A Guest blog by Brad Krause.

Our busy lives get in the way of taking care of ourselves. We have demands such as work, spouses, kids, parents and friends, all tugging us in different directions. How on earth are we supposed to enjoy a little self-care? It’s easier than you might think. You just have to incorporate time for yourself, even if it’s just a little.

Self-care incorporates the decisions you make all day, every day. When you care for others, caring for yourself tends to fall by the wayside. But self-care is important to your health. We tend to see self-care as selfish, or indulgent, such as getting your nails done or a facial. While that can be fun and relaxing, that’s not really what you need to do to take care of yourself.

Here are some basic self-care strategies that will help you better watch out for yourself.

Sleep — Sleep is a basic function required to sustain life. But we are often so quick to neglect our need for sleep. When we sleep, our brains recharge, refresh and even clean themselves. Chronic lack of sleep has been shown to add to the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. So, how do you squeeze it in? If your life is jam-packed, it’s not easy. But start by going to bed just a little bit earlier. Hit the hay 15 minutes earlier each night until you’re able to get in seven to eight hours. You’ll feel so much better, happier and more productive the next day.

Relax — Sometimes, we’re so busy and thinking about what we have to do next that we forget to relax. That doesn’t mean you have to veg on the couch all weekend. You can squeeze in a little relaxation every day. When you’re stressed, just stop for a few minutes and take deep breaths. If you can, take a relaxing bath. Meditate, write in a journal, color in a coloring book, draw or play with a child. Just take a few minutes to calm your mind and face the day with a better outlook.

Reduce stress — Stress is just part of adult life, right? Not necessarily. There are ways to manage stress in our lives that can help at least lower our stress levels. First, avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. They may feel like stress relievers, but they’re not. Manage your time with a calendar or day planner, and learn to say no. Sometimes telling people no is difficult, but it gets better with practice. When everyone wants you to do something, learn to prioritize your own needs first.

Remove clutter — Clutter in our homes creates clutter in our minds. Cluttered homes have been shown to create stress, so take some time to remove clutter and create a calm, tranquil home. Declutter one room at a time, and find a place for everything. If there’s no place for it, ask yourself if you really need it. Getting rid of stuff can be freeing.

Exercise — Exercise is another life-sustaining practice that you have to do for your own longevity. It’s not easy to find the time during the day, but it’s important. Make the time to exercise like it’s your job, because it is! If you can’t dedicate an hour to take a fitness class, then go for several short walks during the day. While your child has baseball practice, walk laps around the field. On your work breaks, go outside and walk around the block. Or, walk up and down the stairs in your building. Take a friend with you to vent.

Taking care of yourself isn’t that difficult when you understand that it’s not a selfish act. You are in charge of your own life and your own body. When you don’t take care of yourself, you are the one who will suffer. Sometimes, we have to let go of our perceived responsibilities in order to feel better. When you make self-care a priority, your life will change for the better.