Do you define self-care as flaking out on the couch with a bag of chips while binging on Scandal? Or maybe enjoying an evening stroll with a friend? Whether you need 15 or 60 minutes a day to recharge your batteries, taking time to take care of yourself is critical for maintaining your sanity—and your mental health—especially if you’ve got a demanding job, a family, or other obligations pulling you in multiple directions simultaneously. Remember: You aren’t taffy, and you can only stretch so far!
It’s so easy to neglect self-care, popping it on the back burner because someone else needs your help, or you’ve got a project to finish, or you just can’t find the time to fit it in. But when that self-care goes untended for longer and longer periods (and let’s face it, it becomes much easier to ignore that nagging little voice once you start pushing it aside), your emotional and physical health suffer.
Whether you need to justify the necessity of taking time for yourself to recharge—or not—here are 6 reasons why self-care is critical.
1. Self-care reduces stress levels. A little stress can propel us to finish tasks or projects—but too much stress, especially over the long term, causes health issues (both mental and physical).
2. Self-care helps you refocus and keep that focus. Taking even a 10-minute break from a challenging task gives your brain a moment to breathe and pause. Walking away for a moment allows you to return with fresh perspective. Building in longer breaks, especially when you’re multitasking, helps to prioritize and zero in on what’s most important.
3. Self-care reminds you of your worth and value. It will strengthen your connection with yourself so you can maintain the confidence to work toward your dream goals. And it will also strengthen your connection with others—when you’re feeling good, you’re able to extend beyond yourself to help others who depend on you.
4. Self-care promotes a healthy work-life balance. Working 24/7 isn’t a virtue, and that kind of “dedication” causes more harm by depleting your energy, creativity, and productivity. Workaholics are more likely to suffer from insomnia and health issues like heart disease and stress-related anxiety. Setting boundaries between your professional and personal life—and even your passion projects—is critical to maintain sharpness, motivation, and health.
5. Self-care allows you to be a role model for others. Deliberately choosing to take care of yourself teaches those close to you the importance of taking care of, loving, and valuing themselves. You can exemplify that success is possible through a slow and steady climb rather than bending over backwards and burning out.
6. Self-care addresses physical health. Getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising or engaging in physical activity are all important components of self-care.
Jump Start Your Self-Care Practice
We all have different schedules, routines, and obligations. It’s important to find ways to unwind and destress, whether that’s in the morning when you wake up, on a break during the day, or when you’re finally home for the evening. Here are ideas for removing some of the day’s tensions:
● Take a break when you need one.
● Spend time with people whose company you enjoy.
● Read a book or listen to music.
● Get active: Dance or go for a walk or jog.
● Write in a journal.
● Learn to say “no.”
● Get a massage.
● Eat healthfully and drink enough water.
● Calm your nerves and relax your blood vessels with a warm bath.
● Eat a small piece of chocolate.
● Cuddle up with the kids or the pets (or both!).
● Pick up that knitting or crochet project.
● Meditate, practice deep breathing, or do yoga.
A healthy relationship with yourself is one of the keys to creating a healthy, happy, and contented life. Actively practicing in self-care reduces stress and boosts confidence, self-esteem, and productivity. It’s not selfish—because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t care for those who depend on you.
Self-care advocate Brad Krause is inspired to help others improve their overall well-being through self-care. Learn more at selfcaring.info