Self-care isn’t just important, it’s crucial for our well-being. You’re overwhelmed at work and at home. A ton of projects are piling up and your calendar is packed with overdue tasks. In an effort to make time for all of these obligations, you work through lunch, skip the gym, and bag your social life. Does that sound familiar? To keep up with this mad pace, most of us don’t think twice about putting self-care on the back burner. More often than not, it takes a wake-up call to notice the toll this kind of lifestyle takes on our lives.
Our physical, emotional, and mental welfare are all reliant on our self-care practices. Here are just a few of the many reasons why self-care should never be neglected:
- Maintain a healthy work-life balance: Contrary to what societal pressures may lead us to believe, being a workaholic isn’t a virtue. Overwork, and stress and exhaustion that come with it, can make you disorganized and emotionally depleted. It can also lead to a host of health problems, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and heart diseases. By following professional self-care habits like taking intermittent breaks, setting boundaries, and avoiding overextending yourself, you can ensure that you stay sharp, productive, and healthy.
- Manage your stress levels: While a little dose of stress can give you the nudge you need finish that task you’re not crazy about or meet impending deadlines, constant stress and anxiety can have an adverse effect on your mental and physical health. Smart self-care habits like eating healthy, connecting with loved ones, or practicing meditation reduce the toxic effects of stress by improving your mood and boosting your energy levels.
- Know your value: Self-care is important to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. It produces positive feelings and enhances your confidence and self-esteem. Self-care also reminds yourself (and others) that your needs are important, too.
- Improve your physical health: Self-care is not just about your mental health. It’s also about caring for your physical self by eating mindfully and intuitively, drinking plenty of water, getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly, etc.
The truth is, sometimes being busy feels good. You may feel successful because you’re constantly working but are you really getting anywhere? We often get caught up in the illusion of progress. In reality, there are plenty of times when we make the most real progress while we’re boing unproductive. It can be hard to put your obligations on hold, but sometimes that’s exactly what you have to do in the spirit of self-care.
Are you ready to jump on the self-care bandwagon? Get started with these fifteen simple self-care habits:
- Go for a walk or jog.
- Meditate or do deep breathing for five minutes.
- Take a break when you need it.
- Choose who you spend time with.
- Laugh heartily at least once a day.
- Eat for joy as well as health
- Listen to some great music.
- Start a journal.
- Take a five-minute visual break by simply closing your eyes.
- Learn to say ‘no.’
- Try not to overthink.
- Play with your kids and/or pets.
- Take a long morning stretch.
- Practice gratitude.
- Sit quietly in nature.
Think of self-care as a necessary form of scheduled maintenance rather than an indulgence. It won’t take long before you see a very positive difference!
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center.