Take Care of Yourself First (Self Discipline)

Take Care of Yourself First (Self Discipline)

Self-care and self-discipline: two concepts that don’t always seem connected on the surface. However, digging deeper, we uncover an integral relationship between caring for our minds and bodies and accomplishing goals requiring diligence and control.

In essence, embracing self-care strengthens our ability to practice self-discipline to pursue personal growth and achievement. When basic needs are met, like nutrition, exercise, rest, and restoration, we create a foundation to manage stress and persevere. Understanding the core principles of self-discipline allows us to structure routines and habits that nourish us.

Understanding the Connections

Before mapping out prescriptive steps, let’s define self-care and self-discipline as independent vehicles that transport us to desired destinations.

Self-care is an umbrella term for the activities and practices we deliberately choose to nourish our mental, emotional, and physical health. From eating nutrient-rich foods to getting adequate sleep to healthily expressing emotions, self-care replenishes our tanks so we can thrive. Practiced consistently, self-care improves mood, concentration, decision-making, and resilience.

Example: Carving out 20 minutes daily to meditate or journal helps manage stress and regulate emotions.

Self-discipline is the ability to motivate ourselves to take purposeful actions that align with our priorities and values, even when we don’t “feel” like it. It is the steering wheel to accomplish goals, preventing detours and distracting pit stops. Self-discipline comes down to self-control, conscious choice, determination, and persistence.

Example: Resisting the impulse to check social media and focusing attention on a work project requires self-discipline.

When we nurture self-care, we have the energy and mental clarity to channel self-discipline. When we strengthen self-discipline, we demonstrate commitment to self-care routines. They allow each other to flourish or falter.

Why We Need to Prioritize Self-Care

Taking care of basic needs is part of being human. Yet many of us are wildly distracted or depleted, ignoring signals from our mind and body until we suffer consequences. Without minimum self-care, our physical tanks hit “empty,” and performance tanks sputter.

Prioritizing self-care provides compound benefits:

  • Health: Essential self-care habits like healthy meals, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep give us energy, lower inflammation, optimize cognition and concentration, strengthen immunity, prevent disease, and improve longevity.
  • Mental Wellbeing: Self-care activities like meditation, reflective journaling, spending time in nature, and saying “no” reduce anxiety/depression and sharpen focus to power through challenges.
  • Productivity: When we carve out time for vital self-care, we can work more efficiently with less burnout. Our output and stamina increase exponentially.
  • Self-Discipline: With routine self-care fortifying mental/physical reserves, we summon greater self-control and consistency. It’s easier to avoid destructive habits when we feel nurtured.

Example: Establishing a 7-8 hour sleep routine boosts concentration for work and provides willpower to exercise after dinner.

In summary, self-care is the bedrock for peak performance in all areas. It comes before reaching aspirations.

Action Plan for Self-Care

Self-care will likely require breaking old patterns and actively designing new routines. But small steps cultivate significant life changes. Begin exploring these categories:

  • Physical: Mindful eating, exercise, sleep
  • Mental: Managing stress, reflecting on thoughts/emotions
  • Relational: Nurturing personal relationships
  • Spiritual: Activities providing meaning and purpose

Ideally, incorporate at least one self-care ritual into each part of your day – morning, afternoon, and evening. Over time, stack complementary practices for synergy.

Example Morning Ritual:

  • Exercise for 30 minutes to release endorphins
  • Prepare and mindfully enjoy a nutritious breakfast
  • Meditate for 15 minutes to set an intention

Remember, perfection isn’t mandatory. Self-care also means self-acceptance and self-compassion even as you build competency. Be patient with the process to avoid self-judgment.

Leveraging Self-Care to Strengthen Self-Discipline

It’s unlikely to unfold automatically unless we consciously design days to nurture body, mind, and soul. That’s where self-discipline drives the plan.

The good news? Self-care is cumulative. The more we demonstrate commitment, the more momentum we gain. Here are a few ideas to build self-discipline around self-care rituals:

  • Start Small: Overhaul can seem daunting. Start with 5 minutes of meditation or 10 minutes of stretching. Build slowly.
  • Get Accountable: Share goals with a friend. Accountability encourages follow-through.
  • Track Progress: Use a journal or app to monitor consistency. Records boost motivation.
  • Review Routines: What’s working? What adjustments might help strengthen rituals? Iterate.

Example: Fred wants to establish a lunchtime walking routine. He starts by strolling for 10 minutes, then increases to 20. He asks a coworker to join him. After a month, he logs daily steps, feels more energized, and strength training.

Overcoming Roadblocks

Transforming behavior inevitably involves obstacles. Here are common self-care/self-discipline challenges with potential solutions:

  • Time Limitations: Block your calendar, wake up earlier, and schedule activities to ensure they happen.
  • Fatigue/Low Motivation: Scale back intensity until routines feel more sustainable and energizing.
  • Isolation/No Support: Join groups, hire a coach for accountability, and share the journey online to connect.
  • Negative Self-Talk: Challenge assumptions, be your cheerleader, and focus on intrinsic rewards.
  • Perfectionism: Progress, not perfection! Recognize any step forward as success.

Example: Samantha wants to develop a yoga habit but keeps skipping it. She decides to do 5-10 minutes of restorative poses before bed. It feels nourishing without demanding too much time/energy. After several weeks, she feels more flexible, sleeps better, and craves doing yoga for rejuvenation.

The goal isn’t to add pressure or fill schedules to the brim. Prioritize regeneration. Find the middle path between effort and ease, doing and being. Soon, self-care flows effortlessly.

Case Study: Danielle’s Story

Danielle was on the fast track to career success in her law practice. But gaining achievements meant losing energy. She powered through 16-hour workdays, sacrificing her health. When she started feeling constant exhaustion, depression, and catching frequent colds, she worried she’d need to quit the law unless something changed.

Learning about the link between self-care and self-discipline sparked insight. Danielle realized she required routines to nourish her inner reserves and maintain professional demands. With the help of a coach, she created a self-care action plan:

  • Physical: Prepare plant-based meals weekly, walk outside 30 minutes daily, lights out by 10PM
  • Mental: Practice mindfulness while commuting, talk to a counselor every other week
  • Relational: Schedule regular date nights, organize brunch with girlfriends 1x/month
  • Spiritual: Spend 10 minutes in quiet reflection before bed

Aligning self-care goals with self-discipline, Danielle implemented incremental changes until they became second nature. As energy increased, so did career satisfaction. Danielle discovered that when she took time to nourish her body and mind, she felt inspired instead of overwhelmed by work. Her story demonstrates that small steps cultivate incredible transformation.

Key Takeaways

  • Self-care and self-discipline fuel each other, providing energy, mental clarity, and direction to thrive.
  • Consistent self-care routines reduce stress/disease risk while amplifying happiness, resilience, and performance.
  • Leverage self-discipline strategies to lock in self-care habits until they feel effortless. Start small!
  • Look at obstacles as opportunities to learn. Adjust goals as needed, and be patient with yourself.
  • Just like professional athletes require nurturing regimens, so do we all. Support yourself to reach your potential.


While simply reading about self-care likely boosted dopamine, applying the principles will prove life-changing. What small step will you take today? Perhaps reflecting on how to craft a personalized self-care vision? Or discussing needs with a trusted friend or coach? Or sketching out a 1-month action plan?

This moment is ripe for investing in our humanity. When we let self-care guide and self-discipline stabilize the wheel, we traverse this journey with grace. Not only do we realize ambitions, but we also enjoy the ride – rewarding points A to B. Our best work happens when we consistently nurture our inner world. Let today be the start of prioritizing recalibration over burnout and compassion over criticism. Your future self will thank you.