Self-care has become a hot topic in the wellness industry over the last few years. From social media influencers to wellness gurus to healthcare practitioners, self-care is touted as a critical way to stay healthy. But what exactly is self-care, and why is it so important? In this blog, we’ll dig into the concept of self-care and its impact on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
What Is Self-Care?
We can define the term self-care by its name – caring for one’s self. This can mean anything you do to keep yourself healthy and thriving physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Self-care looks different for different people depending on their needs, goals, and lifestyle. The World Health Organization defines it as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” Remembering self-care isn’t about treating yourself to that fancy latte or expensive gadget, as we may see on social media or TV. Ultimately, it’s about prioritizing yourself and is accessible regardless of income level, geography, race, ethnicity, or any other factors.
While prioritizing self-care can seem like a no-brainer, it’s easy for it to slip to the bottom of our priorities when life steps in. Work obligations, family responsibilities, financial concerns, or mental or physical health challenges can create barriers to prioritizing self-care. But it’s exactly when these challenges arise that we need self-care more than anything else.
Why Does Self-Care Matter?
We live in a society that values near-constant productivity, which can result in burnout, whether it’s at work or with our families. Unfortunately, this can make it extremely difficult to find time for self-care or to even view it as a priority. But the irony is that taking time to care for yourself and pressing the “reset” button can make you better equipped to juggle your responsibilities.
To understand why self-care is so important, let’s look at a few consequences of not prioritizing it. Running on empty without caring for ourselves can lead to:
- Increased depression and anxiety
- Binge eating or an increase in unhealthy eating habits
- Low energy
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Relationship strains
On the flip side, engaging in a self-care routine has been proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, improve concentration, increase happiness, improve energy, and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
What Is a Self-Care Routine?
If you feel it’s time to prioritize self-care, you may wonder where to start. It could be helpful to consider the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s eight dimensions of wellness to help craft your self-care routine. When kept in balance, these dimensions can predict higher levels of wellness. And remember, the activities and pursuits associated with these pillars could look different for everyone.
- Emotional. This could include talking with a loved one or a mental health professional, pursuing a creative outlet, feeling your feelings, or taking a nap.
- Environmental. Consider walking outside to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine, clean your home, rearrange the furniture in your favorite room, or clean up a walking trail.
- Physical. Exercise daily, eat healthy and nutritious meals, keep up with annual physicals, prioritize high-quality sleep, and gain the necessary skills to access the information needed to maintain good health.
- Financial. Take steps to acquire more financial literacy, create a financial plan for the future, open a savings account, or find ways to pay down debt and increase your income.
- Intellectual. Sign up for a class to learn something new, listen to a podcast or audiobook, try a new activity, or go back to school.
- Occupational. Train for a promotion at work, uplevel your skills, apply for your dream job, update your resume, or start your own business.
- Social. Make plans with friends and family members you enjoy spending time with, volunteer, keep healthy boundaries for using technology and social media, or go out and have fun.
- Spiritual. Be mindful, contemplate and explore your higher purpose, meditate, pray, visit a meaningful place, or practice yoga.
Keep Self-Care at the Top of Your List
Self-care is about so much more than buying products or services to “make” you happy. Instead, it’s about prioritizing yourself and your needs so you can lead a more fulfilled and healthy life. Whatever self-care routine you establish – spending time with friends, exploring your spirituality, or getting outside on a sunny day – be sure to prioritize it and make it part of your everyday life. The benefits on your physical, emotional, and spiritual life will pay dividends.
If you’re ready to prioritize your health and wellness, let’s chat. At Forge, our team of certified fitness and nutrition pros is here to guide and support you on your wellness journey.