Does your morning look like this?
You hit snooze a couple of times before you actually get up to start your day.
You set two alarms, 15 or 30 minutes apart so that the first one slightly wakes you up. Then, when the actual alarm sounds you hit snooze before getting up to start your day.
Then, you race through a shower, grab something for breakfast, and eat on the road because now you are late for work or an important appointment.
By lunchtime, you are starving. You stop at the first fast-food joint to grab a burger and fries, but instead of taking time to enjoy the meal, you eat in your car as you hurry to the next part of your day. Maybe it is picking up your child or grandchild from school. Maybe it is stopping in to care for your aging parent or close friend.
You have given your day your all so that by the time you get home, your cup of compassion and patience is darn near empty or completely dry. There is, however, still dinner to make and other responsibilities to tackle in your day.
Tomorrow, I’ll do something for myself. Tomorrow, I’ll fill my own cup after I get everything done.
After all, isn’t that how you were raised? With the understanding that doing something for yourself or taking care of yourself beyond the basic necessities like brushing your teeth and showering is selfish.
Self-care is just as important, if not more important, as our other tasks and responsibilities.
What is Self-care?
I think Marni Amsellem’s, PhD, defines self-care the best. She says, “Self-care is anything that you do for yourself that feels nourishing.” That doesn’t just mean the meals and snacks we consume; it also takes into consideration what we do that nourishes our mental health and our soul/spirit.
Because each of us is unique, our choices for self-care will differ. In addition, what works to nourish our mental health and soul/spirit at one point of our life, might not feel nourishing down the road. As long as what you choose for self-care brings you happiness, peace, and satisfaction, the action should be considered self-care.
Benefits of Self-Care
It is impossible to pour coffee from an empty coffee pot. It is impossible to squeeze more ketchup from an empty bottle. It is impossible to pour juice from an empty juice container. But, we try to pour and squeeze more from ourselves even when we are totally depleted.
If we could stop and just take 5 minutes each day to engage in something that refills our cup when it is only halfway empty, our life and health would reap the benefits.
Benefit #1: Practicing self-care activities can lower your stress level.
Stress enters our lives every day. It doesn’t matter if you wake up refreshed and ready for anything, stress can laugh and say, “Oops. Sorry, but your day was going much too smoothly.” Stress comes from those you live with, from other drivers on the road, from a depressing or stressful phone call, or even from an unexpected bill in the mail.
Taking 5 minutes to de-stress shortly after that stressful event occurs can lower your stress levels which affect your heart, your blood pressure, and even your stomach.
Benefit #2: Practicing self-care activities can improve your relationships.
When our physical and emotional reserves are empty, we can find ourselves snapping at people, arguing, or even needing a nap.
Engaging in 5 minutes of self-care can bring us the inner peace necessary that allows us to be more present with the people around us and engage mindfully in life.
Benefit #3: Practicing self-care can improve our short-term decision-making regarding our physical health.
When stressed, most people reach for quick and ready snacks or comfort foods. These sugar-laden fixes can increase the effects of stress on our bodies. We don’t think about that, however, when we reach for that candy bar or that bag of chips.
Even taking a couple of minutes to sit quietly and breathe can help us choose an apple or some grapes over picking up that donut or cookie in a vending machine.