The Best Gift Ever: Why Self-Care Matters
…why investing in yourself is the best thing you can do for you, and for others
“Self-care” is a hot topic lately that’s been used to describe everything from face masks to meditation. But what does self-care really mean? In this stressful holiday season, investing in taking care of yourself, your wants, and your needs is the single most important gift you can give. Self-care, or self-investment, will look different for each person depending on your unique circumstances – but broadly defined, it’s about being as kind to yourself as you are to others.
Ways to Invest in Yourself
Some people find sensory self-care to be helpful. This type of investment in yourself is designed to help calm your mind so that you can be mindful and live more fully in the present moment. This may include taking a warm bath, doing some deep breathing exercises, or getting a massage.
Another type of self-care could be social. You may want to have lunch with a good friend, write an email to a family member, or sign up for a class to meet people and learn a new skill. These practices are all about finding happiness and meaning through connecting to others.
Self-care activities can be spiritual, emotional, or physical as well – from going on a run to attending a religious service. Sometimes investing in yourself could mean a literal monetary investment. The important thing is that they nurture a part of you that helps you care for yourself. At first glance, this may sound selfish – but self-investment is not only good for you and your well-being but also for those around you.
Why Investing In Yourself Is a Gift
It’s easy to see why self-care is an investment in yourself that can merit huge returns. When you’re kind to yourself, you discourage negative self-talk, which can build a more positive self-image and confidence. You also give yourself the room to turn inward and examine what you really need, allowing you to get to know yourself even more.
Scientific findings confirm that emotional and sensory self-care promoting mindfulness can have powerful effects on your wellness. Mindfulness can reduce activity in the amygdala, the brain region responsible for the fight-or-flight response, and can reduce levels of interleukin-6, a biomarker in the blood that is elevated in people who are highly stressed.
Investment in yourself isn’t just a gift for yourself – it’s a gift for the people around you, too. Practicing compassion is like filling a bucket – you can only fill someone else’s if you have some of your own. You owe it to your children, family, and friends to practice self-care so that you can be mindful, present, and healthy for their wellbeing.
Sometimes we have a tendency to spend more time focusing on the needs of others, more than our own, thinking that this is our job as parents, friends, or caretakers. This can be a dangerous habit, as it can create codependency or unhealthy boundaries. When you invest in others’ needs instead of your own, you deny them the chance to get to know the real, happy, healthy you that has enough energy to care for both your own needs and theirs.
New Year, New Things
The beginning of the year can be stressful for all of us – and often, it’s hard to find the time to pause for just a few moments to check in with ourselves. Even so, it’s one of the most important things that you can do for yourself and the ones you love. So, let’s start the year strong by giving ourselves the best gift of all: the gift of self-care.
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