If you have ever been on a plane, you have likely heard the flight attendant’s instructions in case of an emergency. In the event of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop in front of every passenger. Adults are instructed to place an oxygen mask on themselves before assisting children. The truth of the matter is, you cannot effectively help anyone else until you help yourself, which is why self-care is so important.
For some, the idea of self-caring may seem selfish. Who has the time for self-caring when you are busy running around working, maintaining your home, and caring for your family? But have you ever stopped to think how much more efficient you would be at all those things if you cared for yourself, first?
There is nothing selfish about caring for yourself. In fact, understanding the importance of caring for yourself and learning how to do it may make certain aspects of your life easier. While it may sound impossible to achieve, self-care is rather simple.
Why is Self-Care Important?
You go into work on a Monday morning and find projects piling up on your desk. You get home and realize you must make dinner, clean up the kitchen, and get kids ready for bed. By the time the day is done, you are far too exhausted to consider doing anything for yourself.
As you move through the week, each day continues to worsen. By Friday, you haven’t completed your tasks at work. Your house seems like it’s in a disarray. Perhaps you have a sick kid or two. To catch back up, you decide to let certain things slide.
You decide against taking a lunch break. You determine that you are too tired to watch your favorite TV show. The gym is not important and it can wait until life slows back down. Perhaps you even decide to put your social life on hold because what busy person has time to get out and see friends?
A sizable percentage of the population is familiar with the scenarios described. Many people let certain aspects of their life go when they feel stressed. Those aspects may not seem important, but they are all apart of self-care.
If you fail to care for yourself before caring for others, you may find yourself stressed, sick, exhausted, and falling even further behind. By caring for yourself, you are decreasing your stress, ensuring you are awake and alert, and avoiding many mental, emotional, and physical ailments.
Many people believe that the more you are willing to sacrifice, the bigger the reward you will reap. However, you often lose more than you receive when you sacrifice yourself. Arduous work does indeed pay off, but if you push yourself too much without considering the benefits of self-caring, that demanding work becomes counterproductive.
Eventually, you may find yourself experiencing the following issues:
- Inability to sleep
- Mood swings
The side effects mentioned are just some of the issues you can experience when you do not care for yourself. Unfortunately, all those side effects can have a negative impact on every aspect of your life.
Tips for Self-Care
There are plenty of ways you can practice self-care without taking too much time out of your day. The following are just some ways you can provide yourself with a greater sense of personal care.
Reduce Your Stress
Start by reducing stress factors in your life. Stress is often the biggest contributing factor for a lack of self-caring. If you feel stressed, you are likely to shirk certain activities that would contribute to your health and well-being.
You can reduce stress by:
- Identifying warning signs
- Addressing sources of stress
- Accepting factors in your life that you cannot control
- Exercising, meditating, deep breathing, or talking our your issues
Set and Complete Goals
Setting goals can help you maintain yourself and your daily tasks. Set goals to improve your sense of self by:
- Making an appointment for a physical
- Taking a break at least once a day so you can have 30 minutes to yourself
- Making it a point to go for a brief, 10-minute walk a few times a week
Seek Out Solutions
Seeking solutions to problems can help you care for yourself more adequately. You can seek out solutions by:
- Identifying the source of your problems
- Listing out all viable solutions
- Trying one of the solutions you listed
- Determining your results and finding out how well your chose solution worked
- Trying another solution if necessary
- Making use of resources, which may include asking others for help or suggestions
Ask for Help and Accept It
There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Everyone needs to ask for help from time-to-time. Asking for help does not make you weak. In fact, asking for help can allow you to better care for yourself. You can ask friends and family members to assist you.
For instance, you can ask a friend or family member to watch your kids one night so that you can take a much-needed break. You should also not be afraid to seek out possible therapy for help. Asking a therapist to help you with self-care is a great solution.
A therapist can help you identify problem areas and list out possible ways to improve your sense of self-caring. Believe it or not, simply finding someone to communicate your problems to can lift a weight off your shoulders. Make an appointment to talk to a therapist more in depth about self-caring for the benefit of yourself and those around you.
Monica Ramunda is a solution-focused therapist with an office located in Louisville, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).