We live in a very busy world, and it has never been easier to feel overwhelmed or overstimulated by your environment and daily routine. Because of this, self-care has become all the more important and it’s no wonder why there is an increasing number of businesses, studies, and organizations spreading information on the benefits of slowing down and taking time for yourself.
At face value, self-care generally sounds like it would be a good thing—you’re stopping to do things that reset your systems, so to speak. But it goes beyond the surface level benefits that come from painting your nails or having a dance party for one in your living room. Self-care, mindfulness, and the usual activities that tag along with these umbrella terms have been studied and both quantitative and qualitative benefits have been discovered.
While hearing that self-care is good for you is reason enough to do it, you might be curious about why it’s important or need more reasoning behind why it should become an integral part of your life. Here’s how it can help and how it positively affects you and those around you.
It Establishes a Healthy Routine
It’s easy to go from work straight to watching a few episodes of your favorite TV show or chowing down on take-out, especially when stress is involved. Although these aren’t necessarily bad things, replacing self-care with these activities all the time won’t be helpful long-term. Getting in the habit of doing things that negate stress and tension (like reading a book, trying a new breathing technique, or taking a warm bath) will help you form a habit of long-term self-care.
It Betters Your Mental and Emotional Health
Self-care is a surefire way to balance, maintain, and boost your mental and emotional health. There are many ways of doing this, including everything from painting and journaling to yoga and meditation. Mindfulness is a very big player in this respect, too. One paper reports “that mindfulness is positively associated with psychological health” and by continually working on this kind of self-care you’ll find more “positive psychological effects” down the road.
It Improves Your Physical Health
Mindfulness and other self-care activities may sound like something that benefits your emotions, but your body gets some lovely perks, too. One study reported that hypertension—and blood pressure levels in general—were reduced after participants practiced mindfulness activities that relaxed them. And, at a more basic level, things like exercise, meditation, and movement increase your endorphins, leaving you feeling happier and your body energized and refreshed.
It Sets a Good Example for Yourself and Those Around You
Children, partners, family members, friends, and even colleagues will be aware of the care and time you take for yourself. In establishing rules, boundaries, and routines, you can inspire others to also take part in self-care and set the tone for how important these activities are. Whether you run a business and encourage your employees to take time off and frequent breaks throughout the day, or are a parent who helps your kids to recuperate and relax after long days, these small acts of support matter and make a difference.
It Reduces Stress and Overwhelm
Decompressing after a long day isn’t always easy. Having a structured or planned self-care routine is instrumental in bringing you back to a relaxed state and assisting you in working out stressors, traumas, and conflict—with the help of other things, like therapy and healthy habits, of course. The American Journal of Critical Care found that participants in a study had reduced anxiety and stress levels after completing relaxation techniques. It may sound obvious, but when scientific proof is backing your self-care routine, it’s easier to prioritize it for the sake of your health.
Even on the days when self-care seems impossible, remind yourself how beneficial it is in the short and long term. Showing compassion and putting effort towards improving how you feel will only positively impact other aspects of your life. If you need guidance on finding activities that fit into your lifestyle, read through some of our other self-care guides and speak with a trusted healthcare professional to outline a plan.