By Cal Robinson, PsyD
This article is the second in a series about self-care, in which we will cover the various areas in life that require self-care. I will also provide suggestions on how to create your own self-care plan.
Let me explain why self-care is important. Self-care refers to the activities and practices that we deliberately choose to engage in on a regular basis to maintain and enhance our health and well-being. Looking after yourself is an integral part of living a healthy and fulfilling life. You may think that taking time for yourself seems selfish and indulgent, but it is not. It is necessary and vital to your emotional and physical well-being. It can be extremely detrimental to overlook self-care, and doing so takes a toll on our energy levels, patience, social skills, and productivity at work.
Why is self-care important?
- Self-care helps prevent burnout. Burnout is excessive or prolonged stress which leads to emotional, physical, and/or mental exhaustion. When you’re burned out, everything you’re asked to do feels like a burden. The spark you have when you are relaxed, motivated, or fulfilled has disappeared. Burnout reduces productivity and patience, drains your energy, and leads to mental and physical issues. By incorporating self-care activities into your regular routine, like going for a walk or socializing with friends, you give your body and mind time to rest, reset, and rejuvenate, so you can avoid or reduce the symptoms of burnout.
- Self-care helps relationships. When you do things that make you feel good physically and mentally, your confidence and self-esteem are boosted. When you feel good, you are better equipped to maintain positive relationships with people important to you. Another great by-product of practicing self-care is that you set a wonderful example to the people around you. You are demonstrating to friends, family, and co-workers that you know how to set healthy and functional boundaries. This can inspire others to do the same!
- Self-care makes you more productive and effective. Think of self-care activities as your fuel. When you participate in your self-care activities, you are refueling your body and mind. When you give your body the food, rest, and activity it needs, your energy and mental clarity will magically increase. You will be better equipped to meet the demands of everyday life, and you will be more resilient to things that normally stress you. Bringing more balance to your life will help you be more productive. A quote that speaks to this is, “Life isn’t about maintaining balance; it’s about finding and losing balance, and then finding it again.” This may sound like bad news, but it’s actually not: It means that stress and overload can be transient, and self-care is a huge part of the balance. It’s what encourages you to check in with yourself and know that it’s time to make sure your needs are met. It is evidence of self-compassion.
There is more to come in the self-care series, so please stay tuned!