Optimizing Health: The Importance of Self-Care.
The All Too Typical Day
It’s hard to imagine packing more into your already busy day. You already have plenty to tackle in the office, from meetings, to project deadlines, to reaching out to clients. At home, it’s no different, with child care and running a business from your laptop. The only time you have for friendship is what you can squeeze out with your coworkers at the office .
A Nation Under Distress
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Many of us are too busy working through our day and getting the job done that we don’t take time to genuinely care for ourselves. Many people shun self-care because they feel it’s selfish or greedy, or too indulgent. The truth is, self-care is essential to helping us maintain optimal health and function at the top of our game. We have so many depending on us, which is precisely why carving out time for self-care is so important. It’s easy to disregard our own needs from day to day, but over time that leads to burnout and ill health, and faster than you might think, leaving those that depend on us in precisely the state we are striving to avoid. Unsurprisingly, 38% of women and 27% percent of men agree with the statement “I often feel worn out and have no energy.”
Self Care Defined
Self care can be many things and is very individual, however, to be most effective, self care must be intentional. Studies of communities where people live and thrive well into their 90s and beyond illuminate the most important aspects of self care:
- Deep, meaningful social connections
- A connection to something bigger than ourselves
- Love in our hearts
- A mission and purpose
- A healthy dose of narcissism
Initially, as with any lifestyle change, you will need to allocate time to evaluate your reality and figure out what shifts and adjustments you can make to start implementing self care intentionally.
Self-care is No Less Important Than Sleep
You can’t pour from an empty glass. You can only push yourself so far for so long before you start to suffer from flagging energy levels, lack of motivation, less patience and creativity, more pain and digestive trouble, and overall feeling far less than your peak. Self-care is essential because it allows you to both physically and mentally recharge. The restorative powers of self-care are much like sleep: necessary, even though we often put it off for as long as possible. Being proactive instead and planning a self-care routine can help you to enjoy enhanced health and performance, and give your mood a boost too. A lack of self-care can compound issues of sleep hygiene.
The Benefits Enjoyed by Those Who Make It a Habit
It turns out that people are healthier, happier, and more effective when they can spend time taking care of themselves, and the shift in mindset helps them to be more productive and have more meaning in their lives. Setting aside time for self-care can make us healthier both mentally and physically, and allows us to maintain a more positive outlook on life. There are many ways you can approach self-care, but the main idea is to choose activities that support improved mental, physical, and emotional health. Some people have a meditation ritual, others decide to go for massages, and still, others learn about setting boundaries and saying “no” to tasks that damage their health.
Easy Ways to Work Self-Care Into Your Life
Some things you can consider doing that are easy self-care steps include limiting the time you spend on emails, work, or social media, and instead focus on an activity that you either sincerely enjoy or brings you closer to personal goals. Self-care can include prepping food for the week so you don’t have to scramble for take-out, can also involve seeking out opportunities for lightheartedness like laughing with friends or something as simple as a daily journaling practice. You can also consider incorporating some physical activity, such as yoga or a group sport, into your sef-care plan.
It’s easy to let self-care slip because there is so much else in your day to make you “busy.” You usually know what you have to accomplish in a day, plus a handful of wrenches thrown in that you have to handle like client issues or family emergencies. Much of “busy”-ness can come from reacting to situations and letting the unexpected dominate your day. It’s an easy trap to get caught in, but it’s a bit harder to work your way out, especially if you’ve too many responsibilities.
Intent vs. Path of Least Resistance
“Acting with intention” is an excellent approach that will allow you to retain more control over your day, because choosing what to focus on will help you to prioritize your actions and delegate tasks that others can do, freeing up valuable time and attention. Start each day with a clear picture of what you want to accomplish and set yourself to those goals as early as possible; if other issues demand your attention, see if a member of your team or an assistant can take care of them, or plan to tackle all those extra tasks at a pre-set time. Blocking off time on your calendar for tasks is a great way to keep organized, and you most likely already make use of a planner. Try rearranging your planner periodically to make sure you’re not only making the best use of your time, but also that you have enough down-time scheduled for yourself.
Make Self-Care a Ritual
Why should you have a dedicated self-care ritual, when there are so many other things that need to get done? For starters, good self-care will lead to a better mindset, which means you’ll be able to focus on the things that matter instead of the little aggravations that get under your skin. It will be easier to appreciate time with your family, and you’ll soon be able to tell a real difference in how you feel and how you approach your day.
It begins with Mindfulness
Being mindful of your self-care habits can help you to move through turbulent times when situations are in flux. When your life is going through changes, such as children going off to college, or if you or someone you love is facing severe illness, self-care can help you, and them, to re-center themselves. These habits can help you to anchor meaning in your life, which is something challenging many people today.
Holding on to your meanings in your life allows you to see things from a higher perspective and can help to reinforce healthy behaviors. When you have a reason to be the best version of yourself, you’re more likely to understand how important it is to rest and heal, which is what self-care is all about.
Self-care allows you to be more of who you are, and can help you to be healthier, happier, and more fulfilled in life. You’ll be capable of more fulfilling relationships with your loved ones, and your refreshed attitude will allow you to seek out opportunities for more meaning in your life. Self-care nourishes you in ways that food can’t, and a good self-care plan can help you to perform at the elite level that you require.