Why Self-Care is Important
It seems that everywhere you turn, there is some new article or another prompting you to invest in “self-care.” Advertising teams have leapt at this concept, and now self-care has almost become a marketing campaign.
Be that as it may, self-care is actually a very important thing to indulge in. True self-care doesn’t have to cost you anything. You don’t have to splurge on a day at the spa or a fancy vacation to the beach. Self-care is all about taking care of yourself, and that is something you need to do on a daily basis. You can’t save your self-care hours for the end of the month like you can sick-leave or vacation days. You need to make time to take care of yourself now, in the moment, at the time when you need it most.
There are many ways to provide self-care for yourself in your daily life in small, simple ways. But before you can start applying self-care, it is important to understand why you need it.
Our lives are very demanding. We have to find a balance between work, family, social life, special events, hobbies, and all the experiences we want to have. It feels like there are too many balls in the air and you have to drop something just to hang on to everything else. Our wellness is typically the first ball to drop. When we are busy providing care for others, or putting our energy into projects, we will sacrifice our needs for the needs of others and the needs of the moment. Over time, these sacrifices build up and eventually the only person not getting their needs met is you.
You need to take care of yourself because you cannot expect that anyone else will be able to. You may have a wonderful support system, but no one knows exactly what you need except you. They can try and do their best to provide what you need, but at the end of the day you are the one living with you and you are the one who knows you best. You are the only one who can meet your needs. If you keep neglecting yourself, eventually you will get to the point that you can’t provide care or focus on the things you love because you will have nothing in you left. You will have reached maximum burnout, and that is difficult to come back from.
If you still aren’t convinced, consider this:
Life is like an airplane. We are all flying through the unknown, not exactly sure how we are staying in the air but we are doing our best to reach our destination safely. There is only one, final destination, and we are all going the same direction. Sometimes, the flight will be smooth sailing. Other times, we will encounter turbulence or storms that we need to go around so we redirect the airplane. More than once, we will hit an unexpectedly rough patch of air. The oxygen masks will come down and we are left with a choice: help others put their masks on, or put our mask on first?
The choice should be simple. We have to put our oxygen mask on first before we can help others. Why? Because if we can’t breathe, we can’t help anyone. If we are suffocating, we can’t contribute anything. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves, then it’s all over.
There will be times when you can’t put your own oxygen mask on, and those are the times we need help from someone else. We can ask for help, but while we are waiting we should never stretch our capacity and try to put someone else’s mask on them. In this moment when you need help, you need to focus on just breathing in and out and doing the small things you can to keep conscious until help comes.
Take a moment to care for yourself before you run out of oxygen.
Here are 3 easy, inexpensive ways you can provide self-care:
Go for a walk. Taking a walk is amazing for your health—both emotional and physical. Getting fresh air and light cardio increases your oxygen intake and blood flow. Getting more oxygen to your brain and blood helps clear your mind and improve your cognitive processing. All those things that were weighing on you and you were struggling to problem solve? You suddenly have 20 ideas on what to do.
Not only is it physically good for you, but a change in scenery and some time away from everything will be a huge help for your emotional state. Taking a walk on your lunch break and getting away from your office (literally outside the building) will help you decompress and destress. Taking a walk before or after dinner at home will help you get a break from the chores and to-do lists for 20-30 minutes, rejuvenating you so that you have more energy and place of mind to accomplish all the things when you get back.
Indulge yourself once in a while. Treat yourself to something YOU love. Make your favorite dish for dinner, pick your favorite movie to watch, binge on your favorite show, or pick your favorite band tickets. Indulge in what you like once in a while instead of always compromising. Or, if compromising isn’t the issue, make time for you to indulge in your schedule. Instead of the hundreds of other things you have planned, carve out a little window of time to do something special for yourself that you will enjoy and appreciate.Take some space. Whether you are introverted or extroverted, everyone needs a little space from time to time. Take some space away from people and everything for at least an hour a week. Have some you time that is spent undisturbed. You can use that time for self-reflection, meditation, a nap, reading a book, or playing your favorite single-player game.
Don’t buy in to the marketing about self-care, but do understand why the act of self-care is important. Make time for yourself, you deserve it.