October 3rd, 2017
Life is often so hectic and stressful that we somehow forget to look after ourselves. Most of us plow through life and get to the end of each day with an overwhelming sense of exhaustion, before crashing and getting up again the next morning to do it all over again.
But have you ever stopped to consider the importance of self-care? As well as the importance of giving yourself time to relax, refresh and recuperate on a daily basis? I’m also talking about gaining perspective and changing your attitudes to help you deal with everything life throws at you.
I can’t emphasize enough just how important it is to incorporate purposeful self-care into your life. If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. And ultimately you will suffer the consequences in many different forms and shapes. You’ll then be stuck in a place of unhappiness or even worse you’ll feel exhausted, drained and sick…
Taking care of YOU is not a luxury. When you don’t make your well-being a priority, almost everything else in your life goes downhill. When you don’t direct time and energy to your needs and your health:
- Your stress levels are higher
- You have less focus and are more easily distracted
- You have less energy and motivation to follow through on your goals
- A lot of people engage in low-quality behavior to meet their needs that aren’t being. Low quality behaviors are for instance emotional/stress eating, drinking too much, smoking and wasting time surfing online
- It affects your relationships
- You have low-quality sleep (or sacrificed)
- It’s common to feel more irritable, impatient or more easily frustrated
- Your creativity suffers and there is usually less play and fun in your life
- Health is adversely affected
So Why Do People Not Care For Themselves?
- We mix up self-care with being selfish – Selfish behavior can harm others, whereas self-care is intentional and helps the self. You can simply ask yourself the question. Will my behavior hurt others? If your answer is no, then you are not selfish and you can let go of the guilt. Self-care is an effective antidote to stress, it builds resilience and allows us to better deal with life’s challenges.
- We don’t realize our own worth – Our sense of worth and value as a person comes from our self-esteem. This is often shaped by the messages we received while growing up from parents, friends and teachers. If you neglect your (basic) needs, you don’t dress well, get enough sleep, eat properly, or exercise you’ll fail to thrive. How are you going to feel good about yourself if you don’t treat yourself good. It’s a bit similar to the chicken and egg story – you feel bad about yourself so your self-care slips, your self-esteem plummets further which makes your self-care even worse.
- We have become pathologically selfless – It feels so good to help others and it makes us feel important. While helping others is admireable, it goes too far when you’re ignoring your own (basic) needs. Also, once your body breaks down, you’re exhausted and life is no longer joyful then it’s also hard to help anyone else.
- We have taken the “hard work pays off” mentality too far – A lot of us grew up believing that the more we sacrifice the bigger the reward. We figure that pushing us to the point of exhaustion just has to pay off. But we can take this too far to the point where it becomes counterproductive. You might still think that you are working hard, but your abilities are worn, your skills aren’t as sharp and you lose focus. The simple fact is that self-care helps you progress faster as it helps you refocus and prevents overload burnout.
- We have let ourselves slip into unworkable lives – Due to the everyday pressures of combining a career and parenthood, paying a steep mortage, maintaining social media channels, it’s oh-so-easy to grab a hamburger on the run, skip that workout, shorten our sleep time to finish that report, until we’ve cut out everything out of our lives that once gave us pleasure and kept our minds sane.
What Can You Do?
The good news is that you can quickly incorporate some simple mini self-care practices into your daily life. The following 30 self-care strategies are necessary gifts to oneself and both alleviate and prevent adrenal fatigue:
- Create joyful rituals. Easy rituals like making your bed and drinking lemon water in the morning ground your day and no matter what life throws at you, at least you’ll come back home each day to a made bed.
- Date with yourself. Spend a few hours on an activity that nourishes you (a hobby, reading, visiting a gallery or museum etc.)
- Get positive feedback. Ask 3 of your close friends what they love about you.
- Write out your thoughts. Write down anything that’s bothering you for 15 minutes. Then let it all go as you bin or burn the paper.
- Pamper yourself with a home spa. Take a long shower or bath, sit around in your bathrobe, and read your favorite magazine/book.
- Have a good laugh. Watch a comedy show or a funny clip on youtube. I find this one is hilarious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgzdb0txR_c
- Get out of your comfort zone. This can even be brushing your teeth on one leg.
- Decide who you want to hang out with today. Hang out with positive people who radiate enthusiasm and positivity, and not negative people whose pessimism and negativity rob you of your energy.
- Hug someone. This can be someone you know, a stranger or even a tree. Hugging increases production of the “love hormone” oxytocin. This hormone causes your heart rate to slow down, your blood pressure to drop and brings relief to any tension you may feel.
- Start a compliments file. Write down the great things people say about you to read later.
- Connect. Make a small connection to someone in the supermarket, a barista or a sales assistant. Just have a few sentences of conversation.
- Declutter. Recycle 3 things from your wardrobe that you don’t regularly wear or love.
- Take another route to work. Changing your routine in small ways creates new neural pathways in your brains and keeps them healthy.
- Be selfish, just do one thing today that makes you happy.
- Say “no” to something you don’t feel like doing today. Saying no to others is really saying YES to yourself.
- Look at your social media feeds, and get rid of any negative people. Tip, you don’t have to delete them, you can just “mute” them.
- Unplug for an hour. Switch your electronic devices to airplane mode and pause the constant flow of e-mail, whatsapp and social media notifications.
- Run (or walk, depending on your personal physical situation) for a couple of minutes. Or go four times up and down the stairs.
- Get outside and enjoy nature for 15-20 minutes. And while you are outside, oxygenate your body by taking deep breathts.
- Inhale an upbeat smell. You can try peppermint to boost mood and motivation and suppress food cravings.
- Stroke a pet. If you don’t have one, go outside and find one (but make sure to ask first!).
- Spend some cash. Treat yourself to a small luxury as a way of valuing yourself.
- Dance like nobody’s watching. Put on your favorite song and shake your booty.
- Make room for flowers in your home. They will brighten up your space and surely make you feel more upbeat.
- Get to know yourself intimately. Look at your naked body lovingly and without judgement. Use a mirror to really get to know the whole you.
- Get in tune with your emotions. Sit quietly for a few minutes and just describe to yourself without judgement what you are feeling.
- Take a quick nap. Just 10 to 20 minutes will boost your memory, cognitive skills, creativity, and energy levels.
- Just be You. You are Enough. You are Perfect. You are Enough. You are Invaluable.
- Remember to get help when you are struggling – whether that is through counselling, therapy, or just by talking to a trusted friend or family member. To seek help is strength, not weakness!