Are you taking care of yourself? When it comes to our health, one of the most important things we can do is practice self-care. Let’s discuss what exactly self-care is, what it isn’t and how to do it.
Self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” It is also defined as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” In other words, it’s critical for each of us to practice our own version of self-care daily.
The Importance of Self-Care
Even though self-care isn’t recognized as an official health remedy or treatment, it is still essential for good health. Benefits of self-care can include the following:
Helps boost self-esteem. Believing in yourself and having self-confidence are essential for success and trying new things.
Reminds you that you’re important too. Many times, people will put others first, sacrificing their own needs and wants in the process. Self-care gently reminds a person they are important too, and their happiness and well-being should be made a priority.
Makes your health a priority. Self-care means to watch what you eat, manage stress levels, and get the exercise your body needs. Without good health, everything else is secondary.
Maintain a healthy life balance. Practicing self-care prompts you to seek a healthy balance in all aspects of your life, including work and home life.
Helps manage stress. Chronic, long term stress has been linked to a variety of health issues, including insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure, obesity and countless other ailments. Self-care allows you to pause, take a step back and gather yourself before these situations become too overwhelming.
What Self-Care is Not
It’s important to understand what constitutes self-care and what it is not:
Selfishness. There’s a big difference between putting yourself first and being selfish. Making your overall health and well-being a top priority does not equate to having no regard or concern for others. Neither is putting others down to get ahead.
Seeking attention. Self-care doesn’t mean trying to get attention to show people how wonderful you are.
Pleasing everyone. Attempting to please everyone can lead to you to try too hard and overextending yourself. The end result could put unnecessary pressure on yourself, and end up not pleasing anyone at all.
Eating comfort foods with little nutritional value. That piece of cake, cookies or greasy cheeseburger and large soda may taste good help you feel better short term, but long term the extra sodium, sugar, salt and fat are wreaking havoc on your health.
Overspending. While buying clothes or other material items might help you feel good short term, it can cause you to rack up large credit card bills and increasing debt over time.
These and many other examples of incorrect self-care can do more harm than good and should be avoided.
There are many ways to practice self-care. Here are a few of the most popular self-care practices:
Eat a healthy diet. Eating nutritious foods can help keep the body strong and decrease your risk of sickness and disease.
Connect with loved ones. Spending quality time with family and friends can help decrease stress and increase self-confidence.
Exercise daily. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and release endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemical.
Meditate. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, ease anxiety and improve focus. Each of these are all important self-help qualities.
Get adequate rest. Sleep is essential to good health and quality of life. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to a myriad of health issues, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
Self-care is an excellent way to maintain good health. Don’t wait until you’re sick to start taking better care of yourself. Incorporate self-help into your lifestyle today. Your body will thank you.