Don’t save the best for last: The importance of self-care
All of us have priorities, and it is common that in these busy times, people put their careers and their families ahead of themselves. Reading this, you may wonder: but what am I without my work and my family? When people consider work-life balance they often think of work and family or relationships, but often miss a very important part of the equation: ourselves! Taking care of oneself is needed to build resilience and tend to all the other things in our lives.
What is self-care? Self-care is just that – intentional actions and effort to take care of our own physical, mental, and emotional health. While self-care is unique to everyone, for many it is commonly deprioritized and put on the back-burner, silently simmering unattended and forgotten. But self-care really is important, and shouldn’t be relegated to the bottom of your list of things to pay attention and give time to.
Self-care means different things to different people – maybe it's enjoying a long bath, listening to your favourite podcast, meditation, travel, enjoying a meal with friends, or going for a jog. At the root, self-care can be anything that nourishes your mind, body, or spirit. The trick is to make it a priority, rather than something you do when you have the time.
To help get you thinking more about your own self-care, here are some categories self-care activities fall into:
This means taking care of your physical body, and includes eating healthily, exercising regularly, and getting adequate amounts of good quality sleep. Building these habits into your routine can strengthen your immune system and improve your mood.
Hobbies can really be anything that you enjoy for enjoyment’s sake, from playing a sport, learning a language or a musical instrument, seeing the latest movies or reading books that you love. Regularly doing things just-for-fun is not frivolous, but an excellent way to take care of yourself.
Make time to see your friends. Talk about what’s going on in your life, and listen to them share what they’re thinking about. Being social contributes to your sense of self-worth and relieves stress.
This is another realm that can really take on a lot of different manifestations. For some people, religion and prayer are the way they engage with the spiritual side of themselves. For others it’s yoga and meditation. Others of us do things we would never say are spiritual such as going to the spa, taking long hot baths, or going for a walk in nature. Whatever it looks like for you, these are activities that nourish our private inner selves.
Above all, remember that self-care isn’t “selfish”. Taking care of yourself is actually one of the most generous you can do for those around you, be they your coworkers, your family, and your friends. When you take good care of yourself, you are much more available to take care of and help others as well.