Why is self-care so important?
Self-care is described as an activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health (Raphailia, 2018). Examples can range from not checking your emails at night when you know it affects your sleep (guilty!) and extends to more important decisions like going for a holiday (yes please) or booking a massage if you need one (always).
Self-care is hugely important as it helps us maintain a healthy relationship with ourselves that can be transmitted to others; you cannot give to others what you don’t have yourself (Tartakovsky, 2019). Biali Haas (2016) emphasises this stating you cannot pour from an empty cup, if you’re running on empty, then break that habit before it breaks you. This emphasises the importance that self-care can have on individuals lives and why looking after yourself also impacts those around you. Plus, we know that supporting and giving to others is important for our own health.
Self-care has found to have multiple benefits; improved immunity, increased positive thinking, less susceptible to stress, depression anxiety and other emotional health issues (Living Self Care). It has been further found that individuals who fail to take care of themselves are more prone to unhappiness, low self-esteem and feelings of resentment (Living Self Care). These benefits have increased the use of self-care within millennials as they spend twice as much on self-care essentials than baby boomers which has found to create millennials as more upbeat and positive (Pew research, 2008).
- Rest and Reflection – Sleep can have a huge influence on both your emotional and physical health. Sleep can be made part of a self-care routine by ensuring that you are sleeping for 6-8 hours a day, as well as listening to your body and taking naps when it is felt necessary. Whilst research also suggests that giving yourself time to reflect and ask yourself questions such as ‘what makes me feel happy?’ can create self-clarity an important aspect of self-care.
- Eating Well – Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the core elements of self-care. Research has found that daily food choices can affect overall health and wellbeing both in the long term and the short term (Stranges et al, 2014). By eating healthily as part of your self-care routine you may experience benefits such as better mood, better ability to cope with stress and overall better wellbeing (O’Neil et al, 2018)
- Meditation – Meditation is another form of self-care which can be introduced as part of a self-care routine with benefits including reduced stress, reduced feelings of depression and anxiety, promotion of self-discovery and an increased self-awareness (Schreiner and Malcom, 2008). These important benefits can be experienced by taking 5 minutes as part of your self-care routine promoting your wellbeing in a short period of time (May et al, 2019).
- Self-awareness – Self-awareness and self-care have often been linked as when an individual is taking time to listen to their mind and body, they tend to practice some form of self-care (Brenda and Vachon, 2011). Research has found that by taking this time to practice self-awareness as a form of self-care it can increase productivity, reduce stressful experiences and decrease the likelihood of burnout (Brenda and Vachon, 2011).
- Exercise – Adding daily exercise to your routine has also found to boost your mood and reduce stress and anxiety (ADAA, 2010). Although going to the gym everyday may be difficult to achieve, short activities such as walking on your lunch break or practicing yoga may better fit into a busy schedule with research suggesting that only five minutes of these activities can still increase your wellbeing. (ADAA, 2010).
- Hygge – Hygge is a danish word for wellbeing, it describes a feeling or mood that is created from making every day experiences more meaningful. Miek Wiking, CEO of the happiness research institute and author of the little book of hygge, describes hygge as “the pursuit of everyday happiness and it’s basically like a hug without the physical touch”. Hygge involves focusing on the small things that really matter like quality time with friends and family as well as learning to appreciate simple day to day pleasures. Hygge is also encouraged within the workplace by creating a relaxing environment, Wiking suggests including things like plants, leaving chocolate for a co-worker or potlucks to increase socialisation and connection.