Self-Care: What Is It and Why Is It Important?
In 2018, 55% of Americans stated that they regularly experienced stress and 45% felt worried a lot. Our modern way of living has normalized this state of being but in reality, these results ranked among the highest rates of the 143 countries that were studied as part of the Gallup Global Emotions Report. While stress itself isn’t an illness, prolonged stress can lead to physical and/or mental ill-health. The Gallup Global Emotions Report highlights the growing need to explore ways to increase our resilience toward feelings of worry and stress associated with modern life.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, or appear that there is not enough time to spare in our days, prioritizing activities that bring us joy is the key in this endeavor. Setting aside precious time to nourish our spirits can reduce the negative impact of stress and bolster our mental and emotional wellbeing. In other words, it is important to prioritize acts of self-care. Practicing self-care is a fantastic way to restore ourselves on a mental, emotional, and physical level. The benefits of practicing self-care also extend outwards into elements of our everyday lives, such as family, interpersonal relationships and work.
What Is Self-Care and Why Is It Important?
Self-care represents different things to different people, and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to practice self-care. Any activity that we consciously participate in with the intention of taking care of our mental, emotional and physical health is an act of self-care. It could be something as simple as lighting a candle to brighten your spirits, reading, catching up your favorite TV series, buying flowers, listening to beautiful music, going for a run, or taking time to cook and eat a nutritious meal.
Consider what brings you joy, and set aside time to do more of it.
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
It can often feel like self-care is selfish, but it most certainly isn’t. Self-care is a far cry from being selfish or a luxury ... it is a necessity. If we do not maintain our individual mental, emotional and physical health, we are in no position to take care of our family, friends, and acquaintances. It shouldn’t take reaching a crisis point, or experiencing illness to persuade us to provide ourselves with the time and care that we so desperately deserve.
An act of self-care can be as simple or as complex as necessary on any given day. Self-care can even be included within an everyday routine. Waking up a little earlier to fit in a restorative meditation and a nutritious breakfast are ways to make self-care an everyday occurrence. Going “screen-free” and reading your favorite book before bed is another example of an everyday self-care routine. Other accessible self-care habits that can be included in our everyday lives to improve long-term mental, emotional and physical wellbeing include:
Include plenty of nutritious food in your diet
Remember that it is ok to say no
Connect with others
Reflect upon what you’re grateful for
Try learning a new skill
Remember to rest well
Exercise as able, even if it is a short walk
Remember that it is ok to ask for help
Part of what makes self-care work is that it is a conscious intention to nourish our wellbeing. So, whatever an act of self-care means to you on an individual level, be fully present in the moment. Remain conscious of what you are doing, why you are doing it and how it feels. During “Self-Care Week 2019” and beyond we encourage you to treat yourself with compassion and take time out to practice self-care.
If you would like to know more about the services offered at Georgetown Counseling and Wellness, please don’t hesitate to reach out on (512) 400-4247.