Self-care. It’s one of those phrases that gets thrown around these days in a myriad of contexts. It refers to the concept of taking time out of your day to care for yourself in order to enjoy a better quality of life and benefits throughout every aspect of your life. Oxford Dictionary describes self-care as “ “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s health.” Essentially, it embodies the concept of putting on your own oxygen mask on a crashing plane before turning to help someone else. When you are nourished and fulfilled, you are better equipped to be the best you can be at your job, with your family, in your creative pursuits, and overall mental and spiritual health. Not convinced? Here are some practical reasons to make time for regular self-care.
Self-care doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, some of the best self-care habits are just standard healthy ones like getting plenty of rest, keeping a consistent schedule, eating a balanced diet, and getting physical exercise each day. It’s not hard to see how these practices could improve your health, but other self-care rituals can also improve it in subtler ways. For example, journaling can help lower stress and improve mental health while simultaneously improving memory and creativity, according to this CDC article. Spending time in nature, quality time with family, and quiet time in prayer or meditation are all also proven to improve health over time and protect in both the long and short term capacities. So, if for no other reason, practice self-care for your own good health.
It can actually increase your productivity.
Think that self-care is a waste of time? Think again. Not only does it improve your physical and emotional well-being, it can boost your productivity as well. If you are a Type A, list-making, gotta-be-productive individual, self-care can help you in two major ways. First of all, it can help you break out of that. Even if you thrive on accomplishment, it’s important to let yourself be unproductive at times to recharge and self-care can do just that. After all, studies have shown boredom to be an important part of the creative process and life in general. Secondly, you can make self-care a productive task by incorporating it into the things that you accomplish on a regular basis. This isn’t to cheapen its value or make it seem like “one more thing to do” but rather, to make it appear more like something worth doing. As a list-addict myself, I find myself much more likely to take a break when I schedule it for myself rather than just mentally planning for it. And, I can testify, regularly scheduling self-care, no matter what it looks like, does increase my productivity and focus dramatically. You should try it!
At the same time, it’s also worth noting that many self-care tasks may be things that you have meant to do all along. Things like cleaning up your social media accounts, visiting the library, and finally scheduling those doctor’s appointments can all be part of a self-care regimen which means that you are being productive even as you look after yourself.
This one is a bit more abstract but still practical in the everyday when you think about it. Self-awareness is a trait that most of us could use a bit more of. How many times have we wished that someone else would stop to consider how their words or actions come off while committing the exact same error ourselves? Probably more than we’d like to admit. A common culprit is being rushed and not ‘having time’ to think about what we are doing. So, how does self-care help with this? Learning more about yourself, slowing down, spending time with yourself, and pouring into yourself will inevitably teach you things about yourself that you didn’t know before. Particularly if your self-care routine includes quiet time, journaling, prayer, or meditation, you will be creating a space in which to learn more about yourself and seek out personal growth. You may discover simple things, such as that you value quiet time alone more than you realized or deeper, more personal revelations that influence every aspect of your life. Either way, you will come away knowing more about yourself and that self-awareness will positively impact your interactions with others. This is great, not only for you, but also in your communication skills both personally and professionally.
These are just three ways that practicing self-care can substantially improve your life, and the aforementioned benefits don’t even include the main reason to practice self-care at all: preserving or improving one’s health. That health includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. When you take time to sustain yourself, you will be able to better serve others, think clearly, and have the general resources that you need in order to invest in those around you.(Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash)