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The Importance of Self-Care

Posted August 7, 2014 by Carolyn Stroud in Life After Five
In a stronger, smarter, faster, better world, self-care usually takes a back seat. We’re constantly looking forward to goals, plans and achievements. Crossing things off to-do lists, conquering the next challenge, taking care of friends and family, and generally do the most amount of “stuff” in the shortest time period possible is what is socially rewarded. But if we don’t take care of ourselves first, everything else suffers; without fail. Self-care means preserving yourself for the things in life that really, truly matter and making peace with the rest.  Not everything can be a priority so we must take care of our needs (which included both relaxing and working hard), before we start making a life of busywork.  It’s ok to take it slow for a day if your enthusiasm is waning…you’re needed again tomorrow to show up for your friends and family.

Lately, a cycle of negative self-talk has been taking its toll on my productivity and obviously overall mood. I’m quicker to get frustrated, quicker to quit (a project, a run, an idea…) and quicker to feel unworthy and lacking. I would never let anyone talk to me the way I talk to myself so it’s time I share my tips for practicing self-care and treating myself like I’m my own number one priority.

The first and most important step is to RECOGNIZE THE CYCLE AND STOP IT IN IT’S TRACKS. Quit whatever you’re doing and take a look at what’s frustrating you. Tune in to your moods, your body and what’s going on around you so that you can nip it in the bud with a calming, positive, self-centered activity or two. A certain level of anxiety is important for optimal performance, but we can lose out center if we forget to keep the stress in control. Getting to the root of the problems and recognizing that your priorities are shifting in an undesirable direction is the first step to solving any issue. Tuning into your intuition and deepest needs and desires on a regular basis should be a top priority if we are to live fulfilled, fully expressed lives. A practice of self-care helps us listen to our gut when there is an awful lot of outside noise and distraction.

DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF. It doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive or elaborate, but it has to be relaxing. Get back to doing what you do because you actually enjoy it, not because you have to do it. Sometimes even our hobbies can feel like chores if we’re overwhelmed or feeling negative about other things in our lives. Lighting a candle, taking a bubble bath, dancing around the house like a goofball to your favorite song, meditating, turning off the social media and/or calling a friend are all possibilities. But self-care looks different for all of us. And it is needed at various times and at varying degrees throughout our lives. So start discovering what I feels like for you so that it becomes a practice; something you can go back to time and time again when you feel especially depleted and low.

About the Author

Carolyn Stroud

Carolyn Stroud works in finance at a commercial real estate firm in Chicago. Her previous experience includes mortgage banking, leasing, running a start-up and captaining an adult co-ed kickball team. Originally from Detroit, she has an undergraduate degree from Kalamazoo College and an MBA from Pepperdine University. Carolyn is a voracious reader and passionate about growing outside her comfort zone. She recently completed her second marathon and is always up for a challenge.