Updated: Feb 12, 2019
Self-care is a hot topic right now. Everyone seems to be talking about it. But, why is it so important? And, maybe more important, WHAT is it?
Self-care is simply the practice of taking care of yourself. Seems obvious, right? Maybe not so much. People often know the definition of self-care, but do not truly understand the meaning of it. So, what does it really mean to take care of yourself?
Self-care is as different for each person as their personalities. The elements of self-care that you value may be different from what another person values. For you, emotional self-care may be the most important thing. For another person, physical self-care might be vital to their overall health. And another person might find spiritual self-care to be their priority. But, what’s most important is finding the right balance for YOU.
Regardless of your personal self-care ritual, we can all agree that taking time to care for yourself is beneficial for your overall well-being.
Here are just a few ways self-care can improve your life. Self care...
Improves Your Mental Health
Taking time out to care for yourself gives you the time you need to process your thoughts and emotions. Taking time to process your thoughts and emotions improves your emotional IQ, or your ability to use emotional information to guide your thinking and behavior.
We’ve all reached our breaking point before… and it never feels good. A great way to combat burnout before it hits is to take some time for yourself. Self-care helps you avoid that breaking point and allows you to function at a higher capacity without feeling so drained.
Reduces the Negative Effects of Stress
Small amounts of positive stress (called eustress) can be beneficial to productivity. But, large amounts of negative stress take a toll on your body. Did you know that long-term increased levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) actual cause the cells in your body to break down more quickly than healthy cells? This causes faster aging, fatigue, illness, and more… Taking time for yourself helps to reduce stress, and over time, improve your physical health.
Improves Your Physical Health
While pampering may not give you an immediate improvement in your health, the relaxation response that results from pampering can help prevent chronic stress, which DOES rapidly improve your physical health. Additionally, healthy eating and exercise are common aspects of physical self-care. So, go to that yoga class and enjoy a delicious fruit smoothie afterwards—you’ll thank yourself for taking time to refresh and relax.
Helps You Refocus
When you got stuck on a complicated math problem in school, your teacher would suggest walking away and coming back to it later. The same goes for life—when you get stuck, walk away and take a few moments for yourself. Breaks are the epitome of self-care and they help you refocus your energy on the task at hand.
Enhances Your Self-Esteem
Taking time out for yourself reminds you and others that your needs are important, too. This send positive messages to your subconscious that you matter and have intrinsic value, thereby improving your overall self-esteem. This goes a long way towards discouraging negative self-talk and quieting your inner-critic.
Improves Your Resistance to Disease
Evidence shows that most self-care activities let your body fall into a restful, rejuvenating state, which helps fortify the immune system and prevent disease. So, better self-care means less colds, cases of the flu, and upset stomachs. Who wouldn’t want that?
Increases Your Self-Knowledge
Practicing self-care means taking time to think about what you really love to do. By figuring out what inspires you and learning your passions, you learn to understand yourself and your needs better. This may even spark a change in career or a refocus on abandoned hobbies!
Makes You A Better Caregiver
People who neglect their own needs and don’t nurture themselves risk low self-esteem, deeper levels of unhappiness, and even feelings of resentment. Resentful, unhappy people do not make for good caregivers. However, mindful self-care actually increases a person’s capacity for compassion, making them a better caregiver. You can’t successfully care for other people unless you take care of yourself first!
Improves Your Work-Life Balance
Overwork, and the accompanying stress and exhaustion, makes you less productive, disorganized, and emotionally depleted. It also leads to all kinds of health problems, like depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even heart disease. Self-care helps to reduce those stress levels and improve focus. Additionally, professional self-care habits like taking intermittent breaks, setting professional boundaries, and not overextending yourself can help you stay motivated and healthy.
Now that you know a little more about the benefits of self-care, what are you waiting for? Go do something nice for yourself TODAY and enjoy the benefits of a calmer, relaxed self tomorrow.