It may seem wishy-washy or vague to you. Alternatively, maybe you aren’t convinced that you should practice regular self-care. Maybe you think your resources are better saved for working and for looking after others.
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So, what is self-care, and why is it so important? As it turns out, there are many different self-care practices, and not all of them suit everyone. This guide will take you through the reasons why you need at least some sort of self-care in your routine, and will help you understand the specific changes you need to make.
What Is Self-Care? The Definition Of Self Care
Self-care is a broad term that encompasses just about anything you to do be good to yourself. In a nutshell, it’s about being as kind to yourself as you would be to others. It’s partly about knowing when your resources are running low, and stepping back to replenish them rather than letting them all drain away.
Meanwhile, it also involves integrating self-compassion into your life in a way that helps to prevent even the possibility of a burnout.
However, it’s important to note that not everything that feels good is self-care. We can all be tempted to use unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs, alcohol, over-eating, and risk-taking. These self-destructive activities help us to regulate challenging emotions, but the relief is temporary.
The difference between unhealthy coping mechanisms and self-care activities is that the latter is uncontroversially good for you. When practiced correctly, self-care has long-term benefit for the mind, the body, or both.
Benefits Of Self Care
With a self-care definition on the table, we can now turn to look at what happens to us when we add it to our lives. So, why is self-care important?
As hinted above, there are many benefits of self-care. The most obvious relates to mood and energy levels. However, as it turns out, research shows wider ranging benefits as well.
Top 6 Benefits Of Self Care
Better productivity. When you learn how to say “no” to things that over-extend you and start making time for things that matter more, you slow life down in a wonderful way. This brings your goals into sharper focus and helps you to concentrate on what you’re doing.
Improved resistance to disease. There is evidence that most self-care activities activate your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). What this means is that your body goes into a restful, rejuvenating mode, helping it to fortify its immune system.
Better physical health. Similarly to the previous point, with better self-care often comes fewer colds, cases of flu and upset stomachs. Less stress and a better immune system can surely help you feel more physically able and strong inside and out.
Enhanced self-esteem. When you regularly carve out time that’s only about being good to yourself and meeting your own needs, you send a positive message to your subconscious. Specifically, you treat yourself like you matter and have intrinsic value. This can go a long way toward discouraging negative self-talk and your critical inner voice.
Increased self-knowledge. Practicing self-care requires thinking about what you really love to do. The exercise of figuring out what makes you feel passionate and inspired can help you understand yourself a lot better. Sometimes, this can even spark a change in career or a reprioritization of previously abandoned hobbies.
More to give. When you’re good to yourself, you might think you’re being selfish. In truth, self-care gives you the resources you need to be compassionate to others as well. Giving compassion is a bit like filling a bucket; you can’t fill someone else’s if you don’t have enough of your own!