Menu

A Daily Self-Care Ritual for Anyone Who Feels Lost in Life

Waiting for a new day

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” ~Jean Shinoda Bolen

We all get lost sometimes.

So lost that we lose track of who we are, where we’re going, what we want, and how to give ourselves what we need to feel nourished and healthy.

I’ve been there many times, enough times to realize that it’s an inevitable part of life, to realize that it’s okay to get lost.

The triggers? They’re never predictable.

Some are subtle and prolonged, some are brief but so huge they knock me off my feet and leave me reeling from shock: the pain of not fitting at school as a teenager; the sudden death of my father when I was away at university; my first serious breakup; the time I found myself in an emotionally abusive relationship but couldn’t work up the courage to leave; a betrayal by a friend that made me question if everything that we shared was even real.

At times like these, when I find myself down on my knees, the first thing to go out the window is my motivation to take care of myself.

I either eat too much or stop eating. I stay in bed all day. I don’t drink enough water. I drink too much alcohol. I become unkind to myself. I lose patience with myself and others.

It just feels easier to not care.

It was only in recent years, when I hit my mid-thirties, that I became aware of how repeating this cycle of behaviors wasn’t serving me in any way. In fact, they were keeping me stuck in a negative place and holding me back from healing and moving forward.

It’s been during this time that I decided to break that cycle and give my intuition the voice and attention it deserved by making the following self-care steps a part of my life.

I give myself permission to not feel motivated all the time.

I always thought that motivation was this bright, powerful flame of desire that would drive me to do what was good for me, no matter what.

After all, if something was important enough, I should want to do it all the time, right?

Not really.

As time passed and I gained more experience in life, I came to realize that there will be highs and there will be lows where I’ll feel like jumping off the moving train because it feels like too much work to stay on it.

It’s important that you recognize this and allow yourself to be in this place without feeling guilty about it. Give yourself the space you need to breathe and be still, then gradually start easing yourself into taking the steps you need to get to where you want to be.

I set an intention for the day the minute I wake up.

When life has knocked you off your feet and you aren’t sure where to go, the thoughts that go through your head in the first few minutes of your day can mean the difference between getting closer to the path of healing or drifting further away from it.

Instead of allowing negative thoughts to take center stage in my mind the way they used to, I now guide my thoughts to these two steps the minute I wake up:

  • I think of three things that I’m grateful for, and then…
  • I set an intention for the day ahead. This can be something as simple as keeping my spirits up throughout the day, or something more challenging, such as coming up with ten actionable solutions for a difficult situation that I may be facing.

Your intention doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. It just has to be meaningful to you.

I prioritize getting enough restful sleep.

Over the past few years, I experienced several violent break-ins into my home, and at the same time was struggling to deal with an emotionally abusive relationship.

As a result, anxiety became a constant companion, making it difficult for me to fall and stay asleep.

Now as I heal, doing my best to make sure that I get enough sleep each night has become a priority for me, and this means having a pre-sleep ritual in place:

  • I make sure my computer is turned off by 8PM and that I head to bed at the same time every night.
  • I don’t drink coffee, but I love tea, so I stick to caffeine-free teas after 4PM.
  • I spend an hour before I plan to go to bed doing something that helps me let go of the stresses, excitement, and chaos of the day, and this typically means spending time with my dog and family, reading, talking to a friend, or going through a soothing yoga sequence. Within this hour, I also spend five to ten minutes questioning any stressful thoughts that I might have, with the help of Byron Katie’s The Work so that they have less power over me, and are less likely to keep me up during the night.

If you’re finding it difficult to sleep restfully for at least seven hours a night, I encourage you to start putting together a pre-sleep routine that will help calm your mind and body down to make falling and staying asleep feel easier.

I focus on building mindfulness.

Having been an emotional eater since my teens, it can be easy for me to fall back into my old pattern of turning to food for comfort when stress and anxiety get the better of me.

This is why nurturing mindfulness is an important part of my daily routine, especially when things get rough.

Rather than numb myself with food, alcohol, compulsive shopping, or some other habit that helps me avoid facing the difficult emotions I’m experiencing, I acknowledge their presence, the discomfort that they’re stirring up in me, and what the old me used to do when they came up.

I then consciously make the decision to not give in to those old habits—habits that I know will ultimately drag me down and hold me back from getting back on my feet.

If you’re struggling to give up a habit that you know isn’t good for you, here’s my challenge to you: Every time you’re tempted to say yes to that box of donuts, bottle of wine, or pity party, ask yourself, “Is this going to make me stronger?” If your answer is no, move away from it.

I make gentle movement a part of my day.

I know I can’t be happy and capable if my body isn’t healthy and strong, so I make time three to five times a week to exercise.

If I’m not in a good place and am running low on the energy, I can’t make it through an intense workout that involves heavy equipment, so I shift gears and go slow with my own body weight instead.

Fitness isn’t always about going hard and fast all the time or getting flat abs—it also means being able to listen to your body and spirit so that you can add purposeful movement into your day that helps you build the resilience you need to deal with the anxieties of everyday life.

I learn something new that will strengthen me from the inside out every day.

Whenever I feel stuck in a rut or painful place, I often have my gut telling me that it’s because I may not yet have the necessary skills, insights, or right mindset to heal and break free from it.

This is why I set a goal to learn one new thing every single day by reading a book, blog post, listening to a podcast, or even connecting with someone who has more experience than I do so I can approach life or a particular situation that I’m in from a fresh perspective.

The internal shifts that happen don’t have to be huge, but they do add up in a way that makes a significant difference to my life: I gradually become stronger, gain more clarity, and start feeling more confident about taking that first step in a new, healthier direction.

No matter how low or lost you feel right now, I want you to know this: There’s always a way out and up, and it will always start from within you.

Profile photo of Michele Lian

About Michele Lian

Michele Lian is a food coach, group exercise trainer, author and all-round science geek who’s on a mission to empower people all over the world with healthy-eating and strength-building superpowers. Connect with her on michelelian.com, where she teaches foodies how to eat what they want, lose weight and conquer their cravings, or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!
Announcement: Tired of feeling stuck? Learn to let go of the past & create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • njguy54

    If you’ve experienced “several violent break-ins” recently, one self-care step to consider if you haven’t already is to move.

  • Bullyinglte

    Beautiful and perfect suggestions. Incorporating mindfulness and allowing yourself to be you are very powerful ways to gain back control of your life.

  • Charlie

    Great list! I have often have had trouble in regards to how I few motivation. Namely I think that because I do not have motivation for X today that must mean it isn’t meant for me or that I am not good enough so I might as well give up. While I do not do that in such drastic ways anymore it still tugs at me that because I do not have motivation for something, like graduate school, it must mean I am not good enough.

  • Laura Bocianski

    I love your gentleness toward yourself during times like these. It’s important to recognize that we can’t live in the spirit of positivity ALL the time. We’re human and will face the full array of human emotions. But we CAN do something positive with it. Thanks for writing!

  • Erin Grace

    Thank you Michele, your article came to me at a time in need today. What you wrote is exactly how I have been feeling the past week & I have been practising similar steps so to read about what I’m going through brings me much comfort. 🙂

  • rt

    Michele firstly I’d like to congratulate you on the personal growth you have achieved in helping yourself and being in a better place. You are a great inspiration.
    The part which resonated with me was the section on “I learn something new that will strengthen me from the inside out every day”. Love it! I am going through a separation at the age of 55,alone and I am aware the pain of what is happening to my life really hurts me and on some days keeps me stuck. But this section gave me a different perspective to look at it and cope with it. Thank you so much, I am very grateful. All the best with your life and keep up with the wonderful work! xo

  • Gee

    I hate this kind of feeling where you have this change of mind and heart about things you used to be so determined about doing and passionate. It is just so frustrating and I don’t know what to do with it. Should I keep doing it or give up and choose another path? If i change, what consequences will fall upon me? Reading this had made me realize that I have to fight it and try to search more and listen more and learn more about everything until I come to my lost self or discover a new self perhaps.

  • Michele Lian

    Gee, I know how frustrating being in this situation can be, but after years of struggling with the same thing, I’ve realized having a change of heart, principles and direction IS a part of life, and will keep happening as long as you live. Keep listening closely to your heart, and you’ll get closer to what you want. xo

  • Michele Lian

    rt, Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words 🙂 I’m so sorry to hear about what’s been happening in your life. Going through a major life change like this is always scary and can be a lonely experience, and I just wanted you to know that you’re not alone in this. Keep that chin and spirit up, and you’ll find your rhythm again! xo

  • Michele Lian

    I’m so glad that I was able to help at the right time, Erin, and I’m so happy to hear about your practice! High-five!

  • Michele Lian

    Laura, BINGO! You hit the nail right on the head with that one, and thank you so much for reading 🙂

  • Michele Lian

    Hey Charlie, I can so relate to what you’re going through (I’ve had plenty of moments like this too!). Motivation is a fickle friend, and is one I no longer rely on to get things done. And remember, your thoughts and feelings are not who you are. xo

  • Michele Lian

    Thank you so much for reading 🙂

  • rt

    Thank you for your kinds words Michele. xo

  • Charlie

    I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my comment. It means a lot to me knowing other people can relate to what I said.

  • Andrea

    Needed to read this right now 🙂 Thanks.

  • Jeed

    “At times like these, when I find myself down on my knees, the first thing to go out the window is my motivation to take care of myself.”

    ….

    “It just feels easier to not care.”

    Sums up perfectly how I have been feeling in waves recently, seeing it written down by another person helps though. 🙂

  • Powerful thoughts and suggestion…after reading feel good

  • Michele Lian

    I’m so happy to hear that, Smugg Bugg!

  • Michele Lian

    I’m so glad to be of help, Jeed 🙂 xo

  • Michele Lian

    Sending you a big bear hug, Andrea! xo