5 benefits of self careJane Stark
April 21, 2017
By now we’re all familiar with the wellness industry’s favourite term; self-care. And while, yes, some may say it’s become cliche, there are many proven benefits to practicing self-care. Aside from the obvious one, simply FEELING better, here are a couple unexpected benefits I found when I started increasing my self-care.
1. Slowing down makes you more productive.
Slowing down can take many forms. Maybe it is saying no to commitments that don’t serve you, carving out time in your day for yoga or coffee with a friend or simply taking a few deep breaths before a meeting. All of these actions bring us back to the present moment and help us to re-focus on what is TRULY important. When my to do list is longer than my daughter’s Christmas wish list and I’m scrolling Facebook I know it’s time to re-centre and re-prioritize. Often what I need to do is make self-care my top priority and then come back to the rest of my to do list.
2. Self-care will help boost your immune system. What do taking your vitamins/supplements, getting lots of rest, exercising, mindfulness and taking a hot bath all have in common? They all activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System. When you activate the PNS it puts your body into ‘rest + restore’ mode, giving our bodies the chance to decompress from our generally hectic daily lives. The more we can incorporate these activities into our routines, the better we can cope with our hectic lifestyle and the less time we actually have to make ‘busy.’ All of this gives the body the opportunity to build its defenses against those nasty cold bugs that like to attack when we’re at our weakest.
Once I implemented a regular self-care routine I noticed a dramatic decrease in the number of sick days I had. Not to mention the positive correlation I saw in my energy levels!
3. Self-care improves your self-compassion. It’s pretty simple, the more you take care of yourself, the better you feel. Dr. Kristin Neff defines Self Compassion as “being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.”
When I really started paying attention to the voices in my head I realized that I would never talk to a loved one the way I was talking to myself. Noticing your self-talk is a form of self-care in itself. When we start to treat ourselves with love and compassion we start to view the world differently, we start to view ourselves as part of the collective human experience rather than in isolation (aka the “why me” voice). Taking care of yourself will undoubtedly lead to more self-compassion.
4. You’ll find out who you really are. How many times do you stop and think, what do I LOVE to do. What really lights me up? What can I do for myself that makes me feel good. A few of us can answer this pretty easily, but many cannot. As we grow up and leave ‘childhood’ behind we are conditioned to believe that play is for kids and that doing too much for ourselves is ‘selfish.’ At least those were some of the beliefs I picked up along the way. I lost touch with myself and started seeking fulfilment from outside sources. As my world opened up to self-care, what it was, and the importance of it, I have completely re-connected with myself. I can now answer those questions without any doubt AND I know what I need to do when I’m feeling out of alignment.
5. You will have more to give others. Not less. I didn’t realize it at the time, but for many years I was one of ones carrying around the belief that self-care was selfish. That if I was doing something for myself it meant I wasn’t doing something for someone else. And I valued my contributions to others (especially those I loved) higher than myself. One of the biggest (and hardest) lessons I’ve learned from having children is that if my cup isn’t full then I definitely can’t fill theirs. Or my husbands. Or my friends. What I realized is that the more I practiced my own self-care the more capacity I had for family and friends. It’s a bit like building muscle, it takes practice and time. But so, so worth it.
So go on, close the computer and put one of these soul soothing practices to the test:
- Take a bath. Detox baths are incredibly stress-reducing. Add 1 cup of Epsom salts, ½ cup dead sea salt or Himalayan sea salt + ½ cup baking soda to the water to take it up a notch. Sit and relax for a minimum of 20 minutes.
- Meditate. Even a 5 minute meditation will serve you. If you can find 20 minutes, even better. Need some guidance? Check out Headspace, The Mindfulness App or Calm for guided meditations and tips and tricks.
- Nurture. Take a look at your diet and figure out where the gaps are and then consider filling those in with a supplement (even the best diets don’t give us everything we need). For inspiration check out the Botanica line of supplements.
- Create. Whether it’s cooking, baking or a DIY project that’s on your list. Find your creative side.
- Move. Get out in nature, stretch, move your body. Gaia offers great guided Yoga classes if you can’t get to class.
Just make time to do things you love and make you feel good. I promise you won’t regret it.
About Jane Stark
Jane is a wellness enthusiast passionate about improving her health, wellness and mindset through natural and holistic options.