We’re all being bombarded with back-to-school advertisements, reminding us that summer fun is coming to an end. For many this causes intense anxiety because we now have to be more structured and be governed by the never-ending to-do list. We may be having sleepless nights; we may be waking up in the middle of the night with physical signs of anxiety; we may get up in the morning and start the day on the verge of panic attacks.

Our world is stuck in a go-go-go mentality that values constant productivity over mental and physical health, and it can be anxiety provoking to keep up with that pressure and not allow time to take care of ourselves.

But, what if we could change that?

Most people are under the misconception that taking time out of our busy lives to do things we enjoy is selfish. On the contrary, there are several ways in which self care can benefit both us AND the people around us:

  1. Stress Relief – No matter what type of self care you choose, taking time away from your to-do list can greatly reduce your stress levels. Of course, some days we have things that need to be done immediately, but consistently running in high gear is bound to burn you out. Self care activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga are extremely beneficial for stress-management.
  2. Mood Boosting – When you have a frustrating day or overwhelming list of things you want to get done, it is easy for our mood to suffer as a result. Setting aside time for self care allows you to reflect on your day and create space to acknowledge and/or work through your emotions. Even more, self care activities like painting your nails, spending time with someone you love, or coloring in a coloring book can lift your mood by providing a much needed distraction.
  3. Increased Productivity – Often it feels like we have to work 24/7 to reach our goals and get everything done. Sometimes, however, we lose focus. We are running around trying to do too many things at once. Stepping away from your desk or to-do list, even for a couple minutes, can help you refocus your efforts and be more productive in the long run. Self care activities such as taking a short break outside, calling someone you love, or taking a walk can be done anywhere and help get you back on track.
  4. Positive Health Benefits – As the American Psychological Association points out, stress, specifically chronic stress, can be extremely detrimental to your mental and physical wellbeing. Chronic stress can contribute to the development of anxiety, depression, insomnia, a weakened immune system, and heart disease. Managing your stress levels through self care, as well as certain acts of self care themselves, can mitigate these effects. For instance, self care activities such as yoga, taking a nap, getting enough sleep at night, and exercising promote wellbeing for both your mind and body.
  5. Setting an Example – For teachers, parents, and older siblings alike, setting aside time for self care teaches those who look up to you that taking care of yourself is a form of self-respect. Engaging in self care conveys the message that taking time to do things you enjoy is okay, and even encouraged. For a future that diverts away from the rat-race mentality, self care activities such as setting boundaries, learning to say “No,” and scheduling “me time” are all great ways to teach the art of slowing down.

Consistently making time for self care can create a noticeable positive shift in your mood, interactions with others, and overall outlook on life.

The next time you are feeling overwhelmed or burned out, check out some of the self care suggestions in this article. If you are struggling to cope, please give us a call at 908-914-2624 or email us at info@anxietycounselingnj.com. We specialize in using evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help provide action-oriented strategies to give you control over your stress.

By: Michaela Patoilo