“Remember, you are your own best investment. Invest in yourself and your lifestyle. Quality of life is a key component in finding joy and maintaining self-confidence.” ~Akiroq Brost
Do you sacrifice your well-being to take care of others? If it describes you, chances are you’re doing more harm than good.
Consider when you get in a plane. What’s the first thing they tell you?
“In case of a loss of cabin pressure, please put your own oxygen mask on first and then assist your children or other passengers.”
They tell you that because, in the event that you do not take care of yourself first, you may pass out and die! You may only help save lives after you meet your own needs–not just in a crisis situation, but also in your everyday life. This is where self-care comes in.
I used to think it was selfish to prioritize my needs over the needs of others.
I thought to show love for others meant that I had to continuously give my energy to others and put their needs ahead of my own.. As a result, I felt tired and exhausted. I had given all of myself away and there was nothing left for me.
Not only was I working an extremely stressful position running a medium size business, but I was also involved with several side projects, which necessitated a combined 100+ hours per week.
To add insult to injury, I had been pushing my body to its physical limits at the gym seven days a week and sleeping just four to six hours each night. As though that wasn’t enough, I was trying to balance having a girlfriend, a social life, a household, and a family.
During this stage in my life, it was a common event to leave the home office and fall on the mattress, clothes on, after a lengthy day simply to awaken and repeat the cycle all over again. Finally, depression began to creep in, and I completely stopped doing anything for the sake of enjoyment; everything became goal oriented.
I forgot who I was. I forget how to be happy.
I had been solely focused on making money and making sure the people in the team were happy that I neglected myself, coupled with attempting to keep my girlfriend feeling loved and appreciated. It is known as the disease to please, and it’ll kill you if you let it.
I maintained this pace for a span of several years working 7 days a week and taking only a few days off each year until I had no choice but to pull on the brakes.
My immune system abruptly shut down, energy levels dropped and an onset of colds and flu began due to a weakened immune system, my adrenal glands were depleted. My intentions of operating like a well-oiled machine and performing above my bodies threshold could only persist for so long, i had to give in to my human limitation and reduce the workload, my efficacy came to an abrupt halt.
The disease to please had eventually caught up with me, I could not be everything to everyone and still operate at that level without something going against me, but I believe in hard work coupled with faith and that this was a sign that I was subconsciously looking for though at the time it did not seem like a blessing.
I hadn’t ever felt so low in my entire life, and that I knew I had to take this unfortunate series of events as a chance to grow and learn; otherwise, it would all be for nothing!
This is a huge kick in the pants telling me to SLOW DOWN CLARKE, TAKE SOME TIME FOR YOURSELF!
Finally, I’d gotten the message, and that I understood it was time to take a step back to reevaluate my lifestyle choices, motivations, and customs.
How could I expect to help others when I was not taking care of myself? I was putting myself 2nd to others. And that helps no one!
I understood it was time to quit sacrificing myself and start practising some serious self-care.
Stop Burnout & Exhaustion Before it Stops You
If you don’t take care of your emotional well being for an extended period of time, then you run the risk of a burnout. This is when you push your body and mind to the point of failure and you inadvertently are running on fumes just to get through the day until literally can’t go on anymore and you collapse.
If you are concerned about the signs of burnout, here are some indicators that you may want to acknowledge:
- You are exhausted by the end of the day that you collapse on the couch and fall asleep without realizing it.
- By the end of the week, you are so fatigued you can hardly get out of bed in the morning.
- You sleep an inordinate amount of time during the weekend just to feel normal again.
- No matter how much sleep you get, you wake up exhausted.
- Caffeine is a necessity to wake up and get through the day.
- You often work so hard you forget to eat.
- You have extreme cravings for junk food and eat excessive amounts of sugar for energy.
- You binge on Netflix and other distractions to avoid being alone with your thoughts.
If you find you are at risk of burnout, or just feel you want to take better care of yourself, self-care is the answer you are looking for.
What Exactly is this Self-Care about?
Originally I had a lot of misconceptions about self-care; I thought it was about being eternally happy all of the time. Then I realized it’s really impossible to be happy all the time and suffering is a necessary part of life that’s needed for personal growth.
True self-care strengthens and deepens our relationship together so we could know how to meet our needs fulfilled from a psychological, emotional, and physical standpoint.
Self-care builds your connection with who you are at the core of your being so that when the tides of life get rough, and the seasons change you are anchored and don’t get swept onto the rocks.
It teaches you about yourself and that its necessary to step back and surrender yourself so that you prevent burnout and exhaustion from onsetting. Ultimately, a self-care routine will enable you to understand yourself, find your passion and purpose, and take you on the path to living a fulfilled life by serving others and your higher self.
It’s difficult to break bad habits, particularly if you’ve spent years putting other people’s needs ahead of your own. Here are a few tips on how you can begin to treat yourself!
Self-Care Ideas for Mental Health
- Relax and allow yourself to do nothing (no phones allowed!)
- Read an educational book with a focus on personal growth
- Listen to an educational podcast (news is not included as educational)
- Play with your pet
- Cuddle your significant other
- Do something that makes you smile
- Create something artistic or play an instrument
- Listen to music you love
- Practice gratitude with a gratitude journal
Self-Care Ideas for Emotional Health
- Forgive someone you have been holding a grudge against
- Do something that’s scared you that you’ve always wanted to do
- Focus on your own needs and goals instead of comparing yourself to others
- Practice compassion for yourself
- Take a break from social media
- Allow yourself to feel your feelings instead of running from them or distracting yourself
- Read a fictional book that lifts your spirits
- Take a break from technology—unplug
- Help someone and don’t expect anything in return
- Practice positive affirmations (Example: You are enough just as you are right now in this moment.)
- Write down a few things you appreciate yourself
Self-Care Ideas for Physical Health
- Practice deep breathing
- Move to music you love
- Get adequate sleep
- Lift weights
- Play a sport
- Go outside—get some sunlight on your skin
- Try yoga or another mindful movement practice (also good for your mental health)
- Eat healthfully (i.e.: fruits and veggies, unrefined foods)
- Look in a mirror and love your body as it is right now, without judgment
How I Applied a Daily Self-Care Routine That Changed My Life
Self-care saved me from extreme burnout. It wasn’t easy to slow down and consciously give myself time during the day, so instead, I would get up early and spend one hour of time to myself.
I created a daily self-care pattern that started my day off on a positive note by hydrating, reading and listening to audiobooks. This positivity bleeds over into other aspects of my own life, and it’s been life-changing.
I had to create new patterns over time and I have noticed that I am generally happier and filled with a gratitude for my blessings daily.
Previously, I would put a lot of stress on my body with my way of business life and excessive working out. This stress created a hormone response within the body that made me gain fat instead of losing it!
It also helps that I’ve altered my mindset; whereas I used to work out just to get bigger, I now focus on my cardio, stretching and diet to age gracefully.
My gratitude practice is another significant part my daily self-care routine. By practicing gratitude I am in a position to find more minutes of joy in my everyday life and I am much more careful to those I love. With meditation and mindfulness practice I experience less anxiety, stress, and negative thinking.
Self-care has enabled me to be conscious of the constant neurotic thought patterns I’ve developed that hold me back and make me feel inadequate or like I don’t measure up. I can see more clearly how these routines are essentially bad habits.
And just like every bad habit? They can be broken! It’s been a huge confidence booster.
And here we are today!
If you’re like me and you also just take good care of everybody in your life except for yourself, I advise you to try out some of the self-care tips I shared previously. It actually is of the utmost importance not only for your own wellbeing, but for the health and well-being of everybody you care about too.
I know it’s hard to find time to give self-care; that’s why I recommend scheduling a hour of time every single day just for you. Self-care might appear absurd or frivolous, but it literally saved my life.
Plus it just may do the same for you!