Self Care Leads to Happiness

Yoga on sand

By Nichole White, Courier & Press, Dec. 22, 2015 –

We live in a busy and demanding world, where it seems like everyday responsibilities and stress are always increasing. Stressors such as working, raising children, caring for elder parents, going to school — not to mention life-changing events such as moving, marrying and divorcing — can definitely take a toll on us.

To help balance life demands and maintain health, we need to practice self care. Self care is defined as “a necessary human function which is purposeful, learned, and continuous.” Therefore, it is important to be in charge of your own self care and essential that it is part of your routine.

I did not really understand the importance of self care until I had my children. I loved being a parent, but it also brought on feelings and stress I had not experienced before.

To help manage my stress, I took up running and training for my first half-marathon. I always joked with my family and friends that I would run 13.1 miles for some peace and quiet!

I also focused on my friendships and building new relationships. I made a point to schedule girls’ nights with my friends, and I started a new hobby with Thirty-One Gifts Inc., which allowed me to get out of the house and meet new people.

How do you know if you need self care? Well, everyone does!

Here are some signs that you may need to focus more on self care:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • Constantly being sick
  • Obesity
  • Trouble concentrating and poor performance at work/school
  • No alone time

If you have ever said, “I don’t have any time for myself,” then you are also in need of self care. It is important to spend time alone. It gives your brain a chance to recharge, and resting mind and body is essential for dealing with stress.

So what does self care look like? It’s doing what you love and enjoy.

The 10 most important steps in self-care are:

1. Get plenty of sleep.
2. Eat foods high in nutrition.
3. Exercise. Exercise releases the chemical serotonin in your brain, which influences your mood. Exercise at least 3 hours a week.
4. Seek social support. Spend time with friends or increase your social network by joining clubs.
5. Make time for hobbies. Do what you love, whether it is reading, yoga, gardening, playing sports, drawing, fishing, etc.
6. Pamper yourself. Treat yourself to a massage, pedicure or bubble bath.
7. Stay mentally sharp. See stress as a challenge and not a threat. Stay alert by playing games that challenge your thinking and reasoning skills.
8. Have the right attitude. Be positive and optimistic. See the good in the challenge.
9. Process emotions. Feelings are messages telling you that something is not right. Spend time alone reflecting on what you are feeling.
10. Practice spirituality. This can include prayer and meditation.

As writer and self-growth pioneer Jennifer Louden has said, “Self care is not selfish or self-indulgent. We cannot nurture others from a dry well. We need to take care of our own needs first, and then we can give from our surplus, our abundance.”