The benefits of self-care are many yet, especially when your world turns upside down from a major life event, you forget that taking care of you is the first thing you should do. You hear a lot about self-care these days. It feels like a trending thing. The truth is the practice of taking care of oneself has been around since the beginning of time. If it has been around for so long, why is it often the last thing you do?
Imagine: The alarm just went off and you hit snooze—again and again, and again. Your sleep was disrupted more times than you can count by all the worries on your mind. Your legs feel heavy, as though they couldn’t hold you. There is a dense fog clouding your brain. Getting up and facing the day is only the first chore on your agenda. You know you have to get going but repeating another day like yesterday makes you want to pull the covers over your head and ignore everything, hoping it will all go away.
This is a sure sign you are overwhelmed by your circumstance. It may be the loss of someone important, or you’re afraid of losing your job, or the loved one you’re caring for is draining every ounce of patience from your body. There are many changes in life that can contribute to burnout. That feeling of exhaustion and lack of motivation can be hard to overcome. Stress and frustration exacerbate the situation.
Let’s look at how taking some time to care for yourself in this situation can help.
The First of Many Benefits of Self-care
When you feel totally depleted, it can be difficult to refuel and refill your personal resources. Your resilience to handle anything is at an all-time low. When you practice self-care on a regular basis, the first benefit is your cup is never empty.
Think of yourself as a beautifully painted teacup and saucer, with gold rimming the cup, its handle, and the saucer too. As you take care of yourself, you fill your cup. The more you fill it, the fuller it gets, and the more energized and motivated you are to move through your day with ease. As your cup begins to overflow into the saucer, you have plenty to give to the other people and responsibilities in your life, without feeling spent, used or abused.
It Slows Your Pace Through Life
Taking time to nurture yourself, whether it is physically, emotionally or spiritually, naturally causes you to slow down. Even if you choose to go for a run, which is speeding up your usual pace, you are likely to be slowing down your mind as you focus on your steps, the environment around you and your breathing.
If you choose to meditate, take a long bubble bath or have a massage, you are allowing yourself to slow down. Changing the speed at which you engage with your life, especially when a difficult event has knocked you down, will shift your perspective and allow you to take a break from the chaos.
Think about moving through your life in 2nd gear rather than 5th gear. Would that give you a chance to notice more things? I had a conversation with a woman recently who was in high gear all the time. She is a wife, mother to five active boys, and manages a successful business. Out of the clear blue, she was broadsided with a cancer diagnosis that stopped her in her tracks. As she took care of herself and began to heal, she learned to live in 2nd gear.
Your Body Breathes Relief
Self-care includes some of the things we take for granted and may not think of as self-care at all. Rest enough, sleep soundly and nourish your body with good food so it can keep up the pace. All these things boost your immune system and improve your resistance to illness.
When you’re able to arise each morning feeling refreshed, the trials and tribulations of life seem less daunting. Not only do you build resistance, but you build resilience. That combination will take you a long way to adapting to life change and building the strength and stamina to move through it.
You Feel Emotionally Grounded
Being kind to yourself—in whatever form that takes—helps you to feel more compassionate to you and to those around you. Once you recognize the benefits of self-care, you will want to treat yourself to those activities more often. This practice will improve your self-esteem and confidence.
As you step out wearing those beautiful garments, you demonstrate your compassion for yourself. This sets an example for others who will want to mirror your image.
Have you ever heard or said to someone else, how do you stay so strong in the midst of adversity? Being centered in who you are, taking amazing care of yourself, and being able to show up with grace and dignity are true signs that you are reaping the benefits of self-care.
Keeps You Focused on What’s Important
Especially during a major upheaval in your life, showing yourself kindness and compassion help you to keep your eye on the most important things in your life right now.
Self-care allows you to set healthy boundaries, so you are not extending beyond your limits. Understanding what’s most important gives you the basis from which you can make better choices and decisions.
When you know what to focus on, you become more effective and productive.
Allows You to Embrace Peace and Positivity
We live in a very noisy world. Life events that knock us off our foundation require us to listen to all that noise from a different and weakened vantage point. Turning the chaos into calm can be a challenge.
Allow yourself to find some peace and think more positively about your circumstance.
You may find peace in a place—a sanctuary, the beach, a mountain top, your own backyard or prayer closet.
Peace may come from sitting quietly, without interruption, and digging deep so you can soothe your heart and soul.
It’s not important where you find peace, but that you do. There is just so much a human spirit can bear without cracking under the pressure. Find your release. And when you do, speak kind words to yourself, about yourself, and about others.
Take the negative thoughts, that will inevitably shout in your ear, and replace them with their positive counterparts. The brain is a wonderful thing—make it work in your favor so you can feel this benefit of self-care to its fullest.
Stressed? Who says you’re stressed?
Refilling your cup, slowing your pace, taking care of your body and your emotional well-being, and finding some peace in the chaos can help you to reduce the stress you feel from every angle. Simple, yet not easy. It takes practice for sure.
Deciding how committed you are to taking care of you is an important first step. Do you hope someday you’ll be able to? Will you try? Will you do it until something else happens? What if you did your best? Or, perhaps you can do whatever it takes to make it happen so you can reduce the stress and frustration that comes with the life situation you face today. It’s up to you to choose how committed you are to make life better.
Facing major life events is one of the easiest times in your life to put yourself last. Understanding the benefits of self-care can help you to decide to do something different. Rather than allowing your circumstance to consume you and take control, step back for just a moment. Reevaluate and choose to take care of you so that you can refill your own cup and take back control.
Just do one thing—see how that feels. Then do one more thing. Just a small shift in your actions can make all the difference.
Stepping onto Your Bridge
When life-changing moments flip the world upside down, I create a bridge for women so they can turn chaos into calm, build resilience and learn to live a life guided by their own values and vision. If you’re ready to take the first step onto your bridge and explore how change can impact you and how to move through it with more dignity and grace, get my free ebook From Darkness to Light: Learning to Adapt to Change and Move Through Transition.