Self Care: How Important is it?!
What's so important about self care?!
I hear so many statements such as:
-Self Care is Selfish: I should spend that time helping others.
-Self Care is just a Fad.
-Self Care is for millennials and iGens who already spend too much time doing whatever they want.
-Self Care is only for Single people who don't have real jobs.
-I am too busy for self care.
The list goes on...
Some of you have not even read this far into the post because you consider yourself too busy and don't have the luxury of time to read a blog about self care.
When it comes to self care you have doubts and you feel bad. I have been in your shoes and still am some days. It is easy to make excuses and look at our "to-do lists" and feel like we are letting others down or even ourselves down by taking some us time.
Self-care is not selfish. Doing whatever you want to do all the time is, but that is not what I am advocating. I'm not saying drop all of your responsibilities and jet off for a vacation.
I'm advocating that you:
-Get your spouse or a babysitter and take a bath. (You are only supposed to be in the bath for 20 min max anyway)
-Read for 20 min with a coffee at a coffee shop before picking the kids up from daycare.
-Put on some happy music/ podcast/ audiobook that you like while you do the dishes
-Call a friend and just have a good chat
-Get a babysitter for even an hour to go to the park or a store with your spouse
Self care does not have to be done in isolation and it does not have to mean you are not being productive. What it does mean is that you are scheduling time for the things that make life bearable and finding things that nourish your soul.
-Reading the little ones to bed while the laundry piles up could be self care.
-Going for a walk with your spouse or by yourself could be self care.
-Volunteering for a great cause could be self care.
-Read your Bible
-Read an inspirational book
-Get an extra 20 min of sleep
The list goes on...
When reading a study done by Harvard Health they state:
Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. It can dampen the
immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and other common infections. It can
contribute to asthma, digestive disorders, cancer, and other health problems. New
research even supports the notion that high levels of stress somehow speed up the aging
process.Though stress is inevitable, you can help control your body's response to it.
Exercise, meditation, invoking the relaxation response, and mindfulness are great stress
These ideas of mindfulness and stress busters are what Self Care is. If we allow ourselves to walk around life constantly in the "fight or flight" response (relying on the sympathetic nervous system) it literally shuts down the
functions of the parasympathetic nervous system. We get the burst of energy that we need as we frantically run from one thing to another, but we are are bypassing things like the digestive system and reproductive system. This leads to health and infertility problems. We also start breathing in a completely different way. We do reciprocal breathing where we take in oxygen quickly, but suck the naval in getting as much oxygen to the heart as possible and exhale quickly relaxing the muscles of our belly or we do a lot of upper chest sniffs through the nose like you might when you are angry or irritated. Both of these breathing types keep the air near the lungs and heart and don't nourish the rest of the body. We need to do these little things to help the body relax and keep it from being on high alert at all times.
It is the little conscious choices that we make throughout the day that help us to be healthier and happier. It is scheduling time for the things that will become memories. It is simplifying life and realizing that we don't need to do EVERYTHING, but only the things that matter. You can better help, care for, and love the people around you when you are not sleep deprived, dirty, hungry, thirsty, stressed out, burnt out, and irritable. You need to do the fun things in life too. You need to take those moments and know that the other things will get done. Or if they don't maybe they don't really matter all that much.
What will you do to start taking care of yourself?
Check out this video if you don't know where too start.
Harvard Health Publishing. “Stress.” Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/stress.