Whether you’re at work, school, or with family and friends, you always want to bring your best self to the table, right?

You should strive for the same for yourself! Because when you feel healthy and strong, you feel good; and that means you can be a better friend, better partner, better team member and better all-around person. In that vein, we’ve pulled together some actions that you can take to be your best self—for your benefit, and so you can be there for the ones who matter most.

  1. Choose foods that make you feel good. We know it’s tempting to consume all of the crave-able sweets and snacks, like sugary sodas, cookies, candies, chips and deep-fried anything. But have you considered the way they make you feel? For many of us, the answer is lethargic, sleepy and up-and-down with our energy. That’s because foods that are high in refined carbohydrates and sugars can cause a spike in blood pressure, according to the Cleveland Clinic, which prompts the body to make insulin, and the combo can make you feel that roller-coaster effect on your energy levels. On the other hand, a balanced diet, complete protein and healthier carbs and fats takes longer to digest, releasing sugar into the system more slowly and evenly. One way to make more energizing choices is to learn to read food labels, so you know what you’re eating. Check out this beginner’s guide, by the  American Diabetes Association, to get started.

  2. Never stop learning. It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day grind. That’s why it’s important to commit to something new, so you’re breaking out of your routine, and opening your mind. Think about what skills and pursuits appeal to you. Perhaps it’s a new language or computer skill or instrument; maybe it’s reading all of the classic literature you can, streaming every award-winning movie available or enrolling in a pottery class. Whatever it is, you’ll be smarter for it; and it’ll make for a fun conversation at your next social gathering.

  3. Keep your friendships strong. Speaking of social gatherings, when’s the last time you hosted or attended one? According to the Mayo Clinic, meaningful friendships can give your health and mood a boost, while also reducing stress and helping you cope with changes and challenges in life. But friendships take effort on both sides! Make time to reflect on who’s important in your life, and schedule a time to meet up or talk on the phone with those people. You may both feel better for it.

  4. Keep on top of your health conditions—and concerns. Many people have fallen behind in their regular health checkups and screenings because of the pandemic. And, while that is completely understandable, it is also concerning, and could have a negative impact on people who have known or as-yet-undetected conditions. October is a good time to reflect on your health and then scheduling needed check-ups, tests, screenings and vaccinations.

  5. Move more, sit less. There’s no doubt exercise is good for your health. But knowing it doesn’t always serve as motivation. That motivation must come from within, as you select a physical activity you enjoy. Consider what gets you going: is it a group or solo workout? What about a team or couple’s sport? Have you tried downloading fitness apps that offer classes and encouragement? Do step counters challenge you to add in more walking or jogging to your day? We all know by now that there is no secret to starting a workout routine. It takes intention and commitment. But it also serves as its own reward, in how you feel after you do it.

  6. Do something for others. Volunteering is good for your health. A recent study of do-gooder older adults by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health notes that “Older adults who volunteer for as little as two hours per week can substantially lower their risk of early death, become more physically active, and improve their sense of well-being compared with those who don’t volunteer.” Volunteering brings a new social element into routine; it gives you something to look forward to; it distracts you from every-day anxieties; and it could make a lasting impact in the life of someone you may never even meet.

  7. Make sleep a priority. Many people treat sleep like a luxury rather than a necessity. One-third of American adults report getting less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That could cause significant ripples in your day-to-day life. Sleep, after all, is just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to health. And people who don’t get enough could increase their risk for obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Lack of sleep can also lead to traffic accidents, workplace accidents and mistakes and irritability that can impact personal relationships. In other words, if you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not working towards your best self.

  8. Be thankful. People who are grateful for all that they have don’t just seem happier—research shows they may actually be happier. “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness,” reads an article by Harvard Health Publishing. “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Of course, counting your blessings doesn’t come naturally for everyone in our high-paced world. You may have to work at it. Some ideas on where to start include writing thank you notes to individuals, contributing to a gratitude journal and meditating to create space to think about what good fortune each day brings.

  9. Make a donation. If you’ve ever given something away, you know how good it feels. Maybe you gave away clothes, or furniture or donated money to a meaningful cause. Perhaps you gave something even more personal, like blood, or even an organ to someone in need. According to the Cleveland Clinic, those who give to others tend to have greater self-esteem, less stress and lower rates of depression. Donations present another opportunity to reflect on all that you have, and generously share your own resources with others in need.

  10. Indulge in moderation. We all have our preferred vices. For some, it’s eating sweets or salty snacks. For others, it might be a cocktail to relax. You don’t need to deprive yourself of things you love. But try and limit how much you consume—whether that means a single serving of your favorite candy, or a single glass of wine with friends (the Dietary Guidelines for Americans say one drink or less daily for women, two for men). There’s a fine line between denying yourself and going overboard. Find that line and stick with it!

  11. Ask for help. If you’re struggling with something, don’t be afraid to ask for help—whether that means seeking help from a mental health provider, a doctor or just a friend. You know the phrase “it takes a village?” Well, that applies to many different areas of life. And sometimes, being our best selves depend on the kindness and assistance of others.