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Why Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

You’ve likely heard the term “self-care” before, and it might conjure images of Instagram influencers on spa getaways or a group of 20somethings at a nail salon — with the requisite self-care hashtag, of course. While it may be advertised as a luxury, true self-care is not about being pampered. It’s about taking the time to take care of yourself on a daily basis, and it’s a necessity for good physical, mental, and emotional health.

The State of Self-Care in America

It’s safe to say we have a self-care crisis in America. A 2018 Gallup poll found that nearly two-thirds of full-time workers in America experience burnout on the job, with 23% reporting feeling burned out very often or always.

Several factors may contribute to burnout, but unmanageable workloads, lack of job clarity and support from management, and unreasonable time expectations are some of the most common culprits. What it boils down to is employees feeling like they just don’t have enough time. And this inevitably means they can’t take the time they need to take care of themselves on a regular basis.

Several factors may contribute to burnout, but unmanageable workloads, lack of job clarity and support from management, and unreasonable time expectations are some of the most common culprits.

What about vacation? Well, according to a USA Today article that explored how Americans stack up when it comes to downtime, it turns out America is the only advanced economy in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation time to its workers. On average, Americans take 15 vacation days a year, which is less than the mandatory minimum in many of the world’s richest countries. Many of us aren’t even taking the time off that we’re offered!

It can be particularly tough for women to take time for themselves. As natural caregivers, whether as employees or wives or mothers or daughters or friends, women often give so much of themselves to others that they leave nothing for themselves. Even vacation time is taken for holidays with family or health emergencies, leaving little to no time for actual relaxation.

The Dangers of Not Putting Your Mask on First

Employees experiencing burnout are more likely to take sick days and have a higher likelihood of going to the emergency room. The takeaway? All work and no play makes Jack a sick boy!

Chronic stress wreaks havoc on your health, weakening the immune system and creating inflammation, making us susceptible to a host of health issues.

You may feel like working harder, faster, and longer is better, or that caring for others should be more important than taking care of yourself. But if you’re not taking time to recharge on a regular basis, all that “productivity” will eventually backfire. According to the Cleveland Clinic, chronic stress wreaks havoc on your health, weakening the immune system and creating inflammation, making us susceptible to a host of health issues. Just like they always remind you when you get on an airplane, if you don’t put your mask on first, you won’t have the chance to help others with theirs.

Self-care is particularly important in times of extreme stress, and a global pandemic and national civil and political unrest is nothing if not stressful. So now is the time to find little ways to take care of yourself. 

How to Practice Self-Care

Self-care isn’t something you treat yourself to or do every six months on vacation — it’s about daily small steps you take to keep yourself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.

Here’s a list of some simple self-care you can incorporate into your daily life:

  • Get good sleep
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Make exercise a priority
  • Take 10-15 minutes a day to meditate or do yoga
  • Learn to embrace silence
  • Find a hobby
  • Spend time in nature
  • Enjoy time with people you love being around
  • Start a journal

There are many ways you can practice self-care, but it can start with the manageable step of taking just a few minutes every day for yourself. Even this simple action can be life-changing.

If you find it hard to practice self-care or feel like there’s something keeping you from taking care of yourself, you might benefit from a time of more intentional self-discovery where you can learn about your individual needs and wants. Workshops are a great way to gain more knowledge about your emotional, physical, and spiritual needs and jump-start your self-care journey. Check out Rio Retreat’s current schedule and make a plan today!