What is the thing that makes you the happiest? Not counting your family, partner, or pets, think of something you do that brings you joy. But how often do you get to do that — to take care of yourself and do things that make you feel good, not things that are required in life or caring for other people?
Your typical day might look like this: Wake up early, get ready for work, eat a quick breakfast, sit in traffic for an hour, work for eight to 10 hours (possibly even skipping lunch), sit in traffic again for an hour, make dinner, eat, clean up, and go to bed. The next day? Wash, rinse, and repeat. It’s like you’re living on autopilot. If you have kids, then you’re probably doing all of that, plus getting the kids ready, driving them to and from school, feeding them, and making sure they do their homework. Then on the weekends, you’re doing laundry, cleaning the house, and running errands.
Self-care is an often overlooked, but important practice that busy adults should find more time to do. Without self-care, we’d drift through life feeling the burdens without feeling the benefits of being alive. Without self-care, we’d always be stressed and overwhelmed, never calm and relaxed. Without self-care, we’d always be chasing happiness, unable to achieve it.
Why is self-care so important? It calms you, de-stresses you, makes life more joyful, and lets you feel free for those moments. If you’re practicing self-care in a way that delivers long-term benefits, you’ll get the positive feelings for more than just those fleeting moments. Here’s how you do that.
First, choose activities that make you feel good, pampered and happy. The top three self-care practices that have overall benefits are eating healthy, exercising, and getting more sleep. Besides the immediate gratification that these practices bring, taking care of your health will bring you more energy, focus, and longevity. Make healthy living a priority in your already-busy life by making it more convenient and stress free. Instead of spending hours shopping for, prepping, and cooking healthy meals, sign up for a meal delivery service. Instead of dreading your gym workout, ride bikes with your kids or take your dog for a walk. Instead of returning emails right up until your head hits the pillow, commit to 10 minutes of meditation before bed.
Self-care could also mean a weekly massage, getting your hair or nails done, Saturday morning hikes, a day at the beach, going out dancing, practicing your musical instrument, reading a book, shopping, lounging in front of the TV, yoga in the park, running, swimming, meditation, writing or painting. It could be anything that is stress-free, strictly for you and brings you feelings of worth. There’s no one right way to practice self-care.
There is one unhealthy activity that many people turn to for self-care: alcohol and drug use. Chronic stress at work can cause employees to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms including drinking alcohol. Happy hour is popular for that reason. People like to wind down with a cold brew after a long day at work, often with their coworkers. Whether it’s one too many drinks at happy hour or a six-pack or bottle of wine at home, numbing your stress with alcohol isn’t the solution. It might make you feel better at the time, but the relief is only temporary.
You need to heal from the inside out instead. Since they can be depressants, alcohol and substances can actually make the problem worse. Your brain chemistry is altered when you drink and not for the better. If you’re constantly under stress because of work, be sure to find healthy self-care practices that will help you cope, such as exercising, finding peer support and taking a break when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Self-care doesn’t always show up as an activity or thing to do. It can simply mean valuing yourself, saying no to requests that don’t feel right to you, or standing up for yourself. Try a little of everything to see what’s best for you, and don’t be afraid to try something you’ve been curious about. When you find your preferred method of self-care, add it into your calendar to remind you to take the time to practice. Your personal needs and wants are just as important as your commitments to others. Make a commitment to yourself and find your happy place.
Author: Brad Krause ♥
Photo Credit: Unsplash