Why You Need to Stop Putting Yourself Last and Start Practicing Self-Care

Here’s a very interesting guest blog post from Brad Krause, creator of the SelfCaring.info website. Have a read then pop along and have a look at his site.

Are you the last person on your priority list? Do you bend over backward to help others but feel guilty doing things for yourself? If so, it’s time to stop putting yourself last and start practicing self-care.

What is self-care and why does it matter?
The National Organization for Women defines self-care as “doing things solely for the purpose of caring for yourself, loving yourself and your body, and being kind to yourself.” It’s an essential part of a balanced lifestyle — something everyone needs to stay healthy.

Self-care is important for physical and mental health alike, but it’s in improved mental wellness that the benefits of self-care truly shine. When you practice self-care, you reduce your stress, improve your self-esteem, and develop a sense of emotional well-being.

These mental health benefits are especially important when you’re in the midst of major life changes. When you’re freeing yourself from addiction, starting a new career, growing your family, or experiencing another big change, you’re more prone to feeling stressed out. You might even start questioning your self-worth and ability to handle the transition. Practicing self-care during times of change encourages you to stay present, mindful, and focused on your strengths — not your weaknesses.

How do you practice self-care?
Some people think self-care is about pampering yourself. While a pampering session can be part of your self-care strategy, self-care can also be much simpler than that. In fact, the simplest acts of self-care are often the most effective.

These are some of the best things you can do to practice self-care:
Get enough sleep
Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you’re getting less than that, you’re hindering your ability to make good decisions, control your emotions, and cope with normal day-to-day stress. Poor sleep is also associated with physical health problems like obesity and weak immune systems. Schedule enough time for sleep each night and practice good sleep hygiene so you start each day feeling energized.
Nourish your body
When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to think of food as the enemy. It’s not! Food is essential fuel for your body and mind, and you need to stay nourished if you want to feel healthy. However, the food you eat does matter. Choose nutrient-rich foods such as whole fruits and vegetables, lean meat, eggs, fish, nuts, beans, and whole grains while limiting the amount of sugar, refined grains, and solid fats in your diet.
Move your body
You don’t need to be an accomplished athlete to live an active lifestyle. Physical activity is important for everybody and every body. As long as you elevate your heart rate for at least 150 minutes a week, the specific type of exercise doesn’t matter too much. So, find activities you enjoy! Try an exercise class with a friend, take up an outdoor activity like hiking or rock climbing, join a recreational sport league, or try something else that sounds like fun.
Find time to relax
A lot of people take pride in being busy, but there’s value in slowing down and making time for relaxation. Relaxation calms you both physically and mentally. It’s key for coping with stress and clearing your mind, and relaxation even offers physical benefits like a lower heart rate, improved circulation, and reduced muscle tension. Set aside at least 10 minutes a day for simple relaxation activities like taking a walk, reading a book, or meditating.

After reading this, you might still be convinced that self-care is selfish. After all, everything we described involves putting yourself before others. But the thing is, prioritizing yourself isn’t selfish — at least not in a negative sense. When you strengthen your personal wellness through self-care, you empower yourself to be kinder, stronger, and more capable for yourself and for the people and things you care about most.

Image via Unsplash

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