In a world where we are expected to be productive and successful 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it can be hard to find the time for self-care. Unfortunately, the more we push, the more we need to invest in ourselves. Thankfully, the benefits of self-care are many!
Investing in yourself means that you need to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical needs. Self-care is an investment not just for your well being but also for the success of your career or business, your relationships, and everything in your life.
What is Self-Care?
Simply, self-care is anything that you find nourishing. It can be restful, stimulating, alone, or with others. Some examples of self-care include going on a run, taking a hot bath, meditation, yoga, working out, socializing with friends, or even having sex. It can be as simple as your hygiene routine, or as complex (and expensive) as a full spa weekend.
Research on the Importance of Self-Care
Yes, the importance of self-care has been well researched. Among the conclusions that scientists and researchers have determined:
– A study found that 93% of people who practice self-care reported lower anxiety symptoms after doing so. That’s because the act of taking care of yourself benefits your mental health
– The benefits go beyond just an immediate feeling; self care can have a long term impact on our mood and well being. This is because when we make the time for things that are important to us, it’s become easier to get through tough times
– More than half of those surveyed in a recent study said they would be more likely to take time off work if their managers encouraged self-care practices such as taking a break, exercising and meditating
Basically, it’s not your fault if you don’t have the time or support to practice self-care, but the benefits of self-care can hang around long-term.
10 Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Self-Care Practice
What are the benefits of self-care, and why does self-care matter? Let’s look at 10 different ways that self-care can benefit us.
1) Self care reduces stress levels
The first and most basic way that self-care can benefit us is that it lowers our stress. Studies show that a single session of self-care can reduce our cortisol levels by 25%. This is a hormonal response to stress that benefits every cell in the body.
Reducing our stress means that our body sends blood to our organs, helping us digest food, reset our bodies, and allowing us to heal our injuries. Check out 30 ideas for self-care to reduce your stress.
2) Self care reduces risk of chronic illness
Self-care also helps by reducing our risk for chronic illness, preventing depression and anxiety by lowering cortisol levels, and thereby improving our physical and mental health. Our physical health by reducing stress-related inflammation through lowered cortisol levels and preventing depression.
You can reduce the risk for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity or depression, by practicing self-care regularly and lowering your cortisol levels.
3) Self-care boosts our immune system.
When we take the time to practice self-care, we are keeping the body primed to fight off infection. This is partially because of how self-care can reduce cortisol, which is one factor in the suppression of the immune system.
Our immune system benefits from a consistent routine of exercise, healthy eating habits, and stress management.
4) Self-care can reduce the risk of self-destructive behaviors
When we experience stress for a prolonged period of time, this is called burnout. Burnout has many negative effects such as poor mental clarity, irritability, and a lack of engagement in activities we once enjoyed.
Burnout can lead to self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse or eating disorders as well. It is important that those who need help recognize the warning signs for burnout and take steps towards recovery so they do not experience these negative consequences further down the road.
Self-care also counteracts feelings of burnout that can lead to addictions or other self-destructive behaviors.
5) Self-care benefits mental health
It reduces depression and anxiety, and boosts self esteem. It also helps us get better at regulating our emotions, which benefits physical health because many chronic illnesses are worsened when we’re stressed or angry.
Self care benefits our mental health by boosting serotonin levels, which improves mood and decreases the risk of depression or anxiety. It also benefits sleep quality and reduces stress hormones like cortisol that can worsen chronic illness. Self-care benefits our sense of self worth because it gives us a break from society’s judgmental standards, so we feel more confident.
6) Self-care benefits our emotional intelligence
Self-care gives us the skills to regulate how we feel and think, which is beneficial because it reduces stress – a major contributor to many chronic illnesses. It also benefits relationships with friends and family by making them happier due to increased self esteem or improved mood.
7) Self-care benefits our relationships
When we are in a state of relaxation and reduced our stress, we have the potential to create more emotional depth and vulnerability in our relationships. This in turn increases closeness with loved ones – as well as their happiness due to increased self esteem or improved moods.
8) Self care can decrease pain
Suffering from chronic pain is one of the most debilitating conditions that people can experience. It affects their ability to function throughout a day, it limits what they do and where they go.
There are ways in which it could help lessen some of the suffering of chronic pain. For example, a study in the Journal of Pain found that those who engaged in self-care practices, such as exercise and meditation, experienced less pain than they had before.
9) Lower Anxiety Levels
Another benefit of self-care is that it can also reduce your anxiety levels. In fact, chronic stress has been shown to increase one’s risk for various diseases including heart disease. This is why it’s important to take time for yourself and do things that you enjoy, like taking a bubble bath or reading your favorite book with a glass of wine.
This benefits the individual because high levels of anxiety can trigger panic attacks which are very difficult to deal with if they become frequent occurrences in one’s life. It also benefits the individual because chronic stress has been shown to increase one’s risk for various diseases including heart disease.
10) Self-care benefits the environment
It’s not just humans who benefit from self-care, it benefits our planet, too. And our planet needs all the help it can get, from all of us.
When we are mindful of what is going on in and around us, it helps us to be more environmentally conscious about how we live and make choices for ourselves that will ultimately help protect the earth. For example, when people practice mindful eating, they are more likely to choose sustainable foods that in turn have a lower environmental impact.
There are so many benefits of self-care. The primary thing to remember, though, is that self-care needs to be regular, consistent, and long-term.
What kinds of ways do you enjoy self-care?! Share in the comments below!
READ MORE: Self-Care Ideas for Quarantine or Lockdown