We live in a world that celebrates those who hustle and sacrifice. Feeling overwhelmed at work, having a pile of projects to work on, and being busy all the time is the new normal. Suddenly, if you’re constantly chasing responsibilities and time, you’re an inspiration. All of this gets to the point that it becomes counterproductive, leaving you worn out and losing focus. Even if you think you’re working hard, which you might, you’re definitely not working efficiently. That is why practicing self care becomes so very important.
While trying to keep up with all of the above, it’s easy to neglect to care for ourselves. When we’re overwhelmed, even the smallest act of self care feels like a luxury. Even taking the time to sit down and eat lunch, exercise, or hang out with friends starts to feel as if you’re slacking. At one point, that mindset backfires, and you end up burnt out, sick, and lost. Self care helps you make progress each day while preventing you from entering a vicious cycle in which you neglect to care for yourself.
What’s Self Care?
Self care consists of activities we do deliberately to care for our mental, emotional, and physical health. This is something that rejuvenates us, rather than takes from us. It’s taking time to care for yourself and pay attention to yourself, not in a narcissistic way, but in a mindful way.
Why Self Care Is Crucial for Your Health
Everyone handles stress differently, but when you’re already depleted by physical and emotional exhaustion, the effects on your body can be catastrophic. A simple act of self care, like soaking in the tub, listening to relaxing music, going out with friends, or watching your favorite movie can help you lower your stress levels. But, self care can go deeper than that and have positive impacts on your physical and emotional state to help you become a more rounded person.
It Affects Your Physical Health
When we neglect to care for ourselves, our stress levels skyrocket. What most people often forget to notice is how stress affects our entire body, not just mentally, but physically. Stress can lead to symptoms such as:
- Constant headaches
- Low energy
- Tense muscles or pain
- Chest pain
- Change in sex drive
- Upset stomach
Identifying how stress feels to you, and identifying the different situations that become stressful to you can help you build a self care strategy to prevent it from affecting you physically. Booking a massage, going out for a walk, and gardening are all activities that can help you fuel your soul and trigger relaxation responses that prevent chronic stress from damaging your health.
It Affects Your Emotional Health
When we feel not cared for, these feeling can have a negative impact that can even lead to depression. Not caring for ourselves leads to deeper levels of unhappiness, low self-esteem, and feelings of resentment and anger that can be dangerous. Neglecting self care can lead to feeling:
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling overwhelmed
When you practice self care, you train your mind to be fully aware of your emotions in the present moment. Eventually, it will help you understand how you feel in certain situations so you can process these emotions better and deal with them in the moment instead of holding them in and feeling stressed about them.
It Affects Your Mental Health
Caring for ourselves also involves caring for our mental health. Only until recently, the importance of mental health was often minimized to physical health. Today, understanding how not caring for our mental wellbeing affects us in so many ways. For example, not practicing self care can have an impact on our behavior with:
- Angry outbursts
- Social withdrawal
- Overeating or undereating
- Tobacco use
- Drug or alcohol misuse
Things like meditation, painting, caring for plants, and other mindful activities can help us care for our mental health and enjoy feelings of wellbeing regularly.
How to Include Self Care Breaks In your Life
Protecting your health means making time to practice self care and maintaining good mental health habits. A quick way to help you include self care breaks into your life can be by:
- Exercising daily
- Eating well
- Getting enough sleep
- Avoiding alcohol and drugs
- Practicing relaxation
- Avoiding guilt
- Celebrating the positive things in your life
Focus on practicing these things every day and concentrate on making self care a priority. Your body, your mind, and your spirit will all benefit from self care, and you’ll feel the difference once you make these practices a habit.