Wisdom//

Self-Care is Not Selfish

The epic importance of self-preservation!

Courtesy of Alena Ozerova / Shutterstock
Courtesy of Alena Ozerova / Shutterstock

The speedy, ever-efficient, and output-based work has only one consequence: burnout. “We’ve all been there: you push yourself to the point that you can’t take anymore so you just give up. Self-care helps you avoid getting to that point,” writes Kristin Wong of Lifehacker.

Self-care isn’t just important, it’s crucial.

A recent Gallup poll found that Companies are facing an employee burnout crisis. And it’s costing our health to the tune of $100+ billion per year.

“Today, for billions of knowledge workers, work means using your head and your heart — not your hands. Doing that for eight straight hours daily is mentally and emotionally exhausting in a way that assembly line work just isn’t,” writes Dominic Price of Atlassian.

Over time, the intense cognitive load takes a toll if you don’t stop and do something intentional about it to change the pace and direction of your life.

Self-care is the opposite of overwhelmed.

In short, self-care is care provided for you, by you, says Deborah Serani Psy.D.

Psychologists have spent decades helping people feel better and counter the stresses and strains of everyday life.

Without the restorative power of self-care, you won’t be able to escape the vicious circle in our busy, modern world.

Self-care as a tool allows you to take responsibility for your own physical, emotional, psychological and social needs.

Self-care is recharging your body as reliably as you charge your iPhone. It means turning off the tv and going to bed on time to get good sleep. Self-care means making exercise a priority. It means eating more healthy foods and drinking more water. It means investing in resources to improve your life and career. Self-care is saying no when it matters, to be prepared for a better yes when next time.

Self-care is not something you do once in a while to regain your sanity. It’s what you do every day, every week, month in and month out to stay.

Self-care isn’t a guilty pleasure; it’s an important part of your wellness. It’s a preventative measure that can help you overcome the stress of life. Without it, we can’t give as much of ourselves to our audience, customers, clients and those we care about.

The elements of life that improve our total well-being including focusing on high-value work, declining low-impact tasks, managing attention, exercise, a better sleep schedule, quality time with close relations should not be taken lightly. It pays to find calm in your hectic life.

Unless we recognise that time spent recharging, replenishing, and restoring your energy counts as productive time, burnout is only going to get worse.

The Gallup study says job burnout accounts for an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion in health-care spending each year and has been attributed to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, high cholesterol and even death for those under the age of 45.”

Burnout is becoming an epidemic.

The excessive hard work habit is already bad enough in Japan that there is now legislation in place to limit the number of hours employees can be expected to work and require workers to take at least five vacation days a year.

Self-care is a preventative action but millions of people ignore it when other things, and people, vie for their time and attention.

They only embrace more self-care habits when something tragic happens.

Self-care is a long-term pursuit that self-knowledge and courage.

“Self-care is a discipline. It requires tough-mindedness, a deep and personal understanding of your priorities, and a respect for both yourself and the people you choose to spend your life with,” writes Tami Forman of Forbes.

A self-care challenge

To prioritise self-care, challenge yourself to explore more ways to take care of your self in the next 30 days whilst you still focus on delivering your best work every day.

To make the process easy to adopt, you can prioritise some of these activities in your schedule: take a long evening walk, dance to good music, enjoy a good meal with close relations, go to your favourite coffee shop and order a special drink and mindfully enjoy it, take piano, drawing or painting lessons, read (reread) your favourite book, start a journaling habit, sit in nature, or do a relaxing activity you’ve always wanted to do.

Aim for activities that are not triggers for other tasks. Plan to be present and aware of what is driving your actions.

When you create a self-care plan, you are saving yourself from being completely sucked into a cycle that only ends in stress.

You deliberately fill your plan with your favourite self-care activities.

Commit to doing something purely for its self-care benefit at least once a week — although daily would be better if you can invest at least 15 minutes daily.

You can even keep a “self-care journal” and record the steps you are taking each day to recharge and replenish. You can also document what’s working and not working for you to improve or change when necessary.

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.

Make sure your approach to self-care is well rounded.

If you tend towards over-allocating time toward work, develop a time budget and create time for self-care activities.

Once you understand the size of your time budget, you can allocate both work and personal care activities better.

Add self-care activities in your daily or weekly schedule, and remember to start small to make it a habit. Focus on something you will consistently enjoy.

The process is more important than the goal. Use a reminder if it helps.

It’s a practice that is ongoing, life long, and requires constant attention and intention. If you don’t enjoy it, you will stop.

“Living a healthy lifestyle because you “should” is not sustainable. You won’t enjoy it, you won’t find satisfaction in it, and you won’t be able to sustain it,” says Erin Bahadur.

Key takeaway

Taking care of your basic physical and emotional needs should really be the backbone for getting stuff done.

Learning to care for yourself in a busy world can be a daunting process. Expect some setbacks, but accept them and move towards a healthier relationship with yourself.

Learn to treat yourself with respect, and listen to what your body needs and wants. Poor self-care has damaging consequences on your health.

Self-care isn’t one-size-fits-all. Do more of what works for you. Make it personal. Make your needs a priority to be better prepared to help others.

Originally published on Medium

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