40 Ways to Be Kinder to Yourself After 40

The time for being selfish (to a point) is now.

Every day, your schedule probably looks about the same: you wake up, run off to work, head home and take care of a billion different things on your to-do list, go to bed, and start the cycle all over again. One question, though: When do you make time for yourself?

Time flies by quickly, and before you know it, you're 10 years older and still not treating yourself how you should be. But, that cycle ends now. Take the time to be a little nicer to yourself, whether it's stopping comparing yourself to others, (finally) using up all your vacation days, or getting massages and manicures on the regular. Putting yourself before others once in a while isn't selfish—it's one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing. Here are 40 easy ways to start. And for more life hacks, don't miss the 50 Easy Ways to Be Nicer to Yourself.

Appreciate your smile lines.

couple smiling in the city

Sorry to break it to you, but wrinkles are inevitable as you age. Because of that, you should never feel bad about such a natural process—especially considering what some of those new lines represent. According to the Mayo Clinic, repeated facial expressions like smiling can cause grooves beneath the skin over time, something that eventually turns into permanent wrinkles. And those lines are something that should be appreciated: they're reminders of all the amazing, happy memories you've had throughout your life.

Keep your mornings to yourself.

energy before noon

If you wake up and instantly rush off to work, you're missing out on some serious me-time. From now on, rise a little earlier and take some time for yourself, keeping your phone off while you get in a workout, make yourself a healthy breakfast, and who knows—maybe even take some time to read the newspaper or your favorite book. The day and night can get a little crazy, so you deserve to keep mornings for you. And for more ways to live a happier and healthier life, see the 20 Genius Tricks to Instantly Cheer Yourself Up.

Spend more time outside.

couple walking on beach feeling happiness

People spend the majority of their lives indoors: at their desks at work, in front of the TV, you name it. There's plenty of reasons to make sure you're getting some nature in your life on a more regular basis, though: In fact, one study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology revealed that it does wonders for your mental health, improving your mood, self-esteem, and reducing stress.

Give yourself pep talks.

shirtless man in mirror

Everyone is always putting themselves down when they should be building themselves up. Stop that negative self-talk and instead start doing daily affirmations, which will give you a nice reminder of just how amazing you are. By adding a little more positivity into your life, you'll feel much better overall.


dad laughing a dad jokes

Whoever said "laughter is the best medicine" wasn't lying. Make sure to give yourself time to get your giggle on, whether it's during a hangout with your friends or by watching your favorite movie for the 100th time. One study from the journal Advances in Mind-Body Medicine showed that adding a little humor into your life can decrease your levels of cortisol, which helps destress your body, while another out of the University of Maryland found even just 15 minutes a day (along with some exercise) can help protect you against heart disease. Yep, laughter is pretty powerful stuff.

Put your health first.

healthy woman in a city

As you get older, your body starts to change. You might not feel quite as great as you did in your twenties, but eating a healthy, wholesome diet can help keep you feeling young for years to come. Skip the processed and fried stuff and fill your tummy with as much fruit, veggies, and healthy protein as possible to make sure you're always feeling top-notch.

Go to yoga.

Woman Rolling Up Yoga Mat House Cleaning

Yoga doesn't just help you check off your daily workout. According to researchers from Harvard Medical School, it's also a natural way to relieve anxiety and stress, all thanks to the combo of controlled movements and breathing. Being nice to yourself means being nice to your body, and spending some time in your favorite poses will make a difference inside and out. And for more mindfulness secrets. check out the 20 Ways You're Stopping Yourself from Being More Mindful without Realizing It.

Do a bunch of face masks.

best skin

Why pay for a facial when you can do it yourself at home? Stock up on your favorite face masks and pamper yourself a couple times a week. Not only is it a great opportunity to take 30 minutes to sit back and relax, but it will also help give your skin what it needs to look healthy as you age. And for more ways to have the most angelic skin of your life, learn the 30 Best Ways to Have Your Best Skin.

Once you leave the office, power down.

save 40 percent of your paycheck

If you wanted to, you could spend all day, every day responding to emails right as they come in. But that's not exactly the best idea for your mental health. Give yourself the chance to reenergize at night by setting a strict no-email policy after you leave the office for the day. Those messages can wait until morning. And for more ways to master the everyday art of email, learn the 17 Genius Email Hacks That Will Improve Your Life.

Walk, walk, walk.

sunny streets woman dress walking Pick-Up Lines So Bad They Might Just Work

Moving your body as much as possible is one of the best things you can do for your well-being. Go on a morning walk to start your day off right, then head outside during your lunch break, too. According to a study published in Emotion, the simple act of getting out of your chair and getting some steps in can give you a major mood boost, even when you don't expect it to.

Turn off your phone (and read a book).

40 things people under 40 don't know yet

One second you're scrolling through things on your phone, and the next you realize two whole hours have blown by. Instead of wasting away your life staring at a screen, take a break with a good book. It's not just an easy way to score a mood-boosting digital detox, but a study published in JAMA Psychiatry also showed that it can help keep your mind strong as you age, even helping prevent dementia.

Don't ignore your vacation days.

beach drinking, alcohol on beach

Even though Americans have plenty of vacation days available, one survey found 662 million of them were still unused in 2016. Yeah, that's a lot of time people could have spent with their families, on the beach, traveling the world—really, doing anything other than working. Don't let another one of them pass you by and celebrate all your hard work with well-deserved time off checking things off your life bucket list. Plus, extra bonus: research has shown it's good for your health, too, helping fight off heart disease.

Teach yourself a new skill.

woman playing piano geniuses

Maybe you've always wanted to play the piano. Or, maybe you've always thought magic tricks looked cool. Whatever it is, take the time to teach yourself a new skill. Even though you're well out of your school days, you should always make sure you're still learning. And with how easy it is to learn just about anything on YouTube these days, why not give it a try?

Limit your time on social media.

social media changes after 40

Being kind to yourself means taking care of your mental health—and unfortunately all that time spent on Facebook and Instagram isn't doing you any good. It's been shown that people spend upward of two hours a day on social media—in other words: the biggest waste of time, ever. According to past research, that results in everything from an increase in stress to a decrease in mood, so keeping it to a minimum is probably a good idea.

Use essential oils.

best last minute gifts

Sometimes treating yourself is as easy as digging into your essential oil collection. They've been used for thousands of years for a seemingly never-ending list of purposes, from reaping the anti-inflammatory benefits of ginger to getting the memory-boosting effects of rosemary. Putting some eucalyptus into your diffuser can even make your home feel as tranquil as a spa on those days you just want to hang out and relax.

Don't shower.

woman legs bath

Showers serve one main purpose: helping you get clean, fast. Baths, on the other hand? They obviously help you freshen up, but they also give you the chance to unwind at the same time. Skip the shower a few times a week and draw yourself a nice hot bubble bath for a relaxing soak: you deserve it.

Remember that everyone ages.

best skin

If you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and feel a little down when you notice a new wrinkle pop up, don't. The smooth skin of your twenties might be gone, but just remember: aging isn't a bad thing and everyone goes through it. Instead of dreading it, enjoy every single second of the process.

Mediate. Every day.

woman meditate standing

It doesn't take much time to reap the many benefits of meditation. According to the Mayo Clinic, even just a few minutes a day can help you find your calm. The ancient practice has been shown to help with everything from depression and sleep problems to chronic pain, but it will also help up your self-compassion—something everyone can use a little more of. And if you need some help making the most of the practice, learn the 10 Ways to Focus Better During Meditation.

Schedule in "Me-Time."

woman working out Being Single in your thirties

No matter how busy your day-to-day is, you have to make time for yourself. Clear part of your schedule at least once a week for a little me-time and spend it however you please, whether that's driving to the beach or going to the movie theater. Since you use up a lot of your energy on others, it's only fair that you use some on yourself, too.

Get manicures on the reg.

manicure grooming

Sure, pampering yourself with a regular mani-pedi might not seem like the most important thing in the world. But when it comes to being kinder to yourself, treating yourself to something that will keep your confidence boosted for weeks is worth every cent.

Get a grip on your stress.

mindfulness stressed out woman at desk yelling work

Between work and your personal life, there's a whole of stress—and it's really hard to shake once it builds up. It's so important to make an effort to rid your life of as much of that tension as possible, though: research has shown even thinking you're stressed could increase your risk of heart disease. And for more ways to get out from under the gun, see the 10 Secrets for Beating Stress in 10 Minutes (Or Less!).

Take some mental health days.

body positive affirmations

More and more companies are offering their employees mental health days. Unlike sick days, you take them when you're struggling with everything from feeling generally overwhelmed to stress and depression—and, according to psychotherapist Amy Morin, doing so can not only help you be better at your job once you return, but can also give you the chance to recharge.

Go to therapy.

weight loss motivation

Speaking of mental health, one of the nicest things you can do for yourself is set up a therapy appointment if you ever feel like talking to an expert might do some good in your life. Therapists can help with sadness, difficulty sleeping, panic attacks, mood swings—you name it. But you have to take that first step and go.

Stop comparing yourself to other people.

celebrity photo secrets

Whether it's online or in person, it's easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Instead of picking yourself apart and wanting so desperately to be like someone else, stop, and write down a list of things you love about yourself, from your greatest accomplishments to your favorite features. There's more to appreciate than you think, and realizing that will help you stop all that negative self-talk.

Dance! Dance!

higher energy person

Yet another reason to finally book that dance class you've always wanted to try out? Research in Patient Education and Counseling found dancing isn't just a great form of exercise—it's also an easy way to give your body image a boost.

Go to sleep earlier.

woman napping with pug

If you're not getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, it's time to set an earlier bedtime. Being kind to yourself means giving yourself everything you need to feel your best. According to the Mayo Clinic, being sleep-deprived can affect everything from your mood to your ability to do well at work, so keep those late-night Netflix binges to a minimum and head off to dream world instead. If you need help in that regard, just check out the 11 Doctor-Approved Secrets for Falling Asleep Faster—Tonight.

Get frisky.

Woman Leading Man in Bed Romance

As you age, it's not uncommon for your sex life to dwindle a bit. That doesn't mean it has to, though. According to research out of Harvard Medical School, you can get your confidence in the bedroom back by fully taking in and enjoying your time between the sheets, just like you did in your twenties. Once you reestablish your connection with your significant other and yourself, you won't be able to keep your hands off each other.

Get a massage.

Sex massage

Sure, getting regular massages might be a little pricey. But one reason why they're worth budgeting in? Aside from giving you an opportunity to relax, a study published in the journal Orthopaedic Nursing revealed they also relieve a lot of that pent-up stress—even if it's just a five-minute hand or foot massage at the neighborhood nail salon.

Embark on an adventure.

Man and woman on an adventure

When's the last time you had a real adventure? And no, that doesn't mean spending two hours looking through every aisle at Target. Take some days off work and use your vacation fund to explore somewhere you've always wanted to visit. Unlike the time spent sitting at your desk, those memories will last you a lifetime.

Be more mindful.

Woman being mindful and taking a deep breath at her desk

Meditation is one thing, but you can be more mindful and present in your day-to-day life, too. Past research has shown it can help decrease stress and help you understand yourself on a whole new level, all from taking the chance to slow down and pay more attention to what's going on around you.

Declutter your home.

Messy, cluttered closet

Having clutter all throughout your home might seem harmless enough, but, according to psychologist Robin Zasio, PsyD, LCSW, it can really affect your wellbeing. "Every time you walk into your home, that clutter brings you down. There's this sense of not feeling comfortable and emotionally free in your own house," she says. So focus on getting rid of as much as you can by cleaning up your space. It won't be long before you'll feel like a weight got lifted off your chest. And for sage advice on how to actually accomplish this gargantuan task, check out the 65 Genius Ways to Organize Your Life.

Don't dwell on the past.

higher energy person

If you let it, dwelling on the past can really eat up all your time and energy. Be a little kinder to yourself about any past mistakes, misfortunes, relationships, or anything else that's making you feel down and instead focus on creating a bright and positive future. Once you let go, there are so many opportunities that lie ahead.

Go on a tech detox.

energy before noon

How much time do you spend on all your devices? Whether it's your computer or phone, it's probably more than you even realize—and taking the time to unplug can do you some good. Give your body the chance to recharge by shutting things off and spending your time doing something more hands-on, whether it's going on a quick hike or playing a game. You'll feel more refreshed than you have in years.

Establish a work-life balance.

man playing tennis

The struggle of finding work-life balance is real. According to the Cleveland Clinic, all the stress that comes from going overboard and working 24/7 can lead to everything from a decline in your mental health to making you stop taking care of your body. Before things get out of hand, talk to your boss and see if there's a way you can establish some boundaries. Then, focus on disconnecting when you're off the clock and scheduling in more time to do the things you love.

Stop gossiping.

slang people over 30 won't get

It happens at work, during dinner with your friends—pretty much anywhere and everywhere. Gossiping about other people might not seem like a huge deal, but those mean-spirited conversations might affect your mental health. Stop the negative talk and instead focus on being positive and talking people up—not just because it's a nice to do for others, but because it's a nice thing to do for yourself, too

Work on saying "no" more often.

say no

After agreeing to every dinner party, playdate, and work event that comes your way, you're left with a schedule so full that you have absolutely no time for yourself. Instead of saying "yes" all the time, be a little nicer to yourself by saying "no." Getting to have a few nights to yourself every week makes all the difference.

Don't criticize yourself so much.

Looking in mirror

You can only put yourself down so many times before it really starts messing with your head. Instead of criticizing, practice building yourself up—something Kristin Neff, PhD, says you can easily do by reframing the criticism. For example, if you messed up on a project at work, look at the positives and learn how you can grow and do better next time.

Take yourself out for coffee.

woman taking coffee to go stress stressed out, Everyday Energy Killers

There's no need to wait for a work meeting as an excuse to grab your favorite coffee some morning. Instead, treat yourself to something you've been craving, even if it's not exactly the healthiest option Starbucks has to offer.

Start journaling.

woman writing in journal weight loss

It's probably been a while since you had a journal. (In fact, that diary you kept locked up under your pillow in middle school might have been it!) As an adult, journaling is less about crushes and more about jotting down whatever is on your mind—something researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center say can help with everything from anxiety to stress after just a few minutes.

Pick up a new hobby.

don't play guitar at a holiday party

Nope, sorry—your job doesn't count as your hobby. Think of something you've been wanting to do for years but haven't gotten the chance to, then do it. Who knows—you might be the one playing piano at your next holiday get-together or showing off cool new magic tricks to your nieces in nephews.

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Tehrene Firman
Tehrene Firman is a freelance health and wellness writer. Read more
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