Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important than the judgment we pass on ourselves.Nathaniel Branden
Self-care: The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own wellbeing and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
If self-care is so important in managing our wellbeing and happiness, the question is why do so many of us continue to neglect it?
In a world where so many of us have countless responsibilities, with almost no time to stop and think, people seem to be placing less priority on fulfilling their own personal needs. Rather than taking a bath, watching a movie etc. people are engulfed in never-ending work and to-do lists and this only contributes to greater stress. When already tired, physically or emotionally, it makes it even harder to be productive and live up to your responsibilities.
When we decide to implement self-care strategies, as I know from experience, it naturally makes you feel more resilient and able to cope with the challenges of life. More able to focus. And, more creative. The beauty of self-care is that it comes in so many different forms- it’s purely down to the individual!
Personally I love to read, go for a walk, see my friends, meditate, watch Netflix and plenty more. Just little things that don’t necessarily require lots of time but provide a real sense of escapism and allow me to get out of my own head. What I have learnt is the moment you start to ruminate with your thoughts and feel ultra negative, it is a sign that you need to occupy yourself and do something enjoyable to manage your own wellbeing.
While this may seem an obvious decision to make, it’s incredible just how many people choose to ignore what their mind and body is calling for. This is usually because people are simply ‘too busy’, believe self-care will have adverse effects on productivity, are prioritising somebody else over themselves or feel that the idea of self-care is almost selfish and that they’re not worthy of having time for themselves. Although it’s fantastic being able to help others, we have to remember that we need to help ourselves too. We wouldn’t begrudge others for having fun so what is the problem when we do the same?
The idea that ‘hard work pays off’ and brings success is true to an extent, however taking it too far can be wildly counterproductive. Goals and aspirations can be extremely meaningful and rewarding but working yourself into the ground is never a good idea. Though it may seem it’s the only way of ‘getting things done’, it predominantly leads to reduced efficiency, success and happiness. By taking breaks, practicing self-care and managing your workload, rather than working non-stop, you are creating a better work-life balance and allowing yourself the opportunity to improve more aspects of your life (leisure, relationships, work, religion etc.) Work is not everything. And it never should be!
In a current society where mental health services are hugely stretched, professional support is incredibly hard to come by and people continue to be let down by those who could help them, one would argue that acts of self-care are more crucial than ever before. While the system is undoubtedly flawed and needs vast improvements, we as individuals are now forced to accept more responsibility in the handling of our wellbeing. Injustices are unfair but the cards many of us have been dealt means we have to use more of the resources available to us!
Should you be reading this and life feels pretty overwhelming- I would definitely recommend implementing regular self-care- maybe even a self-care plan. You may not think it now but who knows what a change it could make to your life? It’s a long road but definitely one you can conquer. The benefits are endless, I promise you!
Thanks for reading,