If there was ever a time to focus on your well-being, well congratulations, today is your day! July 24th is recognized as International Self-Care Day. However, ‘self-care’ can be emphasized beyond it’s designated celebration.
In our busy lifestyles, we find ourselves in a whirlwind of work, school, family, or financial obligations. With constant mental and physical demands, stress and anxiety can grow unchecked. As a result, we can forget to stop and do a little self-care.
Think of yourself as a car, driving for miles and miles without getting your engine checked, tires rotated, or oil changed. Yes, you can still operate, but with decreased efficiency. It won’t be until you breakdown that you’ll take yourself in for maintenance.
While how we work and operate is being analyzed to discover greater efficiency, the result of increased productivity without self-care has also been recognized. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” in its 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
According to the WHO, burnout can be characterized by three dimensions:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
- Reduced professional efficacy
Letting stress and anxiety build-up to the point of eruption isn’t healthy, so taking the time to help yourself is the best kind of self-serving you can do.
If you feel it may be selfish to prioritize your needs, in the scope of mental health, consider this: the benefit of prioritizing your needs becomes a benefit to the people around you. Self-care isn’t selfish when it’s about self-preservation.
According to Crisis Text Line, “self-care builds confidence, relieves stress, and lays a foundation for wellness”. They also offer suggestions on how to factor in some ‘you-time’. These suggestions include:
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Spending time in nature
- Connecting with other people
Prioritizing self-care goes hand-in-hand with the act itself. You might think “I don’t have time for this”, but you may not be prioritizing your needs. There are many ways you can normalize self-care in your life by including it in your routine. “Exercise mindfulness,” Dr. Katie Godshall, LCSW-BACS suggests, “even while having your morning cup of coffee. Be present in the moment and feel through all of your senses. Before you start your car, try a breathing exercise.” She also suggests completing household chores mindfully: “folding your laundry or doing the dishes can set you up for success.”
Going to a spa might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s only one kind of self-care. Going for a walk, taking a drive, reading a book, connecting with friends or family, taking a moment to breathe, or even being fully present in the moment are all important ways to treat yourself. It can be as active or inactive as you want it to be. The most important part is that it’s about you.
In whatever way you choose to take care of yourself, just remember to do it regularly.