This week we are honored to feature the following article by guest blogger Brad Krause! Brad created Self Caring after years spent putting his own self-care on the back burner. Brad discovered his real calling-helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. His website is intended to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his self-care journey.
Self-care is simply the act of giving yourself everything you need to be happy and healthy. As selfish as it may sound, how you care for yourself affects your ability to care for your family and your obligations at work. Perhaps most importantly, practicing self-care is good for your mental health.
One way to think about self-care is imagining being on an airplane when the oxygen mask drops. Your priority is your family, but you can’t care for them if you’re unconscious, so you need to put your mask on first. When viewed from this perspective, it’s easy to see the importance of fueling yourself both physically and mentally.
No matter how indulgent it may sound, you should never neglect self-care. Here’s why:
- Self-worth. According to Forbes, practicing self-care will help you maintain a healthy relationship with the one who matters most, yourself. It provides a confidence boost and can increase self-esteem. Furthermore, self-care is a necessary means to remind others in your life that your needs are also important.
- Balance. No matter what your boss tells you, overworking yourself won’t get you anywhere, since you won’t live long enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You must learn how to pull away from your obligations or risk a host of health problems, including insomnia, depression and heart disease.
- Live vs. exist. When you spend all of your time catering to the needs of others, you fall into a routine of existence and don’t ever fully enjoy living. You only have a set number of days on this Earth, and practicing self-care allows you to enjoy them to the fullest.
- Physical health. Self-care allows you to focus on your physical health, which will in turn have a positive effect on your emotional well-being. Essentially, when you feel good, you are more likely to make positive changes in your life at all levels.
You don’t have to devote an entire day each week to self-care practices. No matter how busy your schedule, there is always time to do something that enhances your quality of life.
- It starts at home. One of the simplest things you can do today to reduce stress and give yourself time to focus on self-care is to simply optimize your home to encourage stress-free living. Decluttering your living space will also help you relax on a fundamental level. While you don’t have to jump headfirst into the minimalist movement, your home should be well-organized and open. Take a weekend to remove anything that doesn’t make you happy and limit your “stuff” to the things you must have -- food, clothing and furniture. Don’t be afraid to let go of belongings you have to take care of that do nothing to take care of you. Along with your decluttering efforts, give your home a one-time deep cleaning.
- Eat well. This is often easier said than done, especially for those of us who have families to support, careers to build, or both. Still, eating nutritiously is a pillar in living a healthy life, so it’s something you should strive for in your self-care routine. One option is to sign up for a meal delivery service, which can be a surprisingly effective way to maintain a healthy diet. These services take the guesswork out of which fresh ingredients you need for wholesome recipes, or they can even provide healthy, pre-portioned, ready-to-go meals, leaving you no excuses for hitting the drive-through window. Many meal delivery companies charge less than $10 per meal.
- Exercise. As Health aptly points out, exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Physical activity helps you destress and releases chemicals that make you feel good.
- Sleep. A silent epidemic sweeping the nation is sleep deprivation. Harvard Medical School explains that sleep disorders are not simply symptoms of a psychiatric disorder, but may actually cause them. Sleeping eight hours each night can improve your overall mental health, and circumvent chronic fatigue and emotional vulnerability.
- Love your looks. This can be very challenging, but learning to love and accept your appearance is vital to your mental health. If you’re struggling with this, it’s okay to maintain a healthy beauty regimen—science has shown that using cosmetic products boosts confidence and self-esteem. And if your hair has lost its shine, you can treat it with keratin, a protein that can strengthen damaged hair. Caring for your appearance is also a great way to express yourself.
- Take control of your day. Your day-to-day actions are likely dictated not by your desires, but by the whims and requests of others. Learn how to say “no” to requests that interfere with your self-care abilities. For instance, you don’t have to cover for your coworker every Friday morning so he can take his children to band practice.
The way you care for yourself directly impacts your health today and tomorrow. It is only when you find a balance and are willing to indulge your own needs that you will truly be healthy and happy. You don’t have to make drastic life changes. Give yourself a soothing environment at home and learn to take control of your own schedule.