Self care is crucial to our sanity if we want to live a happier and healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, this gets neglected more often that not. As a result, we’re overwhelmed with a larger amount of stress than we should be handling. We increase our risks of depression, become anxious and lose motivation in the process. The importance of self care is deemed selfish or inconsiderate by many because it’s considered a “luxury.” In reality, if you don’t take care of your emotional and physical well being, you’ll fall apart sooner or later. Illness and chronic diseases may follow. Don’t wait until it’s too late to undo the damage.
Many of us grew up believing that the more we sacrificed, the bigger the reward. Nothing comes easy in life. We work hard to build a good lifestyle for ourselves and our family. When is it enough and at what cost? There comes a time when you need to assess where that happy balance lies. If your job is wearing you down and you’re unable to handle the overload of stress, this will spill over into other areas and into your personal relationships. Your mental and physical health will be severely impacted. The moment you stop taking care of yourself, the more unhappy you will become. Yet, you persevere because that’s what you know how to do best. There’s nothing you haven’t been able to work through before. You’ll get through your circumstances one way or another. The problem with this daily grind is that although this may be manageable in the short run, the long term effects will be detrimental on your health in more ways than one.
Self care is important in maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It’s sometimes referred to as self love. When you take care of yourself, you are more productive, efficient and energetic. You have higher self-esteem and confidence in your capabilities. You are focused and are motivated to get through your day in the best way possible. You exercise regularly to relieve your stress which improves your mental stability. You adopt healthier eating habits and feel better from inside out. You’ve got a good handle in dealing with issues at work and in your personal life. You’re a better caregiver.
It’s so easy to fall off the wagon once you stop taking care of yourself and let everything consume you. We’re human and things will happen every day to test us. Instead of freaking out, the first thing you need to do is to breathe. This is one of the most basic but essential necessities of life which is often forgotten! Take a moment in your busy life and have a time out. You may need to do this several times throughout the day or whenever you’re stressed. Close your eyes for several seconds and zone out. Don’t think about anything else except for your breath. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale… Take as long as you need. This small effort at meditation can work wonders for your mental health! See my previous articles on the reasons why you should meditate, also backed up by scientific research.
Make alone time for yourself. Just like everything else you plan in your life, schedule it in. Whether this means going to the gym, taking a fitness class, going to meditation, reading a book or taking a walk, do something that makes you feel good and will help you balance out and decompress from your daily routine. If you don’t have an hour, start with a smaller timeframe and work your way up. If it’s important to you, you will make time and not excuses. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? For my busy mom and dads, sure it may be more challenging but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Remember being healthy is a lifestyle.
Keeping a journal is a great idea in taking care of your mental health. When you’re overwhelmed and your emotions are all over the place, write them down instead of reacting impulsively. Journaling is like purging and can be very therapeutic. In a study from the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, researchers found that journaling for 15–20 minutes helped study participants cope with traumatic, stressful, or emotional events.
There are many reasons why self-care is important in helping us staying healthy in mind, body and soul. Finding a good balance in our mental and physical well being will help us feel more fulfilled in life. By taking care of ourselves, we can take better care of others. We will be able to manage our conditions in a positive manner instead of breaking down easily. Our levels of stress will decrease. We won’t feel bad about ourselves because we’re exercising regularly and making healthier choices. When we look good, we feel good. We become more confident in our abilities. We’re happier because of the choices we make. So what are you waiting for? Don’t wait until it’s too late, make positive changes today!
Cindy Lai Fitness
NASM – CPT
Holistic Health Coach