Stress gets a bad rap, and with good reason. Although having some stress in our lives is actually a good thing — stress helps us stay on task to accomplish what we need to get done — the levels of stress many people face on a daily basis are anything but healthy. High levels of chronic stress can lead to depression, exhaustion, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia and even heart disease.
Self-care goes a long way toward reducing stress, but minimizing the related health risks is only half of how reducing stress helps you. Taking the time for reducing stress through self-care also does quite a bit to improve your day. Here’s how:
1. Self-care helps you stay focused. There’s nothing more frustrating that trying to get something important done and not being able to concentrate. But often, lack of concentration is due to the stress of having unsatisfied needs — you can’t sit still because you haven’t exercised, you can’t stop thinking of food because you didn’t eat breakfast, your mind feels cloudy because you haven’t slept. When you attend to your own needs first, your mental energy is freed to concentrate on things outside yourself — like a big test, presentation at work, or planning dinner for the screaming toddlers in your backseat.
2. Self-care helps you get things done faster — and better. When you’re able to focus, tasks that seemed daunting go much faster. You’re also able to perform better when you’re not preoccupied with your own unfulfilled needs.
3. Self-care makes you more creative. When you’re stressed, your brain follows known pathways to save time and energy — but you also wind up at the same old conclusions as always. By adding self-care to your day, you give your brain permission to think more creatively, which can do a world of good to situations in which you’re feeling stuck, whether at work or at home.
4. Self-care makes you happier. It’s no secret that large amounts of stress make people unhappy, so it’s no surprise that eliminating sources of stress makes you more content with your job, your relationships, your home life and yourself.
5. Self-care helps you sleep better. By relaxing and emptying your mind of worries before you head to bed, you spend your nighttime hours getting rejuvenating sleep rather than tossing and turning, worrying about what all you have to do tomorrow. Getting a good night’s sleep, in turn, helps the next day go smoother.
6. Self-care makes you a better listener. If you’re spending time with a friend but mentally planning out the next day while she’s talking, you’re not really listening. Make a plan first, then allow yourself to turn off that part of your brain and relax, and you’ll actually listen.
7. Self-care makes you a better friend. As discussed above, self-care helps you to listen to those around you, but if you’re not making time for your friends, you won’t have anyone to listen to. Part of self-care is making time to nourish your important relationships, and then allowing those relationships to nourish you.
8. Self-care makes it easier to keep engaging in self-care. Many of the benefits of self-care discussed in this article may seem circular — sleep is an important part of self-care, and self-care is important to getting a good night’s sleep. But that’s not an accident: When you take the time to make self-care a priority, those self-care activities make it easier to keep up your self-care routine. Self-care helps you to work more efficiently, which leaves you with more time to practice self-care. Exercise makes you crave healthy foods, which give you the energy to work a little harder, which earns you the money you need to get a massage, which helps you relax further. So get started today, and watch the benefits add up!
About the Author:
Gwen Stewart is a marketing guru for clients of Outbounding.com. She works far too many hours, but has made a personal goal of eliminating Sunday from her work week. Her vision for the Fall includes one hour of yoga 4 times each week, homemade soup, saving for retirement, and time off work. She also believes that a face lift can transform and empower a soul.