Self-Care Isn’t Selfish – It’s Necessary
Contrary to popular belief, self-care is not selfish – It’s a necessity.
When commitments, responsibilities and obligations pull you from all sides, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you can’t afford the time nor resources to care for yourself.
The fact of the matter is that you can’t afford not to.
Here are five reasons why self-care should be at the top of your list of priorities.
Top 5 Benefits Of Personal Care
1- Practicing Self-Care Elevates How You See Yourself
Practicing self-care is a living testimony to how you feel about yourself. Self-care communicates that you matter and that your needs are as important as anything else.
Moreover, maintain a self-care regimen improves your self-esteem in ways that are both obvious and obscure. For instance, if you exercise, eat well, and maintain proper hygiene, you can see the results of your hard work and you’ll feel great.
Caring for your mental and emotional health improves your self-esteem. An example of inner health neglect is when we consistently put others’ needs above our own. If you are someone who says “yes” to others more often than you’d like, sacrifice your needs to make others happy, or feel guilty when you do say no, then you are practicing self-neglect.
While it may appear that you are being kind, you are really being a people pleaser. You’re attempting to please others at the expense of your needs. People-pleasing is a sign of low self-worth.
Take care of your emotional health by taking time to consider what you really want and need. Make authentic choices on how to spend your time and money. Practicing self-care benefits you more than people pleasing ever could.
A few easy self-care activities you can practice now include journaling your feelings, taking time to consider accepting or denying them, and blocking off personal time in your calendar. These simple actions can help improve your self-esteem in no time.
2- When You Meet Your Needs, You’re Able To Give More To Others
So many times we put everyone’s cares above our own. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we need to put our needs and desires on the back shelf for the bigger picture (which doesn’t always include us, by the way).
Whether you are a parent, work in health care, care for aging parents, teach or any other care profession, it’s easy to spend all of your time and energy attending to the needs of others.
But what about you?
Who takes care of you and makes sure that you are okay?
Chances are that no one cares for you the way you care for others, so your cup is most likely running low.
You have to care for yourself or risk burnout – at which you’re no good for anyone.
Self-care is being able to balance your needs and the needs of others. When you take care of yourself, you are better equipped to help others on your terms – you won’t feel like you’re forced; you choose to help. When you self-care, you position yourself for choice.
Prioritizing your personal well-being is good for everyone. You’ll have so much more to give if you put yourself first at least some of the time.
3- Practicing Self-Care Boosts Your Level of Focus
One of the strongest benefits of getting enough rest is a boost in concentration and productivity.
An important self-care practice that can start today is making sure you get enough quality sleep. Just like anything else, our bodies require maintenance. One of the ways maintenance happens is through sleep.
Sleep is required so that your body can run and perform at optimal levels. Sleep has been shown to help improve immune function, your metabolism, memory as well as your ability to learn. Did you know that after learning something new, your memory consolidates this information while sleeping?
The average adult requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Getting adequate sleep has been linked to living longer. Research indicates that people who slept less than 5 hours per night were more likely to die early.** Issues such as arthritis, diabetes, stroke and heart disease has been linked to inadequate sleep. This has been linked to them having more inflammatory protein levels in their blood. When these issues are treated and more sleep is accomplished the protein levels have been shown to decline.
If you feel that you cannot get more sleep due to a hectic and busy lifestyle, start small!
Begin by setting a strict cut-off time for turning off your phone or laptop and go to bed. You could also make an appointment to go to bed 10 minutes earlier. Even if you don’t fall asleep right away, you are training your body and mind to go into sleep mode.
Once you get used to going to bed 10 minutes earlier, you can slowly add more time. Try it – it really works!
4- Self-Care Allows You To Get To Know Yourself Better
All too often, many people sadly live their entire lives without ever fully knowing who they are. It’s a tragedy because knowing who you are is one of the keys to finding inner peace.
This is an unfortunate reality for millions of women in particular, as we are expected to play multiple roles as mothers, sisters, bosses, employees and everything in between.
The end result of donning these multiple “hats” is that the true self, the person that you need and want yourself to be, is lost in a maze of responsibilities we feel we owe to other people.
Don’t get me wrong, we may enjoy the duties that come with possessing these roles; we may see them as blessings – and they are. But we can become trapped with serving everyone else that we lose sight of our dreams.
The fact is, even though you may go through your life without questioning whether you are in touch with your true self, the reality is that you have become extremely good at being the multiple personas that the rest of the people in your life have required you to be.
Basically, you may not be true to yourself for the longest time without ever even knowing it.
Living your life as the person that you want other people to perceive you as instead of embracing and accepting the person that you truly are is perilous to your ultimate happiness. If you constantly and consistently try to impress others at the risk of endangering your own inner bliss, you’re bound to become exhausted and cause irreparable damage to your mental and emotional health.
Humans are constantly evolving and growing. As you are reading this right now, chances are that personal growth is high on your list of priorities. But it’s difficult to outgrow the perception you have of yourself unless you establish a self-care practice that supports self-understanding. Routinely reflect and determine whether or not you are genuine to yourself or if you are merely honoring what you think other people need and want you to be. Evaluating different aspects of your life, setting goals, tracking progress and examining yourself are ways that you can stay familiar with who you are.
Other ideas that will help you explore who you are include journaling (specifically reviewing old journal entries to compare your progress over time), meditation, and pursuing hobbies that involve creativity (making art, writing literature, playing instruments).
This is not an easy undertaking and getting to know one’s true self can sometimes be unpleasant or painful. However, no matter how uncomfortable the process, exploring and discovering one’s true self will always be worth it in the end. The reward of being comfortable in your own skin, feeling safer and peaceful because you have rid yourself of the false identity that had been residing within your psyche.
5- Self-Care Helps You Manage Your Emotions in A Healthy Way
Even the most positive people on the planet have bad days. We lose loved ones, suffer broken hearts, have failures…
Without a solid self-care toolbox, it’s easy to turn unhealthy habits including over-indulgence in alcohol, food or shopping or completely neglecting our responsibilities. These only make bad situations worse.
When you have great coping mechanisms for when you’re sad, angry, stressed or hurt, you’re able to deal with negative events in much healthier ways.
It’s certainly no surprise that positive emotions have the power to change lives. Brain studies have shown that having more positive emotions than negative emotions enable us to handle difficult situations more easily, and help us bounce back stronger from those situations, no matter the actual outcome.* Feeling positive emotions helps us see options in solving problems, whereas negative emotions thwart that creativity.
As humans, we experience negativity bias, a natural tendency to give more attention to the negative emotions we experience than the positive emotions. Scientifically, negative emotions generally point out a problem that needs to be fixed or figured out. These emotions are designed to help us survive difficult and often life-threatening situations. That’s a positive side of negative emotions.
But even though these negative emotions are natural, negativity bias can make it very difficult to let go of the negative thoughts that go along with the emotions. A bad moment turns into a bad day. A small frustration turns into full-blown anger. So, it is useful to have the ability to call up positive emotions to help balance, and hopefully outweigh the negative emotions.
The most important thing you can do to enable your positive emotions is to practice them.
Practice being positive!
It’s okay to have negative thoughts. Acknowledge the emotion. Then turn it into something positive.
The first step is to identify your negative emotions. Once you can identify them, you can acknowledge them. And once you can identify and acknowledge them, you can then turn each around into a positive. If you look hard enough, every situation has a silver lining.
By shifting your thoughts from negative to positive, you are re-training your brain and balancing the negativity bias.
Like most skills, this will get easier as time goes on. When you practice consistently, you will naturally begin to experience more positive thinking and emotions. This is because your brain has learned a new, positive way of doing things.
A lack of a strong self-care regimen may increase a person’s risk of crumbling under stress, anger or disappointment.
This doesn’t have to be you.
Retrain your way of thinking. You’ll still feel the negative emotions, but you’ll be able to manage them.
And that makes a world of difference in your overall life experience.
On the surface, you may not have time nor money to prioritize your wellness, but that could not be further from the truth. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming – find subtle ways to integrate it into your daily life so that you can experience the peace, positivity and progress you deserve.
This week, discover and practice one self-care activity for the next seven days. You can find some ideas here. Hit me up and tell me your experience.
Cohn, M. A., Fredrickson, B. L., Brown, S. L., Mikels, J. A., & Conway, A. M. (2009). Happiness unpacked: positive emotions increase life satisfaction by building resilience. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 9(3), 361–368. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015952
Knutson K. L. (2010). Sleep duration and cardiometabolic risk: a review of the epidemiologic evidence. Best practice & research. Clinical endocrinology & metabolism, 24(5), 731–743. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beem.2010.07.001
Meisinger, C., Heier, M. & Loewel, H. (2005). Sleep disturbance as a predictor of type 2 diabetes mellitus in men and women from the general population. Diabetologia 48, 235–241. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-004-1634-x
Moore, Philip J. PhD; Adler, Nancy E. PhD; Williams, David R. PhD, and; Jackson, James S. PhD (2002).(Socioeconomic Status and Health: The Role of Sleep, Psychosomatic Medicine: Volume 64 – Issue 2 – p 337-344.
Krueger, J. M., Rector, D. M., Roy, S., Van Dongen, H. P., Belenky, G., & Panksepp, J. (2008). Sleep as a fundamental property of neuronal assemblies. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(12), 910-919.