We all know how good it feels to light some candles, get in a bubble bath and throw on a face mask on a Friday night, but despite this, self-care is still not something that comes easily to me. I tell myself it’s selfish, overindulgent, unnecessary and luxurious when actually science tells us it’s essential in ensuring we have optimal psychological and physiological health. In fact, research suggests self-care will play a much greater role in our healthcare systems in this century.
I want to discuss the reasons why self-care is so important and I promise you, you’ll thank me for it, as you’ll never feel bad about going for a spa day or getting a massage ever again!
But first, let’s check we all know what self-care is, as even though it’s talked about a lot nowadays because many of us are still not quite sure what it means given how many definitions it has. Here’s one I like to use:
Self-care is any activity we deliberately undertake to take care of our emotional and physical health. It refers to activities of daily living, such as cleanliness, eating, sleeping and exercising, as well as activities that improve our emotional wellbeing such as writing down what you’re thankful for, meditating, journaling, etc.
So why is self-care important?
It boosts our immune system.
Resting, exercising, mindfulness and taking a bath all activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) which helps the body to rest and restore and build its defences against bugs that like to attack us when we’re at our weakest.
It increases productivity.
This sounds counterintuitive but slowing down actually helps us to re-centre and re-focus on what is truly important. Furthermore, it lowers stress levels, and research shows that cortisol, the stress hormone, can lead to foggy thinking, tiredness and negative thinking, so taking time for self-care can help to oppose all of these symptoms.
Caring for yourself helps you to care for other people.
Another counter-intuitive concept here, but research shows that taking time for yourself regularly can make you a better carer for others. People won’t benefit from your help if you get burned out easily from neglecting your own needs to love and nurture yourself.
So, if you think you don’t have time for self-care or it’s pointless, think again. It doesn’t need to be expensive, and you don’t even need to put much time or thought into it as the basics of day-to-day life can count as self-care too, such as asking for help, going to bed earlier and ensuring you have a good balance of leisure and work. Self-care is essential in ensuring you’re as happy, healthy, empowered, motivated and fulfilled as possible so don’t feel bad the next time you want a little ‘me time’.
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