Does this sound familiar: you’re a master at taking care of everyone-and everything-except yourself? The homework gets checked, parents called, projects completed, and pets get groomed yet you can’t remember the last time you soaked in long, hot bath until your fingers shriveled. Friends and doctors tell you to start taking care of yourself, but it’s not quite clear how that helps if you have to play catch up to get everything done later.
Whether this describes you or someone you care about, it’s important to know the benefits of self-care. Understanding how taking care of yourself improves your life moves it from the realm of luxurious dreams to the ranks of valued necessities. Self-care has many benefits but they essentially boil down to being healthier and more productive.
How you choose to do self-care plays a big part in the specific benefits you’ll receive. For example, if you embrace stress reduction activities like meditation, yoga, or spa days you’ll most likely notice emotional wellness improvements like increased peacefulness and decreased irritability. Because chronic stress can lead to poor concentration you might also notice mental wellness benefits like improved focus.
The body and mind strongly interconnect, so self-care activities promoting mental and emotional wellness can also lead to physical health improvements. Your body can directly benefit from some of the stress reduction activities listed above. For example, weight loss and blood pressure improvement commonly occur with stress reduction activities like yoga and meditation. These physical wellness benefits might be even more pronounced if you begin self-care activities like weight training, walking, or other types of exercise.
Does all this sound great but still not practical? Maybe you’re responsible for taking care of lots of people and projects and you can’t imagine what will happen if you take a little time away from those responsibilities. If that’s the case, self-care becomes particularly important.
You’ve probably heard it a million times, but it’s worth repeating: when you fly on a plane you have to put on your oxygen mask before taking care of someone else. Even your child. You’re no good to anyone if you pass out. Or worse.
In addition to making sure you stay healthy enough to fulfill your responsibilities you might find another benefit from self-care. Many workplace wellness studies reveal increased productivity when employees participate in wellness activities. Some of this is because they take fewer sick days. The other part is because they simply work better and more efficiently. Whether you work in or outside of the home, it’s likely you’ll notice your productivity increase when you make self-care a priority.
Self-care is a vital part of any personal wellness plan. Optimal health requires making your health and wellness a priority. Don’t wait until you’re forced into it by a scary diagnosis or ugly emotionally outburst. Start reaping self-care benefits now just because it’s good for you. It’s cliché but true: you’re worth it and you deserve it.
The Ultimate Health and Wellness Guide Dr. Donna Hamilton, MD has a mission to help everyone live the healthy, satisfying lives they’re meant to lead. A dynamic holistic wellness speaker, Dr. Hamilton passionately teaches what being healthy really means and how to do it in a way that fits your unique needs. Her easy, practical tips assist you with assessing the entire wellness landscape and appropriately planning your personal wellness journey. Her workbook Wellness Your Way combines evidence based counseling and coaching skills with her primary care medicine wisdom to assist readers on this journey. For more information or to book Dr. Hamilton for speaking engagements visit www.DonnaHamiltonMD.com
© 2011 Donna L. Hamilton, MD