Many of us spend the majority of our day pleasing and caring for others at home, in the office, or out in the community. This may ultimately lead to feelings of resentment; particularly if our needs always come last.
Overstressed and overworked, we often find ourselves hitting the point where we feel emotionally bankrupt, especially when we lack outlets or resources for managing our multiple responsibilities and the never ending “to do” lists.
If we continually give to others, we will feel depleted and will wake up one day to realize that our well has run dry and we have no more to give. Just as we need to refuel our car’s gas tank, it’s imperative that we refill our well.
We must first take care of ourselves, so that we can then take care of others. Think about the airplane analogy where parents are instructed to place the oxygen mask on themselves before they place it on their child. When we nourish ourselves, those around us reap the rewards. As we decide to take care of ourselves in a more attentive, proactive, and nurturing way, we are protecting and replenishing our energy reserves so that we actually have more to offer our loved ones and the outside world.
The physical benefits from practicing self care are numerous. They span from relaxation and stress reduction to disease prevention. Many of these benefits stem from lower cortisol levels. When our body is in a state of relaxation it does not produce cortisol, therefore decreasing the risk of heart disease and dementia, while improving immune system function and decreasing symptoms from autoimmune diseases.
Self care can also improve our emotional health. Many forms of self care help to increase the production of our happy hormones. Having a well-cared-for body can help you to feel good about yourself and your life. In addition, taking time to care for yourself can convey to others that you value yourself and remind them that your needs are important too. In many ways, you teach others how to treat you by demonstrating that you find yourself worthy of care. Long term feelings of well-being are often associated with those who actively make time for their own self care, pursuits, and interests.
Self care can also make you a better caregiver. People who spend their time only caring for others can be at high risk for becoming burned out. Those who neglect their own needs and forget to nurture themselves typically experience deeper levels of unhappiness, low self-esteem, and feelings of resentment than those who reserve time to recharge their batteries.
So be sure to put yourself back on your priority list, and create a routine that includes time for self care!