[Image Credit: Wonderfelle. Edited by myself.]
You'll reduce your dependency on unhealthy coping strategies.From drinking one too many on a Saturday night through to self-harm, there are a myriad of unhelpful ways people cope with stress; learning to take better care of yourself means you have more resources to draw on when things are tough, and other things to turn to when it all gets a bit much. There's plenty of research to show that self-care is a brilliant way to improve your mental health - and that doesn't just apply to those with mental health difficulties. We all have mental health, and just as everyone can benefit from taking care of their physical health, we can all reap the rewards of improved mental health.
You'll have something to look forwards to each day.
Even if you just commit five minutes each day to doing something purely for yourself - that's five minutes where you don't have to worry about anything else! Maybe you could use it to motivate yourself to get out of bed a little earlier each mornng, or give yourself something nice to do at the end of a hard day at work. Giving yourself at least one good thing in each day can make such a difference.
You'll feel more valued by others.
The funny thing about learning to value yourself is - other people start to value you, too. If you often feel like people take advantage of you or just don't consider your feelings, practicing some self-care can give you a quiet confidence that will change that.
You'll sleep better.
And what part of a good night's sleep isn't winning!? A few minutes spent looking after yourself will help you to unwind and deal with stress, which will in turn help you sleep better. We all know a good night's sleep can make all our problems seem less daunting, and so this becomes a bit of a cycle - you feel better, so you sleep better, so you feel better...
[Image credit: Justyna Ka Photography.]Your relationships will improve.
Just a few minutes a day spent nurturing yourself, can gradually shift your mindset; you'll find yourself becoming gentler, more compassionate, and calmer. It may sound a bit backwards, but taking the time to look after yourself and think about what you need, can make it easier to understand what others need from you - and give you more resources to give it. Be nice to yourself, and it becomes a whole lot easier to be nice to other people!
Other people's opinions will matter to you less.
Sure, there are always going to be people in your life whose wisdom you'll seek, or who you'll go to for advice when you're struggling. But when you start to treat yourself well and value yourself, you'll start to have more faith in your ability to make decisions by yourself. You'll find yourself a whole lot less concerned what others might or might not think about your outfit, your parenting or your life choices. Being able to do things for you is a huge gift!
You'll start to accept your flaws.
No-one is perfect. We all know that, and yet somehow we're a lot more accepting of that in others than we are of it in ourselves. We all have a friend who's always late, or never rememers birthdays, but we still love them; we probably don't even notice flaws our loved ones see in themselves, whether it's a wonky nose or a jiggly tummy. How nice would it be to feel that way about yourself? Sure, you've got your faults - who doesn't? - but actually, you're still a pretty amazing human being! Treating yourself well will help you to realise this.
[Image credit: Wonderfelle.]Now I'm not trying to pretend that self-care is the cure of all ills - we all have shitty days/weeks/months, and taking care of yourself won't stop that altogether. Just as eating well and exercising doesn't stop you getting ill - it can reduce the frequency, and so too can self-care reduce the frequency of those shitty days!
How do you like to practice self-care? Have you noticed anything else about practicing regularly? If you'd like to learn a bit more about self-care, or get some suggestions of things you could try, Mind have a fab article, or check out my Wellbeing board on Pinterest! And if you're using lack of time as an excuse - here are 25 ways to practice self-care in five minutes or less, to get you started.