Last week, we broke down what self-care actually is. (Click here to check it out.) Now, we must discuss why it’s so important that we prioritize self-care in our lives.
In short… YOUR LIFE LITERALLY DEPENDS ON IT!
And I’m not being dramatic for the sake of theatrics! A lack of self-care negatively impacts our overall mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Self-care (or lack thereof) subconsciously affects our daily lives at the behavioral, cognitive, and physiological levels.
Did you know that a lack of self-care can lead to increased risks of depression and anxiety? Even if you love your life, lacking self-care often results in regular feelings of overwhelm because more often than not, you’re doing all of the things for all of the people all of the time!
And when you’re constantly putting your needs last, you are telling your subconscious that you aren’t worthy enough – good enough – valuable enough – fill in the blank enough to prioritize your needs, goals, and desires. And this increases those factors that lead right back to depression.
Have you ever felt like, “I’ve been going and going all day long, but what did I even do?” There’s a difference between being busy and productive. When you lack self-care, it’s easy to go through the motions of busyness while not actually being productive. You experience a decrease in energy and focus; while at the same time, you’re easily distracted. Some of us even get in a funk because we haven’t worked on our goals in who knows how long, but we literally don’t have the capacity to focus on the things that matter.
All of this easily starts to take a toll on your sense of self-worth or your sense of purpose and meaning in your life; and it also increases your stress. And guess what? We’re not meant to be stressed out all of the time. However, when we are, a chemical called cortisol is constantly released throughout our bodies. Cortisol is good in short bursts to aid us in the “fight or flight” response during life threatening situations, but it’s not good every day!
This increases your risk for heart disease, nervous problems, and high blood pressure. Headaches and body/muscle aches are also more frequent. A lack of self-care decreases your immune system’s ability to fight off infections and illnesses. So, you find yourself sick more often (which means you’re calling off of work or missing fun events).
Mood instability, fluctuating weight, and issues with sleep are also factors. You can end up eating too little… or eating too much. We lose interest in our hobbies because we’re always too exhausted to do them.
Listen! I could go on and on and on about the various ways that a lack of self-care negatively impacts your mind, body, and soul. But in the words of R&B singer Muni Long, we’d be here “for hours and hours and hours”! These factors (and many more) lead to a decreased quality of life, and studies show that it can even lead to a decreased life span!
All of these things impact the quality of our relationships. It impacts how we show up (or don’t show up) in life. It impacts our ability to overcome our obstacles. It impacts our ability to identify creative solutions to our problems. It impacts our careers and businesses (which means it impacts our money). But most of us don’t recognize and understand how a lack of self-care is deeply tied to the many layers and layers of our human experiences.
What’s important to know is that self-care is not something that you casually do when you find a chance. We must be intentional about prioritizing self-care into our regular, daily habits and routines.
Because when we put self-care on the backburner, eventually… we WILL burnout – at work, at home, and in life, in general. And it’s a gradual build up that you don’t see coming! One minute, you think you’re managing all of the things well enough; and the next minute, you’re knocked flat out on your butt! In other words, if you don’t proactively take care of yourself, life has a way of forcing you into the fetal position.
So… what are you going to do to start prioritizing self-care in your life?
P.S. Next week we’ll discuss some of the benefits of self-care.