Self-care: it's a term that people toss around a lot. It seems like everybody is going on about the benefits of self-care. That's especially true in the current social and political climate, where life can seem hectic.
Why, though? The term gets used all the time, but there's not always a "why" attached to it. Why is self-care important? What's the point in anyone practicing it?
These questions are ones people can find themselves asking about self-care. Without anyone taking the time to explain the benefits, it's tempting to ignore the message.
What is self-care anyway?
Self-care, simply put, means taking care of yourself!
How that plays out is going to depend on the person and the situation. Sometimes, it will look like folding the laundry that's been sitting around for days. Other times, it will look like building a pillow fort. Sometimes, it will look like eating lunch before writing a long piece about self-care. It's about making a conscious decision to do what's in a person's own best interest.
Why is self-care important?
Now that the "what" of self-care is clear, it's time to get into the "why" of it all. A lot of people are dismissive of the concept of self-care because it’s become a buzzword. Other people are hesitant to try it out because it sounds like a bunch of fluff to them. Whatever the reasoning, many people simply don’t see the benefits of self care.
There are numerous practical benefits of self-care. Here are three aspects to consider:
Mental health is becoming a greater part of public conversations about overall health, but it's still something that many people tend to overlook. The fact of the matter is that when a person struggles with their mental health, their overall health also takes a toll. When that's the case, they can't work or manage stress effectively.
If someone is unable to manage their stress in a healthy way, then it will be increasingly difficult to do much of anything. Ultimately, this lack of care will worsen their mental health which can lead to a vicious circle. For instance, if a person's psychological wellbeing is declining, they might lose focus at work or become more disconnected from loved ones. These situations can easily snowball into a more serious breakdown if left unaddressed.
Self-care is essential to everyone’s daily functioning. When people take care of their mental health, they ensure that they can succeed in their everyday lives.
What can a person do to care for their mental wellbeing? There are all kinds of self-care ideas that can be beneficial for the mind and body! Anything that gives a person a moment away from a stressor to recuperate can have a lot of benefits.
If someone experiences stress 24/7, then their physical health will be affected at some point or another. Self-care benefits include improved heart health, reduced risk of insomnia, and increased resistance to all kinds of diseases. Who doesn't want that?
Taking care of your physical body can also improve your mental health. Sleeping better means more mental clarity and more energy while awake. Those are both components of mental health and physical health.
Physical activity and exercise is a great way of taking care of yourself. The catch, though, is that it should be an enjoyable physical activity. In other words, you should skip the treadmill if it's the pool that's more appealing. Putting yourself through misery can be counterintuitive. As with mental self-care, it's all about feeling good while doing something enjoyable!
Healthy eating is another vital part of physical (and overall) self-care. That means eating balanced meals with plenty of nutrients—and making sure to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. That's not to say you can’t enjoy sweets! It's simply about balance and avoiding excess.
Self-care isn't just about taking care of yourself. When someone practices self-care regularly, everybody benefits from it! People like being around each other when everyone feels good - not just a few.
When people see the benefits of self-care in action, they're likely to take action and engage in personal self-care themselves. If someone models good self-care habits, it can create a ripple effect, resulting in positive habits and good health that spreads universally.
Spending time in good company is itself a form of self-care. After all, very few people walk away from a bitter argument feeling better than when they walked into it.
This idea of "stepping away" extends to the digital world, too. When arguments on social media about whichever controversial topic become too much, it's best to just step away. Spending time in the real world—or look at sloth memes—to relax is a much better idea!
So, why is self-care important? It increases a person's overall health—as well as the health of the community. Physical, mental, and social health are all incredibly important and need proper attention. Not only that, but self-care feels good of course!
With all of that in mind, self-care can take time and discipline. It may not be easy at first, but the benefits are well worth it.