The Importance of Self Care
You’re overwhelmed at work. You have a lot’s of projects piling up and your calendar is packed with overdue tasks. To make room for all of this stuff, you start to skip lunch, stop going to the gym and forget about your social life. When we’re stressed, self-care is usually the first thing to go. Everything else is quickly falling downhill from there.
“Self-care” may sound a bit fluffy but on a closer look, it’s just a few basic habits that are crucial to your functioning. Most of us grew up believing that the more you sacrifice, the bigger the reward. The point is, it’s easy to take the “hard work pays off” adage too far, to the point that it becomes counterproductive. You become worn out. You are not as sharp as you used to be and you lose focus. You might think you’re working hard, and maybe you are in some ways, but you’re not working efficiently.
Protect Your Schedule
according to research from John Pencavel of Stanford University (PDF). He found that after about 50 hours of work, employee productivity and output plummets. One major cause of overtime is taking on work that could be delegated. See below examples and strategies on how to do it:
- The Deferral: “I’m swamped right now, but feel free to follow up.”
- The Referral: “I’m not qualified to do what you’re asking, but here’s something else.”
- The Introduction: “This isn’t in my wheelhouse, but I know someone who might be helpful.”
Of course, sometimes you just have a boss or manager that asks for too much. In that case, you may need to schedule a time to discuss your workload and your responsibilities. It’s easier said than done, and not all bosses will understand the need for self-care, unfortunately. However, it’s a better option than simply continuing to say yes.
Self Care Isn’t Just Important, It’s Crucial
Practice Good Emotional Hygiene
The physical aspect is obviously important, but when a lot of people talk about self-care, they’re talking about emotional health: dealing with stress, anxiety, sadness, depression. And that’s probably because we tend to ignore it more. As psychologist Guy Winch asks, “We brush and floss but what daily activity do we do to maintain our psychological health?”
When you’re feeling any kind of intense emotion — stress or anger, for instance — it helps to take a quick break to process it. What exactly are you feeling, and why? It might help to run down a list of feeling words to help better pinpoint your emotion.
Spend Your Time (and Money) on What Matters
Sometimes being busy feels good but sometimes, real progress means being unproductive. It can be hard to put tasks and obligations on hold, but sometimes that’s exactly what you have to do in the spirit of self-care.
Focus on the “one big thing” each day that will make you feel accomplished, as business coach Mark McGuinness suggests. This way, you’re aware of what really matters to you, which makes it easier to prioritise your time accordingly.
And your money is a lot like your time. We all spend it wastefully every now and then, and that’s to be expected, but ultimately, you want to spend it on what matters to you. When we’re stressed, it’s common to spend mindlessly. That usually makes things worse, because money is a huge source of stress for a lot of us.
Make Time to Eat Well and Exercise, Even If You’re Busy
Examples for inner Self-Care
- Make a date with yourself. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you, for example, reading, your hobby, walking around the neighbourhood, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.
- Praise yourself when you do something awesome.
- Read books and watch the movies you enjoy.
- Paint or write something that lets out your creative energy.
- Learn something new, research something you’re interested in.
- Take a class for fun.
- Take a quick nap. Only 10 to 20 minutes can reduce your sleep debt and leave you ready for action.
- Learn mindfulness or connect with a spiritual practice that vibes with you.
Examples for outer Self-Care
- Eating the right things affects our mental and physical health. Try to eat regular healthy meals, limit fatty, sugary treats and drink lots of water.
- Have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, and read magazines.
- Help someone. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up an extra carton of milk for a neighbour.
- Stretch. 5-10 minutes to get out the kinks helps your body and mind.
- Play with pets. Some are considered a humans best friend and help you to calm down and relax.
- Give your body comfort. Pick something from your wardrobe that feels great next to your skin.
- Spend time with real friends and other people who lift you up.
- Be active – being physically active improves your strength fitness and confidence which can also help you sleep better and the ability to manage intense emotions like anger or fear. Find something that you enjoy and can do on a regular basis like yoga, working out or walking a dog. Find a friend you can exercise with and who can help you to stay motivated
- Reduce stress – Stress is one of our most common modern day problems that connects with many health problems. To reduce it you can connect with people to feel a sense of belonging. Talk openly with your friends and family about how you feel. Get organised and manage your time – make a list of things you need to do and prioritise. Learn to relax. This might be listening to music or going for a run, or you might benefit from meditating or doing guided relaxation using an app like Smiling Mind.
- Limit or avoid alcohol and drugs
- Nourish Your Skin: Rich, luxurious creams smell wonderful and feel smooth, especially if you exfoliate your skin in the tub before putting them on.