Pop quiz: In the next three hours, you need to go grocery shopping, take your daughter to swim lessons, stop by the vet’s office for the “special” cat food, prepare dinner, pick your daughter up again, feed your family, and get a massage. Which of these things are you most likely to drop when you run out of time?
If you’re like most people, the massage is the first to go, no question. So often when our to-do list runs long (and when doesn’t it?!), we neglect our own self-care so that we can give others what they need.
But making time for ourselves is more than just a luxury — it’s a necessity. And you’re not the only one who will benefit, either. Read on to learn why self-care really isn’t selfish at all.
1. Self-care makes you a better caregiver. When you’re stressed out, those around you can tell, and the stress passes on to them. Furthermore, not taking care of yourself means you’re more likely to get burnt out and resentful. You’ll take the best care of those around you when you’re feeling happy, relaxed and replenished.
2. Self-care helps you perform better at work. Your boss needs a big project done — yesterday. You may feel like you need to jump right in so that you can get done sooner, but resist that urge. When you’re feeling that deer-in-the-headlights stress of so much to do that you don’t even know where to start, the place to start is with yourself. Take a few minutes to breathe slowly and deeply. Make sure your body is replenished — get a nutrient-rich snack, take a five-minute walk. When you’re feeling calmer, you’ll be able to focus and produce much higher-quality work, and faster.
3. Take care of yourself, and you’ll live longer. If you feel like there are many people in your life who depend on you on a daily basis, imagine what would happen if you suddenly weren’t around at all. No one likes to think about their own death, but taking care of yourself reduces chronic stress that can lead to heart attacks and other potentially life-threatening problems.
4. Self-care sets a good example. You want your kids, students or employees to feel refreshed each day and enjoy life, right? When you take time for yourself, you’re showing those who look up to you that they too should take care of themselves.
5. When you’re happier, so are those around you. Happiness is contagious, as are negative emotions. Contribute to the happiness of your loved ones by making time to replenish your own reserves, and watch how your happiness radiates outward.
6. When you’re refreshed, you’re less likely to make mistakes. You know that feeling when you’re just go-go-go all the time? Your mind is so focused on your to-do list that you’re not focusing on what you’re actually doing at that moment. This is the state when you’re most likely to give your child the wrong dose of medicine, give your boss the wrong file, accidentally delete an important document, or get into a car accident. Take time to relax so that you can avoid costly mistakes.
7. You’re as valuable as those around you. Lastly, there’s nothing selfish about considering yourself an equal to everyone else in your life. If you can make time for them, you can make time for yourself. Period.
No one’s saying it’s easy, but learning to make time for yourself is definitely not selfish — in fact, it can benefit both you and your loved ones. So skip the grocery store and the home-cooked dinner today. Go get that massage, and then pick up some takeout. Everyone will be better off for it.
About the Author:
Gwen Stewart is a marketing guru for clients of Outbounding.com. She works far too many hours, but has made a personal goal of eliminating Sunday from her work week. Her vision for the Fall includes one hour of yoga 4 times each week, homemade soup, saving for retirement, and time off work. She also believes that nose surgery can transform and empower a soul.