We are afraid of treating ourselves well.
For thousands of years, we have taught one another that we should be humble and selfless, ready to be compassionate and never coveting anything for ourselves. This is very sound advice, but we tend to take it too far.
We tend to make ourselves too afraid to be nice to ourselves for the fear of seeming (if only to ourselves) selfish, self-gratifying, and egotistical. We downplay our accomplishments and deny ourselves well-deserved rewards, self-congratulations, and really taking care of ourselves.
4 Reasons Why You Should Be Taking Care of Yourself
This is almost a crime against our own health!
Studies have shown that people who take the time for relaxing and taking care of themselves have fewer illnesses, both short and long term. This translates to fewer colds, lower risks for diabetes and heart disease, and higher tolerance to allergens. There are a lot of important reasons this is so, and we’re here to go over a few of the biggest ones.
1. Stress Can Kill
Primitive humans had all sorts of dangers to watch out for. Other humans, predator animals, and even the environment contained deadly hazards. As a result, humans evolved with two complementary systems to help cope with stress – the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The parasympathetic is when we are at rest, and it makes us hungry and relaxed. The sympathetic nervous system triggers what we know as “fight or flight.”.
Adrenaline and cortisol are released so we can either defend ourselves or run away from potentially dangerous conditions, and they would be used in either fighting or fleeing. However, what triggers the sympathetic nervous system today is vastly different.Our sympathetic nervous system activates in situations that are both long-term and non-life-threatening, such as work-related stress; from emotions such as guilt, embarrassment, or shame; and when we get bad news. The hormones released by the sympathetic nervous system flow for longer periods (for many people, it’s non-stop) and don’t get burned off by activity. Instead, they simmer as we worry about our everyday lives.
However, by practicing love toward ourselves, we can reduce the negative effects of stress, as well as the release of stress-related hormones.
Adrenaline and cortisol act on the body in a long term, raise glucose levels, lowers dopamine levels, reduces appetite and keeps us awake at night. The idea behind this system is to keep us alert and provide fuel for dealing with the stressor, but when all of this is floating around in your body indefinitely, it puts wear and tear on your body, as well as your mind.
This can result in physical ailments, from more colds and flu to diabetes and heart disease; and it can also lead to mental illness, such as depression and anxiety. Practicing self-love is one way of reducing stress, and by extension reducing the flow of these hormones.
“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.”~Deborah Day
Taking care of yourself, therefore, is not really an indulgence as much as it is a simple maintenance of your body and mind. It could even fall under the category of stress management. Self-compassion is about forgiving yourself for mistakes, but a mind that is stressed because of physical hormones will still be biased by the presence of stress. De-stressing actually helps us manage stress better, and taking care of yourself is a huge part of that. Furthermore, looking good with spa treatments, massage or even the sauna translates into feeling good, as confidence is boosted.
4. Taking Care of Yourself at Home
Even so, a lot of people still believe that taking care of themselves is an indulgence, and loathe to spend a lot of money on it. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to get the benefits of taking care of yourself at home, without the high costs!
There are lots of simple do-it-yourself tips all over the web that can teach you the practice of taking care of yourself with ingredients from your garden or grocery store. For example, avocados are packed with collagen, which hydrates the skin. Lilies are great for minimizing depression; even just seeing a lily can trigger the release of small amounts of hormones associated with joy. Green tea can be bathed in or applied to the skin and hair for rejuvenation.
If others are used to being taken care of by you, they might not like you taking the time to take care of yourself instead of them. You may meet with resistance from people who still have the mindset that taking care of themselves is an indulgence.
However, as bodies of evidence supporting the healthy benefits of taking care of oneself grow, these naysayers are being proven more wrong by the day. Finally, taking care of oneself is not to be confused with indulging. It is one thing to take some “me” time, it is another to be frivolous about it!
With all this in mind, go forth and show yourself some kindness. You’ll thank yourself for it!