“Self-care” is defined as “any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.”
To some people, self-care is at the opposite end of the spectrum of traditional health care: doctors provide medical care to patients, and patients provide self-care to themselves.
In general, self-care is any practice that involves treating your own body or mind. Taking a day off work to go hiking is self-care. Taking a multivitamin every day is self-care. Completing daily mindfulness exercises is self-care. Relaxing in a bath is self-care.
The Importance of Self-Care: Top 3 Reasons to Consider Taking More Time to Care for Yourself
- Stress Management: Working hard is important. Being a workaholic, however, is rarely good for your health. Too much work can be stressful. Stress is one of the worst things to do to your personal health. Stress leads to weight gain. Stress thickens your blood and clogs your arteries. Stress exacerbates the risk of virtually every disease. Self-care is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce stress.
- A Healthier Work-Life Balance: Some people spend so much time on other people that they forget to care for themselves. This leads to a poor work-life balance, leaving you disorganized and depleted – both emotionally and physically.
- Life’s Too Short Not to Treat Yourself: You only get one life. Some people work hard their whole lives – only to die of a heart attack their first week of retirement. You can find plenty of motivational quotes dealing with this subject, but it’s true: life is about the journey and not the destination. Self-care helps you enjoy yourself on the journey through life.
How to Practice Self-Care Today
Many people read articles like this and think, “That’s great – I can’t wait to practice self-care sometime in the future.”
However, there’s no better time to care for yourself than today. Start immediately after reading this article. Some ways to start include:
Exercise: Sweating out your toxins and stress is one of the best and easiest forms of self-care. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Go for a run or ride a bike. Find a type of exercise you enjoy – whether it’s playing pick-up basketball or exploring the mountains.
Disconnect: Much of our stress comes from the internet and our constant connection to it via our phones. Your phone is always connected to the outside world. Your phone reminds you when you have work emails. Your phone’s Facebook feed reminds you that there are people who are more successful than you. Disconnect for a few hours and see how much better you feel.
Be Social: For some people, self-care involves staying as far away from people as possible. I get it. For others, self-care involves hanging out with people you love and enjoy, like friends and family. Others can practice self-care while socializing at a bar or going to a concert. Mix it up.
Read a Book: This one’s easy. Find yourself a comfortable seat and get lost in a book.
Watch Something Comfortable and Funny: So you’ve seen every episode of The Office or Friends at least twice. So what? If it’s a show you enjoy, then watch it again. A good show – particularly a funny TV show – is some of the best self-care you can get. It’s like relaxing with old friends – except that you can wear your underwear and eat popcorn on your couch guilt-free while doing so.
The Top 5 Benefits of Self-Care
Self-care is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. If we didn’t have to work for a living, we’d all be doing self-care all day, every day. Some of the best benefits of self-care include:
You’ll feel more grateful about the things you have. Like Sheryl Crow sang, “It’s not having what you want; it’s wanting what you’ve got.” Whether it’s your good health or a safe job, you’ve got something to be thankful for.
Boost your immune system. You can take as many vitamins as you want, but self-care is one of the best things you can do for your health. Relaxing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which puts your body into “rest and restore” mode.
Find out more about yourself. Find out what makes you “tick” and what makes you relax with self-care.
Be more productive. By separating your life into “work” and “self-care” modes, you can be more productive at both.
Improve your physical and mental health. Self-care is a proven way to boost your physical and mental welling.
Ultimately, you only get one body, one life, and one mind. Self-care improves all three. Practice self-care to start living a healthier, more fulfilling life today.