We all know how trying everyday life can be. The minute you roll out of bed, it hits you that you have a long day ahead of you: feeding the dog and letting him out, prepare breakfast or just some coffee to go, slaving away at work. You might not even remember the last time you could sit in total silence and just breathe.
As you might imagine, you are not alone. In fact, it has been reported that nearly 30% of Canadians because the ages of 15 and 75 regularly experience high levels of stress at work. Of course, work is just one face of stress. Add children into the mix and their countless demands, and you must take away some more of your alone time. Caregiver for a sick relative? There goes more--if not all--of your opportunity to relax. Fortunately, as more research regarding the importance of self-care emerges, so do more clever tips to enjoy it--even for the busiest of people. Read on to learn all about self-care.
Self-Care in a Nutshell
Self-care is a fuzzy-sounding term with a relatively straightforward definition: it simply refers to anything you might do with the intention of improving your physical well-being or peace of mind, or both. For instance, perhaps even with your hectic schedule, you still set aside time to prepare yourself a healthy, well-balanced dinner. This could be considered an act of self-care. Other things people might do to improve their physical and mental health include going for a jog, meditating, taking a hot bath, or watching a favorite movie. In short, if it brings you some sense of pleasure, lowers your stress levels, and contributes to your general health, it can be considered self-care.
Why Self-Care is Important
Sometimes the things we find most rewarding are also the most exhausting. For instance, if you care for a severely ill parent, you likely take great pleasure in being able to provide for someone you love deeply. But there is one thing you have trouble admitting to yourself: it is hard, sometimes too hard. You might even feel as though taking a break to attend to your own needs would be selfish. Indeed, sometimes we think we need to wear our stress like a badge of honor. But understand that stress is not just a nagging nuisance to you. Below are some reasons you should take self-care seriously.
- Your Health Could Be at Stake. Yes, being overly stressed can actually affect your physical health. You might get frequent migraines, upset stomachs, even insomnia when all you want to do is sleep. Stress that goes unchecked for too long has even been associated with such conditions as hypertension and heart disease.
If you fall seriously ill, do you think you will be able to be the best caregiver you can be? Probably not. Not to mention, the people who care about you likely want the best for you. And that includes taking time for yourself.
- You Could Be Compromising Your Productivity. You might believe that doing more equals more accomplished. However, if you push yourself to the point of feeling ill or overly stressed, you could be harming your productivity rather than helping it. It has been established over the years that employees who experience the most stress take almost twice as many sick days as their less stressed counterparts. Even if you do not call off sick, can you really be performing your best if your mind is racing ceaselessly?
How to Practice Self-Care
Now that you know what self-care is and why you should practice it. But how can you get started? Below are some tips to help you develop your own self-care routine.
- Pamper yourself; practice great personal hygiene. Sure, even during times of stress, you might perform basic hygiene like brushing your teeth and showering. Sometimes, however, stressed people do not give themselves adequate time to attend to their grooming needs. Your self-care might involve a longer shower. You might even spend extra time styling your hair. It might not seem like much, but taking care of your appearance can help you feel more confident.
- Take time to enjoy healthy, satisfying meals. Most people understand the importance of healthy eating on both physical and mental health. But what about giving yourself the time to eat in the first place? Instead of wolfing down a bag of chips and sandwich at lunch, set time aside to prepare yourself a meal you will actually look forward to, one that ideally offers ample nutrition. Then, actually take your lunch break. Do not look at your phone. Do not try to sneak in work. Simply focus on eating and feeling satisfied.
- Spend time with the people you care about. Yes, sometimes it is hard to make plans when your schedule is packed. But even if you cannot go on a lunch date with your close friend, consider calling her just to chat. You do not have to discuss your woes; you can talk about whatever makes you happy, maybe even laugh a bit.
Want more advice about dealing with stress? Visit Oakville Wellness Center to get started.