The feeling of satisfaction you receive when you help someone is undeniable; when you are there for them, you feel needed. There’s a price to pay, of course.
This emotion or feeling of acknowledgment comes with that price. It’s like a double-edged sword. You keep giving and giving until you feel drained, emptied, and you can’t recognize yourself anymore.
You ask yourself, “How does doing so much good leave you feeling so empty?”
You beg your soul to feed on all the good it’s doing, but it continues to feel starved You can’t escape the cycle because you’re stuck on repeat, and no one seems to want to click on the next button anytime soon.
Here, we are going to help you learn how to take care of yourself and become the best possible version of you, so that you really can be there for those that need you when the time comes.
What It Means to Take Care of Yourself
This is the million-dollar question, right? The answer to this question can either make or break you because the difference between self-care and being self-centered is thin. Taking the wrong step onto the wrong side could mean absolute self-destruction. So how do you find this balance? Does this mean making irrational decisions at work where you give up everything? No. Does this mean being so self-absorbed in your own needs that you begin to develop a blind spot to others? Definitely not.
Taking care of yourself is simply realizing that you’re also important. It means not to unnecessarily and constantly ignore your needs and the things that make you feel good. It can be best described as helping others by helping yourself first. It means prioritizing your happiness and fulfillment without infringing on others.
Let’s face it, we’ll always be needed by people around us—friends, families, and even coworkers—but most importantly, you’re also needed by you. Which would be your priority? Shouldn’t you extend the same kindness and consideration to yourself as you do to those around you? If you’re looking to live your best life, the answer should be a resounding yes.
Common Misconceptions Around Self-Care
Over the years, the idea of learning how to take care of yourself has moved through various misconceptions and myths. Fortunately, these are beginning to change as people realize just how important self-care really is. Here are some of the most common misconceptions that need to be busted.
Making Self-Care a Priority Is Selfish
This serves as one of the significant reasons for feeling guilty when we decide to put ourselves first. A kinder, more realistic way of looking at it would be to realize that taking care of yourself replenishes you and helps you take care of your loved ones better. You’ll practically be of no use if you’re constantly being depleted. Ask yourself if you’re really willing to sacrifice your joy and mental health.
People Always Need Your Help
There is a vast difference between being there when you’re needed and constantly hovering and waiting to magically fix everyone’s problem. As hard as it is to hear, you’re not the hero of the world. It is not your duty to save everyone. Not to mention that doing this would only rob the people around you of the ability to learn from their experiences. This inadvertently leads to a toxic relationship with constant dependence.
Boundaries Will Push People Away
There is a law that states you attract what you display. If you present yourself as always available or a rescuer, you’ll attract people that need rescuing. If you don’t set boundaries on how you should be treated, you’ll be continuously probed and pushed until you’re practically living for others, and your life doesn’t seem to be yours anymore. People will always test your limits and sometimes take advantage of your seemingly good nature. For this reason, boundaries are necessary and, yes, healthy.
It’s Bad to Expect Something in Return
While you would like to believe your actions are totally selfless and you expect nothing in return, we often feel resentful when our actions aren’t reciprocated. It would seem easy to blame others, but you have to realize that to take care of yourself is your responsibility, and although some people might take advantage, you need to understand when to set the limit and keep some of that love for yourself.
Your Worth Is Based on Others’ Opinions
Primarily, it all boils down to placing your value on other people’s opinions or desires for you. It all centers on our self-esteem and the confidence to sometimes say no when the situation calls for it. Realize that if you’re loved, you will always be loved for who you are, not what you can provide or offer.
Why It’s Important to Take Care of Yourself
Are you still doubting that it’s important to take care of yourself? It’s time to put that guilt away, because the effects are magical, and the results are practically life-changing.
Self-care helps to bring into sharp focus the things that actually matter to you. Placing priorities enables you to focus and direct your energy toward what’s important to you.
Do you ever have those dreams of trips you always wanted to take, but you never seemed to find the time for it? Well, putting yourself first helps you cut down unnecessary laybacks that waylay any and all desires and goals.
Improved Physical Health
In biology, there are two main types of reflex actions: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic reflex action. The sympathetic reflex action is our response to emergencies, also known as the fight or flight response. Research has shown that continually stressing over issues prompts the body to respond with sympathetic actions((Harvard Health Publishing: Understanding the stress response)). This reaction comes about by releasing certain hormones in the body like adrenalin, also known as epinephrine. These hormones in our bloodstream prepare the body by dilating blood vessels, increasing blood pressure, and overall stressing your body and weakening the immune system.
On the other hand, taking a chill pill and relaxing prompts the opposite reaction, which is the parasympathetic reaction that leaves you relaxed, refreshed, and strong enough to resist diseases, improving the health of your immune systems((Healthline: Your Parasympathetic Nervous System Explained)).
Once you learn how to let go of other people’s problems, you’ll find you use your sympathetic actions a lot less often, which is great for both your physical and mental health.
When you regularly carve out time to do what you want for yourself, it sends a positive message to your brain and releases endorphins that improve feelings of self-worth and confidence. Besides, it allows you to discover your values and realize your passion. It’s time to recollect your thoughts and discover yourself.
How to Take Care of Yourself
There are different methods of practicing self-care, and the trick is to find which you connect with and which seems to work best with your schedule. It also depends on the area of your life they need to be applied to.
1. Emotional Self-Care
This involves accurately projecting your emotions. When it comes to your emotional health, the best idea would be to lay out your feelings as they are and prevent unnecessary suppressing of emotions. You might feel tempted to bottle up the feelings, but the healthy option would involve accepting and dealing with these emotions. Remember that although you can’t control your emotions, you control how they affect you.
Tips for Emotional Care
- See a therapist. Although this is optional, it can be a great way to talk through your feelings and get clear on what you want and need.
- Reminisce constantly on good memories, as this keeps you positive.
- Keep a thought journal or diary.
- Never be afraid to let it out and cry, and ask for help if you need it.
- Music is famed to be the food of the soul, and research((BBC: The world’s most accessible stress reliever)) has proven that singing along to your favorite song is bound to improve your mood drastically.
2. Physical Self-Care
The benefits of self-care aren’t just limited to our minds, but it extends to show results in our physical bodies. Self-care is definitely known to improve your physical health. Even the simple act of worrying less exponentially boosts your immune system.
Tips for Physical Care
- Practice yoga to improve your mental state and enhance muscle tone and flexibility.
- Learn a new sport to activate the release of endorphins.
- Take a walk and connect with the scenery and atmosphere.
- Eat healthy to balance your hormones and offer your body everything it needs to keep you energized.
- Ensure you get at least 7-9 hours of sleep, as this improves brain function and productivity.
3. Miscellaneous Self-Care Techniques
Take time to connect with your friends occasionally, deeply. This promotes more satisfying and meaningful relationships, which improves your overall mood((HuffPost: Best Friends Can Help You Beat Stress, Study Finds)).
Never be scared to say no to an invitation you’re too exhausted to enjoy. If you need it, take some time for yourself and put in some solid “me” time.
Meditation always helps. It also highlights a list of things you’re grateful for as it helps keep things in perspective while helping you appreciate the good things your life has to offer.
Learning how to take care of yourself first might be the hardest decision you’ll ever make. However, in the long run, it will also be the best decision as it will allow you to finally become the best version of yourself and achieve all those goals you’ve been waiting to tackle. Get started on self-care today.