When people ask if we’re taking care of ourselves, the quickest and most common response is, “of course.” Why wouldn’t we? We care about ourselves. But when someone asks “In what ways do you take care of yourself?” — well, that’s harder to answer. Allowing some self-compassion into your life helps prevent burnout and can ultimately lead to a positive and healthier life! When you’re good to yourself, you might think you’re being selfish. However, self-care gives you the tools you need to be compassionate to others as well. Giving compassion is like filling a bucket; you can’t fill someone else’s if you don’t have enough of your own!
WHAT IS SELF CARE AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Self-care is a broad term that encompasses just about anything you to do to be good to yourself. Any activity that we do deliberately to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health is an act of self-care. It’s important to take time for ourselves and see to our own needs first before helping others. If we neglect our own self-care, it can affect our relationships, our mood, daily functions, overall health, etc. Self-care is key to living a balanced life.
WHAT IT ISN’T
It’s important to note that not everything that feels good constitutes as being good for you. Sometimes people confuse self-care with unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs, alcohol, over-eating, and risk-taking. These are not forms of self-care, but rather self-destructive activities that help us deal with difficult emotions and only offers us temporary relief. If it doesn’t benefit you in the long run, it’s most likely a quick fix. Self-care is more than a band-aid.
BENEFITS OF SELF-CARE
- You’ll have increased productivity. Learn when to say “no”. It’s okay to decline things that over-extend you and start making time for things that matter more. Prioritize what is more important in your life. This will bring your goals into sharper focus and help you concentrate on your path to success.
- You’re less likely to get sick. Evidence suggests that most self-care activities activate your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). This means that your body goes into a restful, rejuvenating mode, helping it to fortify its immune system. Rest and stillness are important!
- Your physical health will improve. Much like our last point, with better self-care often comes fewer colds, cases of flu and upset stomachs, etc. Less stress and a better immune system allow for more physical activity and ability. Self-care helps you feel strong both inside and out.
- You’ll feel good about yourself. Self-care can seriously enhance your self-esteem. When you regularly carve out time just to be good to yourself and for meeting your own needs, you’re sending a positive message to your subconscious. When you take time for yourself, you’re treating yourself like you matter and have intrinsic value. This helps cut out the self-doubt, overthinking, and negative self-depreciation. Strengthen your inner voice with a healthy self-care routine.
- You’ll feel more in-tune with yourself. Self-care can help increase your self-knowledge. Practicing self-care requires thinking about what you really like to do. The exercise of determining what makes you feel passionate and inspired helps you realize things about yourself. Sometimes, this can even spark a change in career or a reprioritization of previously abandoned hobbies. Trying new things may help you discover something about yourself!
If someone in your life views your routine or acts of self-care as ridiculous or unnecessary, it might be because they are unaware of what self-care might be. It looks different for everyone. Identify what routines and exercises work for you. If you are working toward a positive goal, surround yourself with coaches and cheerleaders! Self-care is not selfish.
Love yourself and take care of you!