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Nurturing Myself

Nurturing Myself is a Centering Skill. “For better health, I nurture myself.”


How can I nurture my body, emotions, mind, or spirit? Am I practicing self compassion?  How can I nurture my sense of joy?

Nurturing ourselves is a skill fundamental to our wellbeing. Our needs are biologically hardwired into us, and ignoring them comes at a risk. This includes our emotional needs for connection and creativity; our physical needs for healthy food, adequate sleep, and exercise; and our spiritual needs for meaning and purpose in our lives.


Why Nurturing Myself — The Science

  • Nurturing ourselves emotionally entails being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain or failure rather than being harshly self-critical. With self-compassion, we can view our negative thoughts and emotions with “mindful awareness” and approach them with balance and equanimity.
  • When we are mindful, we are experientially open to the reality of the present moment without judgment, avoidance, or repression. People who see themselves with self-compassion tend to experience more happiness, optimism, curiosity, creativity, and positive emotions such as enthusiasm, inspiration, and excitement.
  • Improving nutrition and exercise can reduce anxiety and depression. Nutrition plays a key role in the onset as well as severity and duration of depression.  Supplemental levels of micronutrients have been effective in controlling and to some extent, preventing a range of mental health disorders.
  • Short sleep duration and poor sleep quality are both associated with physical and mental disorders.  Even for people who generally have healthy sleep habits, if they start getting poorer sleep quality, they are more likely to have reduced mental health. 
  • Exercise can contribute to improvements in mood, alertness, concentration, and sleep patterns. Exercise can also contribute to improved quality of life through social interaction, meaningful use of time, purposeful activity and empowerment.
  • People who create a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives are less likely to experience depression and anxiety.


  1. Neff, Kristin D., Kristin L. Kirkpatrick, and Stephanie S. Rude. “Self-compassion and adaptive psychological functioning.” Journal of research in personality 41.1 (2007): 139-154.
  2. Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., et al. . Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, (2004)191-206.
  3.  Hollis-Walker, Laurie, and Kenneth Colosimo. “Mindfulness, self-compassion, and happiness in non-meditators: A theoretical and empirical examination.” Personality and Individual differences 50.2 (2011): 222-227..
  4. Neff, Kristin D., Kristin L. Kirkpatrick, and Stephanie S. Rude. “Self-compassion and adaptive psychological functioning.” Journal of research in personality 41.1 (2007): 139-154.
  5. Mechling BM, Arms T. Losing to Gain: The Effects of a Healthy Lifestyle Intervention on the Physical and Psychosocial Well-being of Clients in a Community-based Mental Health Setting. Community Ment Health J 2019 05;55(4):608-614.
  6.  Rao, TS Sathyanarayana, et al. “Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses.” Indian journal of psychiatry 50.2 (2008): 77.
  7.  Lakhan, Shaheen E., and Karen F. Vieira. “Nutritional therapies for mental disorders.” Nutrition journal 7.1 (2008): 2.
  8.  Lee Seng ES, Xiao WT, Chong SA, Janhavi AV, Abdin E, Shafie S, et al. Independent and combined associations of sleep duration and sleep quality with common physical and mental disorders: Results from a multi-ethnic population-based study. PLoS One 2020 07;15(7).
  9. Milojevich HM, Lukowski AF. Sleep and Mental Health in Undergraduate Students with Generally Healthy Sleep Habits. PLoS One 2016 06;11(6).
  10.  Alexandratos, Kristy, Fiona Barnett, and Yvonne Thomas. “The impact of exercise on the mental health and quality of life of people with severe mental illness: a critical review.” British Journal of Occupational Therapy 75.2 (2012): 48-60.
  11.  Diaz, Naelys, E. Gail Horton, and Tammy Malloy. “Attachment style, spirituality, and depressive symptoms among individuals in substance abuse treatment.” Journal of Social Service Research 40.3 (2014): 313-324

How to Practice-Model-Coach
Nurturing Myself


Commit weekly to at least one way you will nurture yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

  • Self-compassion. Sometimes it is difficult to see our own situation with kindness. Think of a challenging situation you are facing right now. If a friend told you about a similar situation, how would you kindly and with love support and advise them? Now, apply your kindness and support to yourself. 
  • Build on your strengths. Make a list of the ways that you do care for yourself already. Are there areas/categories beyond physical needs that you notice you are missing from your life?
  • What are you missing? Write on a sheet of paper a list of the actions that you are most likely to need when you are pulled off-center.  Examples: Eat healthy foods, sleep, find alone time, express my feelings in a healthy way (e.g. talking, creating art, journaling),  find reasons to laugh, recognize my own strengths and achievements, do something comforting.  Circle the activity you most commonly need when you are off-center.
  • Nurturing your physical self.  Choosing more nutritious food, moving your body, and having a regular sleep cycle will nurture you at the most basic level. Notice when you are feeling healthy and strong and reinforce the practices that have helped create this state of being.
  • Letting in your own genius. Recognize and honor your own gifts, talents, accomplishments, and personal genius. Each of us is uniquely gifted in an extraordinary way. Letting in your own goodness is transformative.
  • Nurturing your emotional needs. Take some time for personal connection and/or creativity: call a friend, create dinner/a letter/a drawing/dance/sing/garden/play a game or anything else that strengthens relationships and taps into your creativity instead of chilling in front of the TV or social media. 


All too often in our busy lives the time we take for ourselves is others Because Nurturing Myself is so important to help keep us centered, you should not only allow others to see how you Nurture Myself but share it verbally as part of your family culture.

  • Letting in compliments. When someone gives you a compliment or appreciation, practice acknowledging and letting in the positive words and feeling the appreciation. 
  • Communicating your needs. Let your family members or colleagues know when you need time/space to regroup your energy and nurture yourself.
  • Letting in caring feedback. When someone who cares about you suggests how you might view situations or do things differently, “try on” the new viewpoint or action.


  • Ask others how they are nurturing themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Do they have a sense of purpose or joy?

Resources for Nurturing Myself




  • The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive, by Kristin Neff, PhD and Christopher Germer, PhD
  • Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker PhD

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