5 AM. The alarm goes off and it’s time to start the day. Breakfast, getting everyone out the door, carpool, work, errands, chores, carpool, dinner etc.
Hopefully I can get everything done on my to-do list before going to bed and starting all over again the next day.
Some days it feels like there’s barely time for a shower much less any other kind of self care. With two little ones and a 4-legged kiddo, who has time for anything else?
Self care is the act of taking care of yourself. It is doing exactly what you need to do to feel the best all around. This includes mentally, physically, and emotionally. Each person has their own way of self care. This can be anything from quitting your exhausting job, to getting your hair done, or ensuring you have time to read each evening before bed.
Taking care of yourself should not be overlooked. There are many benefits that result from a self care routine. If you are not taking care of yourself it can lead to overwhelming stress, lack of confidence, less productivity at work, and even cause deteriorating relationships with family and friends.
To really understand self care, you need to understand yourself first. Ask yourself these questions to gain some clarity.
- What are the things I need to do to feel complete?
- What activities help me relieve stress?
- Is there anything I can eliminate from my daily schedule that is preventing me from taking care of myself?
- Am I happy with my exercise routine and am I eating healthy?
The way you answer these questions determines your self care needs. Once you have defined your needs all you need to do now is to add it to your schedule and do them to reap the benefits.
During my divorce, I had a hard time even thinking about these questions, much less answering them.
Self care for me during that time was just trying to put one foot in front of the other while dealing with someone doing everything possible to make life more difficult.
My main focus was taking care of my children. Not much time for me and during that time they had to be the priority.
Self care is extremely beneficial for optimal health. Let’s look at a few of the amazing benefits you’ll experience over time.
- Increased Positivity – Adding these activities to your schedule will give you something to look forward to. Now you will no longer be thinking about how bad your day is and only be looking forward to reading that book in total silence or getting your nails done after work.
- Increased Self-Confidence – Your needs are now a top priority and that is a good thing. Self-confidence will naturally increase because you are simply doing the things that make you feel good.
- Improved Immunity – Self care allows you to give your body a break from stress, anxiety and emotional trauma which increases your immunity. Stress and depression can overload your mind and body which is crucial to reduce as much as possible.
- Better Relationships – The more your needs are met the better your relationships will be with other people. When you are feeling down about yourself and don’t feel important chances are that’s what you are putting onto others.
- Higher Productivity – All the benefits that have been stated above help with increased productivity at work and at home. Less stress, higher immunity, and higher self-confidence all help to boost productivity.
Remember, self-care is all about you as an individual. So, what you need to do to take care of yourself won’t be the same as your friends and family. After this routine is put in place you will notice a significant change in your health and overall well-being.
Why Is Self Care Important?
Self care is simply doing the things you like to do that helps you feel happy and healthy. There really is no limit to what self care is because it’s all about what you like doing for yourself and your personality that makes you a better person, parent, spouse, sibling, and friend.
I love to read and to play silly games on my phone when I have a few minutes. Something to get my mind off of what’s going on around me, even if it’s for a few minutes.
Don’t do things you think you need to do or what others say you need to do. Do what you know you love and want. It doesn’t have to require money or be anything extravagant. Meditate, get up early, read a book, or go for a jog.
Neglecting yourself and putting your needs on the back burner inevitably leads to an unhealthy life. Self care needs to be a part of everyone’s personal schedule and shouldn’t be overlooked due to time or because someone believes it is selfish. Self care is essential to having a healthy, productive, and happy life. If mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
Self care is imperative because it prevents:
- Stress — Most everyone lives with stress in their daily lives but it’s important to try to reduce this as much as possible. Plenty of medical research shows that stress can cause many negative side effects. This includes headaches, low energy, aches and pain and even insomnia.
- Burnout – Burnout is another form of extreme stress that results in physical and emotional exhaustion, negativity, lack of enjoyment and the feeling of hopelessness. Burnout typically happens when people are overworked or during events that you feel you can’t control. Self-care allows you to take a break from these activities that can result in burnout. Even if it’s a simple one-minute break where you just close your eyes and breathe, it will help reduce this type of stress.
- Negativity — Putting everyone else’s needs over your own will turn just about anyone negative. The feeling of not being important and that their needs overpower yours is a horrible feeling. The fact is, the more your needs are met the more others needs will be met too. You will experience less bitterness and resentment towards others if you take care of yourself.
If you find yourself at any point feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or just negative towards people stop what you are doing immediately. You can easily take a few minutes to refocus your mind. Maybe you need to talk to your friends and family for a few minutes or look at a few pictures that make you happy such as babies or cats. This will allow you to relax and adjust your attitude. You will be amazed at how much more productive you will be if you just put yourself first.
Self Care Isn’t Actually Selfish
When I was a new mom, I felt like I needed to be with my babies 24/7. I didn’t even allow them to take my babies out of the room at the hospital after they were born (crazy, right?)
I was in full mommy mode during maternity leave and then working mommy mode when I went back to work. After getting only about two hours of sleep every night, I was exhausted. I wasn’t good to anyone at work or at home.
My mom came for a visit and saved the day, helping with the kids so that my now ex-husband and I could recharge just a little.
You might have noticed that self care is considered a negative or selfish thing by much of society. You’ll find people who believe that moms just can’t have it all. You might even feel a little resistance while trying to take care of yourself more. Our society was raised on working hard and helping others before you can help yourself, especially women. Self care is more of a reward for working hard than something that is vital to your health. That simply is not true, self care isn’t actually selfish. Self care benefits you and everyone else around you.
Put on Your Oxygen Mask First
You might have heard this before but it’s a great example and needs to be repeated. When you get on a plane one of the first things they tell you to do is to put your oxygen mask on before you assist others in the event of an incident. Not the baby or the person in the seat next to you. Not because it’s selfish but because it’s logical. If you are having a hard time breathing you won’t be able to help others around you. So, ultimately, both you and the person needing your help are out of luck all because you put them before yourself.
Your Life, Your Oxygen Mask
This same story can be interpreted in your everyday life. If you are burned-out or unhappy you won’t benefit the people around you. You will do sub par work and maybe even say things you didn’t mean to say if you don’t take care of yourself. By simply putting yourself first you can easily change your productivity and relationships with work, friends, and family. Everyone benefits in the end if they can get to their oxygen masks easily.
You’ll Know You Better
A good self care routine also allows you to truly discover yourself. Knowing what you enjoy that makes you happy or understating your passion and purpose in life benefits the people around you too. These people get to experience the best you that there is. The relaxed and highly self-confident and powerful person you are. Less negativity and resentment towards others allows for stronger and more meaningful relationships to flourish.
There may be a few people in your life that will see self care as selfish but don’t let it stop you. Instead, educate them or take them out of your life if that’s possible. Maybe they are just as overwhelmed as you are and don’t understand the importance of self care. More than likely they will agree with you and even add it to their schedule. If they don’t understand it there is no point in stressing about what they say. Don’t let them stop you from taking care of yourself. Your health, happiness, and life matter too.
The Dangers Of Neglecting Self Care
It is important to note that being too productive can cause both short term and long-term negative effects on your body, mind, and even the people around you. It might seem like working hard is a good thing because you are being productive but if you take it too far you can cause some serious damage that may take a long time to reverse if it can be reversed at all.
And if you’re working flat out and not taking time for yourself, how productive can you really be?
Let’s look at the major warning signs to pay attention to before things turn for the worse and some short and long-term effects associated with neglecting self care.
- Fatigue/Insomnia — Do you feel like no matter how much sleep you are getting you still feel tired? Maybe you are tossing and turning and can’t sleep at all. Your body is trying to tell you something is wrong so pay attention and get it checked out. You could have sleep apnea. Talk to your doctor.
- Feeling Inadequate – If you ever feel like you are not good enough to do something or just look and feel horrible all the time then you are experiencing low self-esteem. Everyone is good enough and shouldn’t feel this way. If you feel this way even after trying to work on it yourself for a few weeks you may need to seek out a counselor or even a life coach for assistance.
- Blaming Others – Have you noticed more fights with friends, family members, and maybe even co-workers? Sometimes when people neglect their self care they feel like the world is against them and its everyone else’s fault but theirs. The truth is you are the only one responsible for your happiness. That’s a hard lesson to learn but it’s a fact.
- Poor Hygiene — When you overwork yourself too much more than likely your hygiene is lacking. You are too tired and skip the shower before bed time and wake up too late to get in a shower before work. You might not schedule in enough time to get the laundry done efficiently. Anything can add up over time without notice. Often when people don’t feel good about themselves they also feel like it’s not important to keep up with it because it doesn’t help them anyway. Read the book, “The Compound Effect”, by Darren Hardy.
- Poor Relationships — Negativity, low self-esteem, and feeling fatigue can wreak havoc on relationships. All these symptoms of self-neglect can lead you to believe that no one cares about you. The truth is, if you don’t care enough about yourself to take care of yourself it’s going to be hard to have good relationships.
- Mental Fog – Mental fog is a combination of confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of focus. It is mostly associated with a poor diet of high sugar foods and drinks and unhealthy chemicals. If you’re experiencing this try going on a whole food diet eliminating sugar and starches and processed food. If the fog doesn’t lift within a month, seek medical intervention.
- Addiction – More times than not when people are running a schedule that doesn’t include breaks or enough sleep they turn to drugs, medications, food and drink that lead to addictions. Coffee, cigarettes, caffeine pills, high-sugar foods, and drinks are all examples. These addictions can take years to reverse and each has their own negative side effects.
- Weight Gain – High sugar drinks like coffee at Dunkin Donuts or fast food on your way home to cut your cooking time can lead to weight gain. People who are on busy schedules typically forget to eat and resort to whatever is closest to them and usually it is not a great choice. They also neglect exercise. Weight gain can lead to more serious conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.
Everyone needs to take a break and pay attention to what their body is telling them. If you take the time to listen you can prevent yourself from seriously harming your body. Therefore, self-care is imperative for a happy life, for you, as well as your friends and family.
How A Little Self Care Can Improve Your Attitude
A little self care can go a long way toward improving your attitude. Adjusting your attitude can easily make a bad day turn into a great day. As the popular saying goes “attitudes are contagious”. It’s best to do everything you need to do to be positive in life. That way when you are around your friends, family, and coworkers you are not making their day as bad as yours.
There are things that you can add to your daily life to improve your attitude, let’s look at a few.
- Get Enough Sleep – Set your alarm to go off about an hour before you need to get into bed. Turn off all electronics, turn down the lights. Fix your central air to make the room cooler about 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid eating too late. If it helps you to calm down get in the bed with a good book. Getting a full night sleep is vital to waking up in a good mood. You will feel energetic and much more willing to start out your day without resentment.
- Eat Healthy and Exercise – Getting adequate exercise is known to release endorphins to the brain. Endorphins are hormones that are responsible for making you feel happy. Pair exercise with a healthy meal to get the best results possible. Not only will your attitude improve but your self-confidence will too.
- Stay Hydrated – Dehydration is responsible for headaches, dry skin, fatigue, and dizziness. These symptoms can cause you act in a negative manner if you feel overwhelmed. The standard rule of thumb is to drink either half your body weight in ounces in water, or try to drink 8 glasses or 64 ounces of water a day. Remembering eating raw veggies and fruit is also hydrating.
- Take Your Breaks — Don’t pass on those ten-minute work breaks. Chances are you won’t get paid for them anyway and you really are doing yourself a disservice. Use this time to relax and focus on something else that makes you laugh or just sit down and breathe. If you work for yourself, schedule in 10 to 15-minute breaks at least every four hours.
I usually try to do something like the Pomodoro method where I take a few minutes after each block of work.
- Ask for Help – Asking for help can be challenging for some people (like me!) but you should never be afraid to ask. Ask your friends and family to help you out every now and then to relieve some pressure off everyday tasks. More than likely they will be happy to help. If you are finding it hard to take care of yourself don’t be afraid to ask a professional either. Mental health is the most important.
- Learn to Say No – If you are overwhelmed, too busy, or just don’t want to do something saying no is perfectly fine. You have permission. Taking on too much work or doing things you don’t want to do leads to poor quality work and some unhappy people. Don’t do that to yourself. If you keep everything scheduled you can easily look at your calendar and say “No, that date doesn’t work for me”.
- Decompress – Take time out each day and relax. Get away from people or go get a massage, some coffee, or a cup of tea. Your time to decompress is important to a good attitude.
Feel free to adjust these ideas to your own individual needs and remember to make it simple. Some people find great comfort in knowing that they can take care of themselves, get away, and practice self care without guilt because it’s something they have a right to do.