"No one knows you better than yourself, so find what makes you feel good and add a little more of it to your life."
Medical professionals are naturally preoccupied with the needs and problems of others so it’s worryingly easy to forget about their own needs. We admire those who work all day on a few hours of sleep or those who get by on a granola bar and six cups of coffee. But when clinicians forget that they also have responsibilities to their minds and bodies, they end up burnt out and fatigued. It can become a vicious cycle, but it’s easier than you think to break free. All you need is a little self-care.
Self-care means intentionally trying to improve your mental, physical or emotional health. Good self-care can be a challenge for anybody; think of all excuses you give yourself daily why you can’t indulge in a little something for yourself. You’re too tired, there’s no time, there are too many bills to pay, it’s too much work. The list is long. Sometimes when you’re stressed, it’s hard to notice how your experience is affected by how your most basic needs are being met.
However, self-care is an essential part of living a healthy life. It is like getting your tank full with gas so you can function effectively and help others. The best way to step on the road to self-care is to start with a few simple acts and that can be easily incorporated in your daily routine.
What are the benefits of self-care?
1. A healthy relationship with yourself
Taking time out each day for self-care helps to develop a healthy relationship with yourself. It is an absolute fact that you are the most important person in your life. Medical professionals are all devoted to their patients. But, without a good relationship with yourself, your relationship with them will suffer.
Practicing self-care produces positive feelings, which helps boost confidence and self-esteem. Most of the activities you are likely to add to your list of self-care practices will make you feel good.
3. Productivity and motivation
Focusing on self-care can improve productivity and motivation. The fact that you’re taking time out will leave you feeling refreshed and energized. So, you’ll have more energy to get the other important stuff done.
4. Fight fatigue and illness
Neglecting self-care can lead to fatigue and illness. It also decreases your ability to support and look after those who are important to you (which leads back to point one!).
If you’re unwell, and always busy, you’ll find it difficult to look after your patients. This is where the benefits of self-care kick in.
Self-Care as Physical Pampering
You are more resilient and more able to handle life's stress when you are feeling your best both physically and emotionally. A massage, a soak in the tub, calming aromatherapy or other forms of pampering revitalize you inside and out. Elizabeth Scott, MS, an authority in self-care practices, offers some additional advice on how taking time to create a self-care regimen can benefit your health. She puts a special emphasis on activities that make you feel good physically and the ease with which you can make them a daily routine.
While self-pampering may appear superficial compared to healthy diet and exercise, the pleasure and relaxation you get from it can trigger the relaxation response, which can prevent chronic stress from harming your health, so in a sense, self-care is good for you inside and out.
Having a well-cared-for appearance can make you feel good about yourself and your life, and conveys to others that you value yourself. This can improve your sense of well-being in the long run.
The Importance of Physical Self-Care
1. Self-care increases your awareness of and connection to your body. It makes you more grounded, balanced, and present.
2. It promotes a sense of gratitude and appreciation of what you have.
3. Self-care helps develop love and compassion for yourself and your body. It is a common truth
that whenever you spend time to care for something, you come to love it.
4. When you love something, you want to treat it well.
5. And when you treat yourself well, it’s easier to keep yourself healthy and to care more effectively for others.
There are several approaches to self-care, some of which involve making time to get enough sleep, prioritizing healthy meals, ensuring a balance of leisure time in your schedule, and making time for friends. A simple but overlooked form of self-care is enjoying a pleasant self-pampering experience on a regular basis at home.
Taking a moment for a massage or aromatherapy is an effective way to manage stress for the following reasons:
Soothing your Feelings
Give your body some special treatment and you will naturally relieve your stress. Other than maintaining soft skin and radiant complexion, spa-related activities like massages and facials have been known to soothe and recharge everyone.
Creating a Culture of Self-Care
Creating a culture that values self-care starts with each of us. If we take a small step to better care for ourselves by some form of pleasant and relaxing treatment, our combined efforts can inspire similar actions in others. We can create a culture in which self-care is a tool for disease prevention, personal empowerment, and lifelong resilience.
Remember: Self-care isn’t a reward or a luxury, and it’s certainly not selfish. Be kind to yourself and make sure that taking advantage of the benefits of self-care is a non-negotiable part of your life from now on.
Assess your Self-Care Need
Let’s look at how you can tell if you need more self-care. See if this self-care checklist applies to you:
Your calendar is full
You are overwhelmed at work and home
You have many people counting on you
You don't get enough sleep
You're tired of getting colds and coughs
You don’t have time for self-care (going to the gym, getting a massage or a facial)
Having poor boundaries, too many obligations, and an inability to say no will start to show up. Often in some unpleasant ways in your life:
Increased stress and anxiety leading to high cortisol level
High blood pressure, heart disease, and bodily inflammation
Weakened immune system
Insomnia and poorer sleep quality
Resentfulness, exhaustion, and grumpiness
Ineffectiveness at work as the stress and tiredness affect your cognitive ability
If you’re always just pushing through in survival mode. If you’ll do some self-care ‘when you have time,’ you need to stop right now. You need to make self-care an essential part of your daily life.