Does this sound familiar? You’re preparing for an important meeting at work, paperwork is piling up and your calendar is so jam-packed with events and commitments that you don’t have any time for yourself. So, what do you do? You continue working, cancel your personal training session, reschedule that coffee date with your best friend and load up on fast-food calories. To keep up with the never-ending onslaught of responsibilities, self-care gets put on the back burner every time. And you keep on plugging away at this burnout pace until a wake-up call redirects your attention to the toll this “go, go, go” lifestyle has taken on your life.
Perhaps not surprising, a Gallop poll revealed that the well-being of Americans was on the decline toward the end of 2017, which halted a three-year trend going the opposite way. Research shows the decrease was attributed to an increase in daily worry along with other factors and persisted in spite of a healthy economy and low unemployment rates, two factors closely tied to overall well-being.
As a result of the downward trend, conversations surrounding self-care, healthcare, and daily life really started to take off and it’s not looking to slow down any time soon. In fact, according to a 2018 survey by wellness tech company Shine, 72 percent of millennial women made self-care and mental health their priority for the new year, moving away from physical and financial goals. And the self-improvement industry, which includes products related to self-esteem, emotional and physical health and self-help was listed as a $9.9 billion market in the U.S. in 2018 and was expected to continue growing.
Many people have so many responsibilities that it’s easy to neglect your own personal needs often. And while it’s hard to prioritize self-care activities, improving your well-being is one of the best ways to support overall health, including physical, mental and emotional health. You’ll have an easier time maintaining positive habits when good health is your strong, resilient foundation. Set aside your to-do list for now; here’s why self-care routines are so important.
Why is self-care important?
Ever heard the phrase, “You cannot pour from an empty cup” and thought it was fitting? That’s because self-care is so important. If you’re already depleted by physical and emotional exhaustion, you’re less able to handle the stresses that may come your way. When you’re at your best, you become more resilient and able to appropriately manage stress, especially amid today's COVID-19 pandemic landscape and social media. Here are three other reasons why self-care is important:
Self-care can improve your physical health
While a healthy diet and exercise form the backbone of good physical health, self-care and pampering can trigger the relaxation response. Relaxation, in turn, can improve energy levels for physical activity and prevent chronic stress from further damaging your health.
Self-care can boost your emotional health
Your emotional needs are just as important as your physical health. Having a solid mind-body connection can make you feel good about yourself and your life, which contributes to long-term feelings of well-being. Valuing yourself is one of the best things you can do through self-care.
Self-care can help you nurture others
If you spend a solid amount of time taking care of family members, but neglecting yourself, you’re at risk of getting burned out from constantly giving. It can be more difficult to care for loved ones when you’ve forgotten to nurture your own needs.
What are the benefits of self-care?
Cultivating a self-care practice is a lot like building a muscle. It takes consistent energy and time but is totally worth it. As you open yourself up to self-care, what it is, and the importance of it, it helps you to reconnect with yourself and what you really want out of your life. “Play” is not just for kids and doing things for yourself is not “selfish,” it’s perhaps the greatest act of self-love there is. Here are four other benefits to making self-care a priority.
You’ll become more productive.
No, really, you will! It seems counterintuitive but slowing down means you’ll focus more on what’s truly important and be more intentional with your time. Once you’ve made self-care and a healthy lifestyle a priority, crossing items off your to-do list becomes a lot more efficient. Say no to commitments that don’t serve you. And say yes to the yoga class or coffee with your friend that you’ve been putting off. Interested in building an at-home yoga practice? Do a Shot of Yoga can give you the books, supplies and inspiration you need.
It gives you a break from stress and boosts your immune system.
Taking a break via a warm bubble bath or a relaxing massage can help you escape from everyday stress and give you much-needed mental and emotional vacation. What do extra rest, exercise and mindfulness all have in common? They activate your parasympathetic nervous system, put your body in ‘rest and restore’ mode and give your body a chance to decompress. All things combined gives your body its best effort at building defenses against cold and flu bugs or other immune system issues.
You get much-appreciated alone time.
Most people need some degree of alone time for appropriate functioning. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, when you’re relaxing by yourself it’s much easier to enjoy quiet meditation, self-reflection or work through problems. Work through thoughts and feelings with the help of MindWander, a monthly subscription that includes a self-help workbook of activities all designed to promote emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.
Why making time for self-care matters
Regular self-care is crucial for your physical, emotional and mental well-being. It isn’t an indulgence or something you give a fleeting thought to, but rather, something that you should never neglect. Knowing your worth through self-compassion and having a healthy work/life balance means you effectively set realistic boundaries and avoid overexertion.
Overworking yourself, high levels of stress and exhaustion can all lead to health problems, including anxiety, depression, insomnia and heart disease. Need a monthly reminder that your mind and body deserve to be loved and appreciated? Feeling Fab gives you the tools to build me-time routines and rituals. Life is a precious gift and you should work to make it more meaningful every chance you get.
What are some ways to start practicing self-care?
There are several different ways to prioritize and focus on self-care, including getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, adding leisure time and play to your schedule, pampering activities and spending quality time with friends. And if you have to, schedule it in to make sure it becomes routine. A few minutes in the mirror spent with positive self-talk plays a big role in recognizing and working through mental health issues. Deep breaths in your daily routine also go a long way to reducing your stress levels. You don’t need much to create effective me-time routines. Put on some music, grab a glass of wine and try some of these self-care strategies to soothe your soul: