Given the events of this past year, you might not recall your last airplane trip precisely. But you likely remember the standard preflight instructions that we all have heard repeatedly. Part of those instructions recommend that a parent place an oxygen mask on themselves first before attending to their child. Unless they care for themselves first, they’ll be unable to perform the tasks needed to care for their child. This seems quite obvious, but when it comes to the importance of self-care, we tend to forget this simple fact. In fact, most of us consider self-care activities as the last thing on our to-do list.
One of the biggest self-care myths is that self-care and self-help are selfish activities. Perhaps, we perceive these as selfish because the term “self” is included within these words. But if the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that self-care is far from selfish. In fact, it’s an essential activity that we need to perform in our efforts to help others. In this way, it’s no different than placing your oxygen mask on first when the plane is in distress. If we truly want to make the world a better place, we have to appreciate the importance of self-care.
Why Self-Care Is Important for All of Us
Particularly in American culture, most of us associate success with productivity. The more productive we are, the better our chances to attain success. To some degree this is true. If we have bold goals in life, then we must identify specific tasks that can help us achieve them. But the mistake we make is associating higher productivity with self-sacrifice. One of the biggest self-care myths is that meeting our own needs is a selfish act. But in actuality, self-care enables us to be our most productive. By making time for ourselves, we are able to refuel and reenergize so such goals can be better accomplished.
The importance of self-care is perhaps most relevant to our own productivity. But it’s an important pursuit for many other reasons. Self-care allows us to alleviate stress and anxiety. It also increases our capacity to become more engaged in life and in the moment. Self-care similarly improves all aspects of wellness beyond our physical health. Our emotional, spiritual, and social wellness thrive when we recognize the importance of self-care. And when we enjoy such comprehensive wellness, we’re better able to help those around us. For this reason, all of us should set aside time every day for these types of activities.
Defining Self-Care Activities
As noted, self-care activities are holistic in nature. The importance of self-care goes beyond physical health advantages to include every aspect of wellness. Therefore, a number of practices may be considered when planning routine self-care practices. These may certainly involve relaxation exercises such as meditation and mindfulness. But they may also include exercise, improved sleep habits, fun social activities, and even nature walks. The key is to determine what self-care you specifically need in order to be your best.
One of the other common self-care myths involves the notion that everyone needs the same self-care activities. In reality, self-care needs vary significantly from one person to the next. Someone with tremendous work stress may benefit more from mediation and exercise. Others may receive greater satisfaction from an evening out with friends. And some may feel energized when pursuing a specific hobby or life goal. In short, self-care is about identifying which activities best allow you to engage more fully in life. Once these have been identified, they should be prioritized as part of your regular routine.
Other Self-Care Myths
The most common self-care myths suggest these activities are selfish in nature and require some type of relaxing focus. But other self-care myths exist as well. Many fail to recognize the importance of self-care and believe it should only be considered after everything else is done. This type of thinking, though common, is backwards. In fact, self-care should be prioritized so we may be our best. Not only does daily self-care activities provide us with more energy to tackle each day’s hurdles. It also allows us to connect better with others in our community as well. The importance of self-care extends well beyond individual benefits, which is another reason self-care should be a priority.
Other self-care myths hold that these activities are difficult and/or expensive. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, however. Self-care can involve taking more breaks throughout the day to restore your energy. It might involve an hour walk in the woods on the weekends to regain perspective. It can also include acts of charity in the community. Many self-care activities can and should be both simple and routine. In this way, we’re more likely to consistently include them in our daily schedules. These types of false beliefs often prevent many from pursuing self-care overall. But once the importance of self-care is appreciated, it becomes easy to see that these myths are simply not true.
Some Tips for Embracing Self-Care
In determining which self-care activities might benefit you the most, it’s important to consider those that are most revitalizing. You may already appreciate that self-care myths are false and have some awareness of the things you need to do. If that’s the case, then it’s simply a matter of setting aside time each day for these endeavors. If you’re just now realizing the importance of self-care, you might not know which things to pursue. In this case, wellness experts offer a few suggestions to help you.
Some suggest identifying the hour of your day that you enjoy the most. Once identified, they recommend setting aside this hour for whatever self-care activity you choose. Others suggest picking a key word to serve as a daily mantra in order to remind you of the importance of self-care. It can be any word you choose, as long as it encourages you to engage in a regular self-care routine. Most importantly, it’s essential to appreciate that many self-care myths are simply not true. By recognizing its key in promoting both personal and global wellness, self-care is something we all should pursue.
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