Dec. 30. 2015
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Hm. Self-care. We all talk about it, but are we actually about it? Meaning, are we actually doing this thing called “self-care”, taking care of oneself? I want to share some personal experiences, and things I’ve learned in 2015 with hopes that it at least helps one of you.

“This is a new series, I’m focusing Wednesdays to be all about wellness and optimizing our well-being. Join the conversation and share in the comments below.”

It’s obviously vulnerable to put yourself out there on a blog. Like this. Right now. Talking about things I usually only speak to my family and friends about. But I had a thought come to mind during meditation a couple mornings ago– I’m not alone. I get emails from you each week, sharing struggles on a deep level whether it be with food, body image, mental well-being, stress, relationships, schooling, business, etc. At times it’s easy for me to say some cliche positive mantra (which I actually do practice and believe in), but it’s a lot harder to share what actually happens in a raw state behind the scenes. It’s easy to just see what I share on social media as always being positive, but remember those are just highlights, not the other half. Just like you, I experience it all. This past year I’ve gone through a lot, and it’s been comforting knowing I’m not the only one who has experienced burnout with work, stress personally and professionally, overwhelm, and sadness. These came in and out of my life through a breakup from a long-term relationship, saying goodbye to bad energy in my life, seeing my grandmother pass, striving to find balance in my work/personal life, and just the mere fact of being an entrepreneur (it’s not easy all the time), etc. My goal for this year is to give you the same thing you give me: inspiration to share the not-so glamorous side of things and open up more to you. This year was full of beautiful experiences I can’t count on just two hands, but it came with a lot of personal waves that I had to let move through my life. I hope that through these tips and acts of self-care I developed, you can integrate them into your lifestyle whenever you’re feeling a bit low or as a preventable strategy, yeah? So let’s dive in! This is no debbie-downer post, this is a strategic tool for you to build your self-care kit from lessons I’ve learned this past year that are now non-negotiables in my life.

No. 01


Quite literally put, unplug from everything! Granted not all of you, myself included, can completely unplug because part of my career is answering emails, speaking with people, and engaging on social media. BUT give yourself boundaries for this unplug time. For example, I post on social media strategically, meaning I’m not wasting time constantly looking at my phone for updates, etc.; I’ll post something with purpose, set it, and forget about it until I want to engage later. I routinely try to answer all comments from a couple days at a time all at once, this keeps me sane, keeps me focused, and answering intentionally! I also have a rule that I don’t engage in social media after about 7pm-7am in the morning and NEVER look at my social media first thing in the morning- I read meditations, prayers, and good vibe posts first and foremost.

YOUR TURN: set up your boundaries with what you’re putting in your mind and spirit from social media and unplug. Is it unplugging at 6 pm? at 7 pm until 8 am? Set times and commit.

No. 02

Know your tribe

Get rid of the junk, the fluff, the ego-boosting or ego-triggering people/situations/places in your lives and let that shit go! Be intentional about who/what you let in your mind and subconscious. Saturate your psyche with things that make you smile, laugh, feel happiness, feel light, and do more of those things! Be choosy, be respectful of your authenticity and your true self, shower it with resources, people, and things that ignite inspiration in you- not from an ego-driven place but from love. For me, turning to family, friends, and branching out into the community (yes it can be vulnerable), helps find your tribe. Added bonus, YOU’re my tribe!

YOUR TURN: mentally (or journal) go through your life thinking about who/what things don’t serve you and have no greater purpose than their own ego-boosting. Follow ones that make you feel joy, happiness, inspiration, and love. Think about what things truly make your heart happy.

No. 03


Journal or take some time meditating on things that make you feel happy, joy, peace, and love; ignite those images of what it feels like to be happier, more peaceful, more passionate, and ultimately more YOU. Also, think about what simple acts you can take each day to make you feel healthier and happier. Is it putting work away 10 minutes earlier? Is it taking a walk at lunch time? Going to the park at least 1x a week? Meeting up with a friend for coffee/tea to just sit and chat about life? What are ways you’ll ignite self-care away from the digital world?

YOUR TURN: use your favorite journal, create a Pinterest vision board (which are my favorite ways to visually see my goals/visions), have a meaningful conversation with a friend about your dreams and what changes you want to make in life.

No. 04

Live and Love

Spend more time with loved ones and live it up! Even if it’s just meeting a good friend for coffee/tea to chat about real life and what’s going on, put your phones away while doing so and not checking your phone while chatting or gossiping about what XYZ is doing, etc. But truly checking in, being present with them. Listening to every word they have to say with passion and just “being”– this is so crucial and something I’ve brought into my life that has had the biggest “ROI” (return on investment), ever. This is my favorite act of self-care because it shows immediate results.

YOUR TURN: make a date this week with a friend, your love, or family member and plan to sit and talk. Put away everything and give each other your full attention, bringing your heart to each word. Need inspiration on how to self-love, watch this 7-minute video.

No. 05

Be. Just be! 

Being present is something I talk about so often here on the blog, something I tell and remind myself every minute of the day, and practice with my clients. If years of reading meditation, self-development, and mindfulness books have taught me anything (in actuality they’ve taught me everything); then it’s the present moment is all we have. Meditation is the one thing I can rely on to immediately make me feel centered, grounded, and in tune with my emotions– not running away from them even if it’s sadness or happiness but completely befriending them to the point of dissolve and acceptance. Strip away all the nonsense and just be. It’s powerful, encouraging, and I’ll never have a day without it.

YOUR TURN: try adding meditation into your morning or bedtime routine, even to take a round of deep breaths reminding yourself to BE. Repeating or saying mantras or listening to guided meditation is a great starter-guide (check out my favorite resources below).

A list of my favorite influencers I genuinely enjoy watching, learning from, and getting inspired by to build your self-care kit:


So, do you do it (self-care)? What ways do you stay centered and take care of yourself? What are your tips or things that have helped you get through hard times? I’d love to hear them (selfishly), but I know the rest of the NS community would appreciate you sharing your hearts!

With lots of love and light,

xx McKel

Photography by @kelseycherry