You’re completely overloaded at work. Your to-do list is overflowing with overdue tasks. And, your housework is so far behind you don’t think you’ll ever get it caught up. In an effort to get it all done, you skip your work out, work through your lunch break, and give up on your social life entirely. When we’re stressed and overwhelmed, self-care is usually the first thing we put on the back burner. Unfortunately, that only makes you feel worse.
“Self-care” probably seems a little indulgent and fluffy at first glance, but it’s absolutely essential to your overall health and wellbeing. Most of us feel like the more we sacrifice, the bigger the reward. Think back to that big test you stayed up all night to cram for in high school. You probably figured pushing yourself and studying hard would pay off, but it turned out you were so exhausted the next day, you could barely complete the test at all.
The point is, while hard work does pay off, it’s possible to take it to the point where it becomes harmful. You’ll have less energy, and it will be hard to focus. Your skills won’t be as sharp. You just won’t be nearly as productive. You may have the best of intentions, but you won’t be working nearly as efficiently as you would if you took the time to take care of yourself.
Self-Care Isn’t Indulgent, It’s Essential
It’s so easy to put off self-care when you’re busy. Sometimes even the smallest reprieve can feel like a self-indulgent luxury. If taking the time to hang out with your family, exercise, or eat a healthy lunch feels like slacking to you, it’s time to make a point of adding self-care to your routine.
Here’s Why Self Care is so Important:
- Practicing self-care keeps you from becoming burned out. Everyone’s done it at least once or twice. You push yourself so hard that you just can’t take it anymore and you just want to give up. Self-care can keep you from reaching that extreme.
- Self-care can help you manage stress. Small amounts of stress keep you on your toes, but when you’re living in a constant state of stress, it can take a heavy toll on your mind and body. When you stop and take care of yourself, you’ll be able to manage your stress load better.
- Self-care helps you stay focused. Sometimes, when you’re stuck on a problem, the best way to come up with the solution is to take a break and walk away for a little while. When you come back to it, you’re more focused on the problem at hand. It’s the same with self-care. It’s just like taking a break from everyday life, so you can perform better when you come back to it.
How to Add Self-Care to Your Routine
First of all, stop thinking of self-care as a reward. For example, don’t work until your so hungry you can’t think straight, forcing yourself to finish a task before you eat lunch. You’re just making it harder on yourself by forcing your body to run on fumes. Self-care isn’t a reward, but an essential part of your daily routine. Sometimes, we get so caught up in getting it all done, we forget how to take care of ourselves.
- Take the Time to Exercise and Eat a Healthy Diet, Even if You’re Busy
Yes, exercise does require energy, time, and often a trip to your shower. It’s not always fun, and it’s easy to put it off when you’ve got other stuff that needs doing. But, it’s also crucial for your health, so you need to find a way to incorporate it into your routine. Find a gym that’s on your way to work, take long walks at the end of the day, or find a form of exercise that you genuinely enjoy, like dancing or swimming.
And, we all know how important it is to eat healthily, but so many of us find excuses not to do it. A great way to incorporate healthy eating into your routine is to start small. Maybe you cut back on the sugar one week. The next week you get your carbs under control. You could include an extra serving of fruits or vegetables with each meal. The point is, focus on one aspect of your diet at a time, so you don’t feel overwhelmed and lose your motivation.
- Add Alternative Therapies to Your Routine
Alternative therapies like yoga, acupuncture, and massage are all great for self-care because they’re good for the mind and the body at the same time. According to alternative medicine experts at Yinova Center Brooklyn, alternative therapies “can relieve stress, anxiety, and depression,” but it doesn’t stop there. These therapies are also great for treating many physical complaints that go hand in hand with stress, like “headaches, digestive issues, and chronic pain.”
- Don’t Overload Yourself
Are you working 50 or 60 hours a week and feeling irritable, stressed, and unfocused? You’re not the only one. Studies show that after 50 hours of work, output and productivity suffer drastically. It’s time to learn how to protect your schedule, so you’re not overloaded all the time. That means you are going to have to say no sometimes, even when it’s not easy.
At work, try delegating tasks to co-workers who aren’t as overloaded. Leave chore lists for your kids at home, and make sure they understand it’s not optional. If all else fails, simply tell them your too busy to take on another task right now, but feel free to check back with you in a couple of days. And, if you’re the one overloading your own schedule, block off time for self-care so that it becomes a priority.
Of course, if it’s your boss that’s asking too much, this can be really tough. You might need to sit down with him and discuss your workload and responsibilities. Explain that you’re overwhelmed, and your productivity is suffering, it may not work with every boss, but it’s better than just sitting back and saying yes to everything.
When it really comes down to it, taking care of yourself is more important than any other task because it’s essential to getting everything else done. If you’ve let self-care go because you’re too busy, it’s time to make it a priority. Following these simple tips will help you add self-care into your daily routine.