture, etc. 972.233.1223, theartistsshowplace.com

Richland College, a community college offering myriad continuing education classes for any age 972.238.6100, richlandcollege.edu

HALL Park, a development with over 2 million square feet of living and office space 972.377.1151, hallpark.com

Institute of Health Promotion, a medical practice specializing in weight loss programs 972.423.8110, ihpplano.com

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