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5 Reasons Why Self-care Is Necessary & Not A Luxury
March 2020 update: A quick update to this post re the importance of self-care in the current global crisis.
I wrote the below post before the current crisis, and I thought I'd add this additional section as an intro for the current period.
This week has been a brutal one for most people including me, as pretty much everyone is self-isolating globally in some capacity.
Times are challenging but I believe strongly that life is made of seasons, and we have what it takes to emerge from this better than we were.
Just this week alone, I have lost someone and I have another family member in hospital fighting for his life.
These times are real and it has shown me that there has never been a more important time for community.
The other important revelation in these times is that there has never been a better time for self-care.
I learned about the Oxygen Mask Principle this week from a mentor of mine.
Taken from the instructions we see when we board planes…
It states that in order for us to lead in times of uncertainty, we must first look after ourselves.
i.e. we must first give priority to our physical, emotional and mental needs.
Only then will be equipped enough to rise up and serve others as leaders.
I whole heartedly agree with this and have been applying this to my life for some time and more so during these times.
The below post shares tips for how I do this in my life practically…
Here is the original and highly relevant post:
Do you want big success in your career/business? Or do you want it instead in your private/family life?
I have read about so many “successful” people who have built great businesses etc but also on their second or third marriages.
It would seem that you have to choose a path – X or Y – not – X and Y.
Most employers reinforce this need to choose a path by pushing their employees to work every hour that exists.
Saying you’ve worked a 70 or 80 hour week has become a badge of honour.
What if there is another way?
A way that guarantees that you enjoy both outcomes of X and Y e.g. Successful career/business and a happy family life.
I believe that other way begins the day we start prioritising self-care.
I remember once watching a talk by Warren Buffett (88 years old) as he spoke to some young people.
He asked them to consider the scenario where they each get to choose one car for the rest of their lives. It can be any car (any colour) but it can only be one.
In this scenario, what would you do if you knew that you would only ever get one car for the rest of your life?
You will absolutely show that car love! You’d take care of it like you’d never believe. You would do everything possible to make sure that it serves you well for life.
The chances are, you will most likely get more than one car in your lifetime. However, you only get one body and one mind. That’s all you’re going to get.
That body and mind you have probably feels terrific now. But it has to last you a lifetime.
With this in mind, how should we start to rethink success and the opportunities we might be creating (or not) to enjoy it?
Self-care is simply the act of being loving and generous to ourselves.
It's easy to prioritise everything else from bosses we want favours from, to friends who don't really care for us.
It is also easy to prioritise a side hustle or projects that we want to take off the ground.
But what good is all this activity if we aren't there to enjoy them? Or if our family lives and relationships break down?
As I write this, I am also speaking directly to myself. I can certainly attest to having experienced burnout and days when I have maxed out my reserves.
Time in a day is finite and with 24 hours in a day, we need to be more deliberate about what portion of it is solely for our personal wellbeing.
With every choice we make to do one thing instead of another, there is always a real trade-off.
A true opportunity cost from not doing something else. A lot of the time, that true cost is lost time with loved ones or even with just ourselves.
Examples of this can be seen in choices we make every day to either sleep for 5 hours because we watched one more episode of our favourite show.
Or even the choice to work 12 hour days because it looks good as we approach bonus time.
The true cost of these activities can play out in higher divorce rates, poor relationships with children or even reduced productivity.
It's time for a rethink.
Benefits of Self-care
Below are important benefits of self-care:
1. Sustainable Life
Winning in life requires life to be sustainable in the face of the variety of activities you could be getting up to.
Prioritising self-care doesn’t ofcourse guarantee a smooth sailing life, however, it certainly leads to a more sustainable way of living.
Keeping it simple, you’re more likely to be around to reap the benefits of your hard work and more likely to endure into the future.
2. Creativity and Productivity
I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that I have the best ideas in the mornings. Especially when I have slept well and wake up excited by the day ahead.
Although creativity is inherent in us all, it is also a muscle that needs to be worked.
Focusing on yourself more not only has the effect of reducing stress and anxiety but also increases the quality of your creative output.
In terms of work, research also shows that beyond 50 hours of work a week, productivity falls off a cliff on average.
Therefore, overworking ourselves, often driven by a misunderstanding of the need to “hustle”, results in diminishing returns.
3. Better Relationships
A life of self-care presents a better offer from us to our loved ones, and who doesn’t love a great offer!
They get a better version of us, and nothing beats being present at the moment with friends and family.
It’s interesting that each day when I sit down to write down 5 things I am grateful for, my family always ranks high in those 5 things without fail.
So without prioritising self-care in my life, I may as well be failing my family and the quality of the relationship I have with each one.
Same goes for good friends and all the other great people we’re fortunate to have in our lives.
4. Higher Confidence
With better self-care comes a higher level of self-efficacy i.e. one’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular situation or to accomplish a task.
A high self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to have control over one’s behaviour, motivations, and social environment.
Creating margin in your life makes you better prepared, which in turn also leads to greater confidence as you face life’s challenges.
5. Increased Energy
Although it’s important to be efficient and manage your time better, there is a big misconception of time management out there.
The time you have per day is fixed! As such, a better way to look at it is through the lens of energy level management.
Increased levels of self-care lead to a higher level of energy, usually through better eating and exercise.
6. Wealth Creation
Better creativity, productivity, confidence, energy, and relationships most certainly point to more wealth creation.
Wealth has a wider definition beyond just financial wealth, however, it also follows that financial wealth flows out of getting the balance right in the above areas of our lives.
Related: The Wealth Health Relationship & How It Affects Us All
What Can We Start Doing Today?
The really fortunate thing about being able to wake up everyday (so far) is that we have the grand opportunity of making our lives better.
When I woke up this morning, I felt extremely grateful as I stared at my wife and my younger son who had crept into our bed.
I was yet again reminded about the importance of balance in life and the fact that we are running a marathon and not a sprint. Even with the marathon, it’s important to stop once in a while for a walk.
Below are some thoughts on how we can start to prioritise self-care going forwards –
This is at the top of my list and is easier said than done!
There are huge benefits to sleeping more, not least because it actually improves our brains and the quality of its output.
I typically sleep for 6 hours a day on average and I don't think this is good enough.
At the bottom end of the scale, I've had days when I've only slept for 3 – 5 hours.
Cheating myself out of sleep has consequences and it will be the same for you too.
My goal now is for 7 hours+ of sleep. To achieve that, something about our current process at home has to change.
This might even have something to do with #2 below.
Create Sacred Hours
One of the leaders I follow protects his first and last hour of the day.
In his words, it's a way of not giving up his sovereignty and power to the world.
How many times have you woken up and the very first thing you do is to check your phone for emails or WhatsApp or even Facebook?
If you think about it, there is something not quite right about doing this.
Making the first and last hour of your day sacred is an effective control for making sure that you spend it on you.
May I suggest running a bath or even reading a book in one of those hours?
I personally say a prayer as the very first thing I do daily. It has been a phenomenal year of prayer for me. You might find this all abit strange but for me, it's on par with my need for oxygen!
Whatever works for you, do it! But do it consistently. This could be meditation or even journaling (which I do too). There is so much to explore!
Exercise not only helps us develop physically, but it is also beneficial mentally.
There are so many inexpensive ways of exercising that can be enjoyable too.
I like walking, running and cycling, although walking is one that I explore deliberately every day without fail.
It’s an opportunity for me to have me time to think and to observe some of the often remarkable things we overlook daily as we rush around.
Seek True Community
There has never been a better time to seek or create positive communities.
I've drawn strength from having regular video calls with friends and family members, and seen the critical importance of intentional communities from one we created ourself online.
We happen to have created one such intentional community with a deliberate focus on learning, motivation, inspiration and fun, and I have to say, I've wholeheartedly never seen anything like it.
If you seek such communities in your life right now, seek them out and you'll find them. Alternatively, create one that serves your personal needs.
It is amazing how connected people can be even as strangers provided everyone is of a similar mindset and determined to help others stay positive and move forward. It works! 😊
To conclude, self-care is extremely important for your mental, physical and emotional health.
Although it sounds very self-focused, it’s very important because the need for us to live sustainable lives is also important to other people.
Each of our lives plays a unique role (whether we realise it or not) in society and the more we look after ourselves as the key asset, the more beneficial we are to others too.
Remember as Warren Buffett said, you only get one body and one mind, and that’s all you’re going to get. So make it count!
- Join Our Intentional Community for true Financial Joy
- The Power Of Generosity And Why It Pays
- The Wealth Health Relationship & How It Affects Us All
- The Importance Of Strong And Positive Friendships
How Are You Prioritising Self-Care In Your Life Today? Please share by commenting below.
Do please share this post if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy.
Christine Foucault says
Love hearing other opinions on self care and the benefits that come along with taking care of yourself. No one should feel guilty for spending time for yourself, it’s necessary to live a happy life!
The Humble Penny says
Well said, Christine. Comes down to what we choose to prioritise.
Thanks for the updated version of your original article Ken. So sorry to read that your family has been having to deal with these difficult times and the loss of a loved one. I hope that your other family member recovers well. Sending prayers and best wishes, Sonia
The Humble Penny says
Hi Sonia, much appreciated message. Thank you! 😊. I hope you’re managing to keep well in these times.
Could not agree more. Especially now where is so easy to lose our mind with the worries surrounding the virus. Great post Ken