Why Self-Care Is Important? (Plus Easy Self-Care Ideas You Can Try)
Do you feel like you’re in control of the stress that exists in your mind and body? Is your stress controlling you? This is exactly why self-care is so important.
Maybe you feel exhausted? You may even feel guilty when taking time for self-care because you’re missing out on something else.
We live in a very busy society, with lists of things to do, and we are constantly pursuing more productivity.
In fact, self-care doesn’t need to be an hour-long activity. It can be as simple as a 3-minute break.
Do you want to start doing self-care to feel more joy and be more grounded?
We will look into the tremendous benefits of self-care and I will show you 20 easy self-care ideas you can start today!
Ready to learn?
Let’s do it!!
What is self-care?
Self-care is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? When you hear about self-care, what do you think about? Let’s define it:
The WHO defines self-care as:
“the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
For me, self-care means two things. Self-care:
- Sets the foundation for how I show up in my work and life
- Helps me feel balanced despite stressors
Believe it or not, I used to feel a bit tense and stressed all the time.
I used to wake up and rush into cleaning my apartment for 30 minutes before starting work.
So how do you overcome this tendency?
It’s quite simple.
You develop a new habit!
Lately, I’ve developed a habit of waking up 10 minutes earlier to do 10 minutes of morning meditation before starting my work. Now I feel excited to start my day instead of feeling rushed and stressed.
Self-care also helps you feel relaxed and calm after a stressful day. You want to make sure to spend some time after work focused on yourself, so you don’t end your day feeling depleted and stressed.
If you want to start your day with more excitement and end your day feeling fulfilled, you are in the right place.
Next, Let’s learn about exactly how to make that happen.
What does stress do to you?
Are you stressed?
Of course, you are! Who isn’t?
Everyone has stress stemming from different things such as
- A stressful job
- Your financial situation
- Clutter in your house
In fact, WebMed says
“75% to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.”
In order to learn about stress, you must learn about stress first to be AWARE of what stress can do to you.
Here are five ways stress affects your body…
1. Chronic pain on your body
Do you suffer from stiffness in the shoulder, or upper back, or lower back? – I totally do.
Have you ever been told “Are you stressed?” when you went to a massage?
Your masseuse was right. Stress does cause chronic pain in your body.
In fact, when you are stressed, your body tries to protect you from injury and pain, so that’s the reason why you feel strain or pain in your body.
What’s worse, your migraine might be caused by neck or shoulder strain.
Think this way. Your body is connected. So when your upper body gets stiff, your scalp is pulled!
2. Heart problems
According to American Psychology Association, when you are under stress for a prolonged period, you may be at risk for more serious problems.
Your heart and blood vessels provide nourishment and oxygen throughout the body, and those two networks have a strong connection with stress.
You may have heard of “stress hormones” which are released when you are under stress.
Do you know what stress hormones can do to you?
They can dilate your blood vessels and heart which leads to increased blood pressure.
If you let stress control your body for a prolonged period, you may develop risks of strokes, heart attack, and hypertension!
3. May affect your bowels
Have you experienced stomach discomfort before an important meeting or exam?
YES. Stress can cause pain or discomfort in the bowels.
Why can stress affect your bowels?
It may be because stress can change the speed of digestion. Also, stress can bring in spasms in the bowel.
What’s more, stress can influence nutrient absorption in your intestines, and this may be the cause of feeling gassy around your belly.
4. Weakened immune system
Have you ever found yourself catching a cold or notice swollen gums in your mouth when stressed?
It may be because stress is causing some immune problems in your body.
The bright side is, if your stress only lasts a short time, stress hormones can help you reduce inflammation by boosting immunity.
However, if your body gets affected by stress for a prolonged period, your body can get used to always having stress hormones, and it can cause real problems for you.
What will happen if you are constantly stressed?
You may start developing depression, anxiety, and higher levels of inflammation, and your body may not be able to protect you if your stress lasts too long.
5. Weight gain
You may hate to hear this but stress can cause weight gain…
Maybe you find yourself relying on food for comfort when you are stressed.
But how stress can make you eat more when stressed?
Interestingly, when you are stressed, the stress hormone is produced and it can make you want more sweets or fatty food! Oh no!!!
What’s worse, the stress hormone can tell your body to produce less testosterone which may decrease muscle mass.
What does this mean? This means your body will start burning fewer calories.
All the things I explained about what stress can do sound pretty horrible.
However, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed.
Do you want to know what you can do to stay healthy even when you are stressed?
OKAY! Let’s do it!
Why is self-care so important?
You might be curious as to how you can deal with stress at this point.
There are two main reasons why self-care is so important.
1. Healing your body from stress
The first important factor is the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. What!? Don’t worry. I’m not here to teach you something difficult or confuse you. It simply means when you are stressed, your body can’t heal.
Your body can heal only when you are relaxed.
Lissa Rankin, M.D., explains the parasympathetic nervous system activation as “A chill-out state of the mind and body.” When you are relaxed, the parasympathetic nervous system is “in the driver’s seat,” and your body can induce a self-repair mechanism.
Do you feel better? If you can spend some time repairing your body from stress, you can still reverse the harm given by stress.
Lissa Rankin, M.D. says in her book.
“Back then, I was seeing 40 patients a day in my very stressful job as an OB/GYN, I would spend 12 hours a day practicing medicine then come home to my art studio, where I’d paint until bedtime.[..] While my physician job triggered my stress responses all day long, my painting elicited relaxation responses”.
2. Self-care can bring awareness to your life
Another benefit of self-care is you can be more aware of what’s happening in your life by taking some time for yourself.
I’ve been taking a mindfulness class from Jon Kabat-Zinn on Masterclass, and he explains awareness as we already are aware, and we don’t need to work on “cultivating” awareness. Rather what we need to do is to cultivate ACCESS to awareness.
He also said awareness isn’t something like sitting and practicing at a monastery in the Himalayas for 50 years, and then suddenly receiving awareness.
I really liked his explanation because I thought I’d get more awareness if I exercised it. We need to practice accessing awareness to use this powerful tool more often in our lives.
In the next section, I will give you some ideas about how you can relax to fight against stress and be more aware of what’s happening in your life!
Self-Care Ideas to Alleviate Stress
Do you feel guilty sparing some time for yourself?
Or maybe you feel like you haven’t earned your self-care?
The key is to prioritize your self-care time in your day. Feeling guilty? – maybe your partner and family would appreciate you taking time for yourself. If you spend some time on yourself, you are more likely to show up feeling happy, joyful, and calm!
I want you to take a moment and picture your day in your head. You may think you don’t have time, but you may be spending some time at night browsing Instagram. Can you spare some instagram time to take care of yourself?
In fact, self-care doesn’t need to be an hour-long activity. It can be as short as 1 minute!
It looks scary to start a new habit, and I encourage you to take baby steps and celebrate your changes every day! One thing leads to another – I’m sure you will find yourself being nice and kind to yourself by incorporating more self-care in your day!
If you find yourself relying on food or alcohol when stressed, this is a chance to start practicing healthy self-care! Let’s take a look at what you can start today!
- Make your bed after you wake up
- Pick up your outfits from the floor
- Add a lemon slice to your water and hydrate yourself 🍋
- Enjoy watering your plants if you have them and feel the energy from them!
- Plug in your phone on the other side of the room so that you won’t spend 20 minutes in bed after you wake up!
- Wake up 10 minutes earlier and meditate – this really sets the tone for your day!
- Set an intention for your day in the morning
Lunch & afternoon
- Don’t eat on your work desk, if possible
- Chew your food slower than usual and enjoy the taste mindfully
- Stretch for 5-10 minutes to be kind to your body
- Meditate for 5-10 minutes if you had a busy morning at work!
- Pick “peaceful birds” or “meditation music” playlists and listen to them during work!
- Pick a Youtube video and exercise 5-10 minutes
- Pick one new healthy recipe you are excited about and cook it the following day or week!
- Enjoy sharing stories of your day with your partner or your family
- Choose fruit instead of your usual snacks after dinner!
- Choose outfits and prepare stuff you need to bring to work the next morning
so that you won’t be in a rush the next morning
- Take a bath with bath salts or essential aroma oil and enjoy
- Learn something exciting instead of watching Netflix all night – I’ve been learning cooking, gardening, and mindfulness on Masterclass!
- Read a book instead of browsing your phone!
- Meditate 5-10 minutes before bed if you feel like you had a busy day
- Do yoga for 15 minutes if your shoulders are tight!
- Enjoy yoga with your favorite aroma candle.
I guarantee your day will start to change even if you only incorporate one activity a day!