Why Should I Practice Self-Care...?
When was the last time you took some time to yourself? And I mean really took some time for yourself.
Time when you had no guilt, no stress about what you ‘should be’ doing, no rushed feeling. Time that made you feel refreshed, reenergised, full of self-love and content.
I get it. You’re busy, there’s too much to do, you’ve got a family to organise, work to do…
The truth is, we consider time we take out for ourselves as a ‘waste of time’. There’s a million other things we could be doing, so taking time for ourselves seems selfish.
Let’s be honest here. You know you should be practising self-care because every man and his dog preaches it. But do you know why…?
Less Stress, Better Mindset
We live in a fast-paced world with expectations of productivity. But living too long in a ‘GO GO GO’ lifestyle is detrimental to our health. Our bodies attempt to keep up by living in a constant state of stress, which can lead to health issues, weight gain, mental health issues and more…
But practising a little self-love and self-care helps reduce those pesky stress hormones. By allowing our bodies to finally take a breath of relief (more in the next point!) and by doing things we love, our bodies start producing 'happy hormones', such as oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins.
And all these beautiful happy hormones help us to lead a calmer, happier and more present life. Long term, it also means more protection from mental health issues like depression and stress.
Immune System Support
Another stress-related benefit! Because we live in a high-stress environment these days, our body spends most of the time in the Sympathetic Nervous System (the fight or flight area). When you consider the human brain, it may have developed to the change in the world around us, but when it comes down to it, we’re primal at the core of it.
When we’re stressed, our body is ready to pump adrenaline through our body to help us run away from the sabre-toothed tiger. Except now it’s more like getting this project in on time! But from work to being stuck in traffic to technological problems to financial issues… there’s a lot of stress surrounding us. And so our body stays in the Sympathetic Nervous System in order to deal with it.
By taking time out to rest and relax, we are telling our body it’s okay to relax. You don’t need to be ready to run away! So our body transfers over to the Parasympathetic Nervous System. And what happens here? Our body can finally take a breath and put the focus on areas like our digestive system (where the majority of our immune system is based). The results? Your body can now deal with the effects of the stress of the day and help put energy into protecting you in the future.
More to Give to Others
If you have an empty water jug, can you give water to those around you…? I didn’t think so. So how can you expect to have no energy and yet give energy to others?
I like to think of taking time out for ourselves as actually a very giving act. I know that if I am not nourishing my body with good foods and making sure to do my non-negotiable daily self-care practices… I am much less fun to be around.
But, if I take time out to nourish myself, to have my lemon water in the morning and to stretch… I am more me. I’m more patient, I’m more present and I’m more giving to others.
It may seem counter-productive to take time away from people, but if it means the time you are spending with them is quality time and quality energy, they I say it’s worth it!
I know, I know… but there’s less time in the day if you’re taking time out for yourself! Yes, taking time for yourself literally does mean less time for other things.
But I guarantee you this. If you take that time for yourself, you will have more energy, more clarity and more drive to complete the things you need to do.
You can sit behind your computer for 7 hours. Or, you could work hard for 3 hours, take an hour off to get outside for some fresh air and some exercise and refuel with nourishing foods. I guarantee the latter will make you 10x more productive.
Fall in Love with Yourself and Your Life
Taking time to self-reflect is hugely beneficial to our lives. We tend to get in patterns of not really asking ourselves questions about whether we’re really happy in our lives and just getting caught in the routine of everyday life.
But practising self-care means taking time out. Thinking. Looking inside. Doing the things you love. Falling in love with who you are.
If you want to build a life you love, you need to start being honest with yourself and searching for more. More things that make you fall in love with life, more things that make you fall in love with yourself.
Taking that time for yourself to focus on you will result in long-term change (this I can guarantee). It makes you grateful for what you have and who you are. It’s game changing.
So what does all of that equal…? A happier, healthier, more present life.
Sounds good, right? And this starts with even just 10 minutes a day. It’s not about committing to three hours of intense self-care every single day.
Struggling for ideas? Here’s a few to try tonight…
- Have a big stretch before bed, or look up YouTube videos for a restorative yoga session to do at home.
- Run yourself a bath with candles and take some time to really enjoy it.
- Sit down to some good, deep journaling. Ask yourself some questions like: ‘If I could live my dream life… what would it be? If money/time/energy/location wasn’t an issue – where would I be? What would I be doing? What would my day-to-day life look like, and how would I feel?’
- Message a friend to organise a walk or a gym class tomorrow. Schedule in time where you move your body!
- Prep some food for tomorrow and mindfully put in good quality, nourishing food to help fuel you tomorrow.
- Go to bed slightly earlier for a longer night's sleep as well as 20 minutes of reading instead of looking at your phone and waking your brain up.
BY COURTENAY MCCULLOCH
Founder of Thrive Collective, activewear-wearing, brunch-loving, dog-obsessed girl on a mission to help all women realise their real potential and start living a life where they thrive in every moment.