Every day is rife with challenges both big and small. It’s easy to get caught in a rut and keep spinning your wheels without getting anywhere. You find yourself tired, irritable and feeling empty. You don’t have the energy to do the things you love, and your bad habits seem to have multiplied faster than the clutter in your glove compartment. You’re feeling wrung out or frazzled. Something has to change.

When you are feeling beaten down or overwhelmed, self-help is often at the bottom of the priority list, but taking some time to focus on yourself is sometimes the best remedy for stress. Similarly, self-help is usually put on the back burner when you are flying high and filled with success, but taking care of yourself will help you stay at that high point in life for a longer period of time. So whether you’re at the end of your rope, stuck in a rut or on top of the world, here are 12 self-help tips that will take you to the next level.

Start the Morning Right

How we start our mornings has a huge impact on the rest of our day. Anyone who has had a morning go terribly wrong knows how difficult it is to get back on track in the afternoon. Imagine a morning where your alarm didn’t go off, you were out of coffee, you didn’t have time to shower or eat breakfast, you tripped over the cat on your way out the door, you were trapped in rush hour traffic in front of a man with road rage and you were late to work. Now, exactly how productive do you think you would be that afternoon? The honest answer is probably “not very.” Thankfully, most of us don’t have to deal with many mornings that are quite that bad, but a lot of us start our day on a low note before we even get out of bed. Thousands of people sleep with their phone on their nightstand or under their pillow. The excuse is that the phone acts as an alarm, but if you keep your phone right next to the bed, you might well be scrolling through Facebook each morning before you have stopped being horizontal.

For a productive day, start your day by saying the Serenity prayer or with a few minutes of quiet meditation instead of hunting to see who liked your Instagram post. A calmer, more focused morning will go a long way towards helping you keep your cool during the afternoon.

Get Organized

Take a look at your kitchen counter, your desk or your office. What is sitting on it? If you are like most people, you have at least one surface at home or at work where you have no idea what is piled on top of it. You also probably have clothes you never wear, extra electronics cords you never use and little odds and ends you saved “just in case.” Get rid of all of them. A cluttered space is more likely to make you stressed or irritated, and the odds are you have clutter laying around because your actual storage space is filled with things you don’t need. Take a rainy weekend and go through your home or office. If you find items you didn’t know you had, donate them to a local Mercy House or shelter. If you didn’t know you had it, you don’t need it. The same is true of clothes or “just in case” objects you haven’t touched in ages. With the obvious exception of holiday decorations, get rid of anything you haven’t used in the last 12 months. If you haven’t used it this year, you are unlikely to need it next year.

Getting rid of clutter not only cleans your space up visually, it also removes other stresses. There are few things more frustrating than being unable to find something you really need. When you are organized, you know where you put everything. Similarly, if you get rid of the clothes you don’t wear, it will be much easier to get ready in the morning.


This seems like an odd piece of advice, but play is important to adults as well as children. Play helps us relax and often increases our creativity. Take the time to do things you enjoy even if they don’t serve an immediately apparent practical purpose. If you enjoy painting, let yourself do a watercolor piece instead of forcing yourself to channel that creativity into repainting a wall. If you like to dance, turn on some music and dance around your living room. Make it a point to do something that makes you happy every day, especially if it is something that is not “practical.” Everyone needs downtime, and spending a few minutes on something you love will help you recharge and leave you better prepared to face the daily grind.

Keep Setting Goals

Everyone likes feeling accomplished or successful. Everyone also has a skill they wish to learn or improve. Put them together, and you have the importance of setting goals. Constantly setting new goals helps you keep striving for more and helps you keep the momentum generated from a success. Take a moment to think about something you would like to do or like to learn. Maybe you want to take a SCUBA diving class or pay off your debts. Write down your goal, and start working towards it. Make it a point to write down your progress or your mistakes. What gets measured is what we deem to be important. So keep track of anything and everything that assists or prevents you from reaching your goal.