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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Alvarado

From Struggle to Strength: How Three Essential Self-Care Habits Saved My Life

Updated: May 23, 2023

Have you ever heard the saying, "You can't pour from an empty cup" or "Nourish to flourish"? These phrases hold a profound truth, at least in my experience. Before we can effectively care for others, we must prioritize self-care. How can we expect to show up as our best selves if we neglect our physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, professional, financial, and environmental well-being?


Throughout my life, there have been countless moments when I prioritized others or external things over myself. As a natural people pleaser, I found joy in being there for others and lending a helping hand. Whether it was for my children, family, loved ones, friends, or the thousands of people I serve each year, I always showed up when needed. It felt fulfilling. However, I've learned the hard way that neglecting self-care can jeopardize the quality of our own lives.


Recently, I asked people about the positive changes they've experienced through new habits, routines, or behaviors. The responses flooded in, with over a hundred different answers. From quitting smoking to taking time to engage in simple activities like coloring, individuals shared how even the smallest changes made a significant difference. Some mentioned the power of reflection, journaling, unplugging, planning, reading, seeking guidance from mentors, and creating space for creativity.


Among the most popular responses from my Facebook community were:

  1. Physical activity: Working out, taking walks, or engaging in stretching exercises.

  2. Faith: Practices like prayer, which hold different meanings for different individuals.

  3. Meditation: Whether guided or unguided, mindfulness techniques like deep breathing.

  4. Community: The strength derived from one's "tribe," including family, friends, mentors, and support groups.

  5. Nutrition: Focusing on healthy eating habits, diet, and nourishing our bodies for long-term well-being.

Interestingly, when combining mindset with mindfulness and meditation, it emerged as the most common answer. It's puzzling why we don't emphasize the importance of caring for our brains more frequently, apart from societal stigmas.


Self-care encompasses various aspects of our daily lives, including actions, practices, disciplines, routines, healthy and unhealthy habits, self-love, and mental health. It is an unselfish act that should not be just another item on our never-ending to-do lists. I wrote an article called "Resolve to Take Better Care of Yourself: 4 Ideas That Will Help Change Your Life" at the beginning of last year, and it became my most popular piece. Readers appreciated its vulnerability as I shared how 2017 was one of my toughest years, marked by suicidal thoughts. Yet, it was also one of my most transformative years. I wrote that article for myself, aiming to capture what truly helped me navigate those challenges and continue moving forward. The piece resonated with many, inspiring them to pursue authentic change, seek support, and embrace personal growth, ultimately learning to truly live rather than merely exist.


Now, over a year later, I find myself sharing new insights gained from the past year's experiences, hoping they can help others in similar ways.


These past twelve months have brought some of the most significant challenges I've ever faced, including the loss of several family members, including my father, due to alcoholism.


My family, children, loved ones, friends, and colleagues have all experienced their share of struggles. However, amid these hardships, I've discovered three habits that have continuously supported my growth and undeniably saved my life:

  1. Self-care: When we value ourselves, we can nurture our minds, bodies, and spirits.

  2. Gratitude: Reflecting and practicing gratitude allow us to appreciate what we already have, fostering compassion, kindness, and a greater sense of aliveness.

  3. Community: Our tribe plays an invaluable role. By honoring all voices and bringing people together without shame or judgment, we can experience profound joy.

While it's not necessary to excel in all these areas simultaneously, there are substantial benefits to working on them concurrently or focusing on individual aspects. Progress over perfection should be our mantra, as perfection doesn't truly exist.


Regardless of where you are on your journey, remember that your decisions matter. Life presents numerous unhealthy choices, and some individuals resort to smoking, drinking, or other forms of self-medication to cope with pain. I, too, spent over twelve years of my life in such a cycle. However, excessive indulgence in anything can damage and even destroy our lives.


If you recognize the need for change, whatever it may be, don't wait any longer. Here's a simple piece of advice I received that had a profound impact on my life: focus on one thing at a time.


Avoid overwhelming yourself by trying to tackle everything at once. Start by setting small, achievable goals, taking it one day at a time. For instance, if you want to reduce excessive Netflix binge-watching, replace that activity with something healthier, like incorporating exercise into your routine. Begin with just 15 minutes a day, gradually increasing the time until you find yourself making a whole day of healthier choices. The choice is yours, but remember not to postpone it until tomorrow—start today.


I am grateful for your continuous feedback and support. Don't forget to subscribe to this new blog, as I'll be sharing fresh insights, ideas, and experiences from my journey over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!



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1 Comment


Katie Veselka
Apr 03, 2019

very inspiring what you said moved me. i shared your message with my best friend sage and she was so shook she read the article herself and was very moved herself.

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