Maintaining a life “in the present” becomes immensely difficult when that “present” is full of stressful tasks or uncomfortable feelings. While there are ways to cope with this stress when it comes, let’s not forget the power of focusing on adjusting everyday habits so that these difficult moments may be easier to bear. Taking the time to step back and reflect upon the low points we experience affords us all a chance to forgive the past and make mindful changes in the present.

What better way to begin than spending the next five minutes reading this article of helpful ideas.

Investigate the benefits of Vitamin D

If you’ve just been feeling in a funk or know that you’re prone to seasonal depression you may be among 70 percent of the world’s population that’s deficient in Vitamin D. This powerful vitamin has the ability to change your life if you let a bit more in. As a regular supplement swallower myself, I can attest to the differences it makes during dark winter months, leveling out my emotions and distaste for cold weather. Figuring out how to safely benefit from the vitamin yourself could be deeply beneficial.

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Make yourself a good meal

Let go of any guilt you may have surrounding your eating habits — it takes coordination to maintain a solid diet in tandem with a busy lifestyle. Instead, focus your energy on making one meal per day or week to grow your cooking confidence. By taking time to prepare food, we begin to acknowledge our body as a tool for success rather than a nuisance of hunger that hinders the completion of other tasks. All you need is a few ingredients, 30 minutes, and a healthy dose of Italian cooking music to lift those hungry spirits. Don’t know where to look for easy and healthy recipes? Try this goldmine of a blog for wholesome recipes even the worst cooks can find success in.

Talk to yourself in the mirror

Too often I get stuck in a negative cycle of thoughts without even trying, which is a terrible place to spend your day. Though this may seem like an odd suggestion, when I sit down and have a conversation with myself, I’m forced to focus on my words like I would if I was talking to a friend. Talking to yourself can seem awkwardly uncomfortable at first, but allowing your mind the space it needs to speak has proved to be an extremely helpful tool in developing a healthy inner dialogue. Not sure what you want to say? Here’s a list of 20 calming affirmations to start you off.

Practice gratitude

When life gets busy I tend to forget all of the reasons I’m thankful to be alive in the first place. Luckily, gratitude is easier to practice than you may think, giving much-needed perspective to even the heaviest of situations. When I was at my lowest low, I would spend five minutes each day brainstorming a list of everything I was thankful to have in my life. As these short lists accumulated day after day, it became second nature to look for good, and when it was hard to find, I had plenty of previous lists to get me thinking.

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This is just one idea to consider, but writing thankful feelings or thoughts in the margins of class notes, sending texts of thanks to those you love, or dedicating a google doc to jot down blessings are a few other ways you can begin reaching towards the same outcome.

I hope these four suggestions prompt you to think about self-care a bit more this week, understanding that you are worth taking care of. Your past does not define your future, but may you always have the opportunity to define your present.