Is self-care selfish?
Actually, we consider it to be quite the opposite. Self-care can be the catalyst for providing the people you love the most with even better care than what you could give them if you continue to ignore your own needs. Acts of service like taking care of others are a love language that heaps of us show our affection with, however, their effectiveness is greatly decreased if we don’t nurture our physical and emotional needs.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs delineates the needs that are imperative to functioning as a person in this crazy little world–arranged from the most basic to the deepest: physical, safety, love/belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Although it is the most essential of all the needs, our physical health is often put on the backburner.
Let’s get physical
Our physical bodies are temporary but that doesn’t mean we should forsake them. There are three foundations of wellness that need our care: sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
The benefits to recharging your body through a good night’s sleep are enough to not feel guilty for pushing the snooze button. Adequate sleep will help you control your weight, accelerate muscle recovery which in turn maximizes your exercise performance, and could possibly save your life if you are driving. With 1 in 3 Americans not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, sleepy drivers and distracted, lower quality conversations are a huge danger.
The body and mind are interlinked, so it’s no wonder that a good exercise session can have noteworthy effects on our mental states. The endorphins that are produced after a bike ride or yoga session make us happier in more ways than one. Exercise has been proven to heighten self-esteem and cognitive function while reducing depression, anxiety and negative feelings
What we eat and how we eat are both equally important to our physical and psychological well being. Diet choices that are high in fast food, sugar and processed meat are linked to depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and diabetes. Even factors like mealtimes and whether kids get involved in food preparation can determine future eating habits which will impact our overall health.
Strengthen your bonds
The Mental Health Foundation’s definition of a relationship is “the way in which two or more people are connected, or the state of being connected”. One of the domains of self-care that we’d like to pay special attention to is that of our relationships; be they family members, friends, work colleagues, healthcare professionals, teachers, pets or lovers.
In order to feel that you truly belong in a community, your connections simply cannot be shallow. Being human is not something that we are meant to experience alone, and thankfully there are 7.6 billion people in the world to accompany us on this journey.
There’s a misconception that more is better. In the relationship arena though, quality rules over quantity. Quality relationships with your family, friends and community can lead to physically healthier bodies and less mental health issues than those who are better connected to the people in their lives. Apart from that, good connections are vital for living a longer life that is filled with a sense of purpose and belonging.
5 Ways to Jump on the Self-Care Bandwagon:
1. Stop talking to yourself like you are your worst enemy!
Self-talk can drastically change how we experience the world. It can shape your mood and stress levels; ultimately deciding whether you perceive a busy day to be overwhelming or as an opportunity to overcome a challenge.
2. Indulge in experiences instead of things.
Our brains get used to things extremely easily and experience “hedonic adaptation” when we repeatedly expose ourselves to the same things. A museum trip with a friend or a microadventure wild camping an hour or two outside of your city can be an act of self-care.
3. Invest in close relationships.
Sometimes people have been in our lives so long that we start to forsake them. Take time to foster strong connections with people and let them know how grateful you are that they exist simultaneously with you.
4. Get a little nostalgic and send some snail mail.
The amount of mail we send has fallen by 43% since 2001. However, an overwhelming majority of people agree that receiving something in the mail makes them feel special. So, get that stationary and pen out!
5. Pet a dog, cat or any animal of preference.
Research has found that a mere 10 minutes of petting an animal can produce a significant reduction in the infamous stress hormone, cortisol. That is enough to make us want to head over to our nearest friend who owns a pet, ASAP.
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