Your Risks Associated With Not Practicing Selfcare
Is your day filled from sunup to sundown with a list of to-do’s? Do you wonder how you’ll get it all done? Several executives recently discussed with me the toll their jobs are taking on their physical and emotional health. I listened intently, my team and I take this struggle from our clients very seriously.
Corporate culture tends to tell us to sacrifice everything for our jobs and to just “get it done.” But more and more people are questioning this approach.
It can be difficult to find the balance between caring for the needs of your company and taking care of yourself. Often we look at a self-care routine as just another “thing to do.” This blog is dedicated to why taking care of yourself needs to move to the top of your list.
Before you keep reading please know you can now hear my thoughts on this topic on our YouTube Channel or you can just keep reading.
We’ve all heard “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” but what does that really mean? It means you must care for yourself first and foremost in order for you to be able to give to others.
1. What happens without regular breaks in your day?
What happens when you go for a stretch of time without taking breaks or practicing some form of self-care? Really, think about it for a moment. Does the non-stop pressure lead you to losing your JOY? Do you become short-tempered and maybe even lose your cool? Typically, you don’t burst into the office, but it’s with your spouse or your kids where you can’t keep your emotions in check.
In fact, studies show that 212 million vacation days go unused. A whopping 52% of employees reported having unused vacation time in the United States. That’s a lot of work and NO play.
It’s amazing how we’re groomed to give everything to our jobs first and family second. Is this model really sustainable?
Employee self-care is becoming increasingly more recognized in companies — and for good reason. Both employers and employees benefit from you practicing self-care; they need you well and healthy in order for the company to be successful. Supporting employee’s health lowers employee attrition while increasing employee productivity, engagement, and improves business outcomes.
Taking breaks is necessary for your mental health and to recalibrate your system. You gain clarity and remember what’s important. You calm your mind and return back to work refreshed and energized. Feeling pressure all of your waking hours can actually lead to chronic issues like depression, anxiety, heart problems and high blood pressure.
2. Do you know the effects of chronic stress on your body?
When you are under stress, you worry or are anxious, your body produces two important hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones.
Adrenalin restricts the flow of blood in your body, pumping much of it into your arms and legs. Why is that? Well, if you rewind back tens of thousands of years, our ancestors were stressed only because there was some physical threat in their environment. A mammoth or a tiger might chase them. In such situations it is critical that you have all your blood in your extremities so you can either fight the attacker or flee.
When you start to feel stress, it means that the events in your life are causing signals in your brain to activate the nervous system and you are releasing hormones like adrenaline. Your body can react in a few ways; kicking up your heart rate, making you sweat, causing nervous ticks like nail biting, and giving you the feeling of butterflies in your stomach.
Over time, if stressful situations become long-term, the body goes from sweating a bit to having significant signs of stress overload. Symptoms of this include:
● Moodiness and Irritability
● Stomach aches, headaches, and chest pain
● Sleeping problems
● Depression or sadness
● High blood pressure
● Muscle tenseness and pain
The challenge today is that our bodies still think a tiger is chasing us although our stress is triggered by far less life-threatening reasons. However, our bodies still react the same way, moving blood to our arms and legs leaving organs and systems our body perceives as ‘less important’ in need of blood. This leads to digestive issues, cardiovascular diseases and a slew of other challenges.
The other hormone your body produces is cortisol. While important to help survive in situations of imminent danger, our ongoing elevated level of this hormone increases inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation not only weakens your immune system (which in times of COVID-19 is more important than ever), but also leads to health problems including this country’s most deadly chronic diseases - heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, and cancer.
Thought vs. Real Experience – Your body doesn’t care
Now here’s the kicker, your brain doesn’t care what you see with your eyes. Your brain doesn’t actually know the difference between an experience you have that is creating your emotion, and the emotion you create by thought alone.
Said in another way, you can be sitting in your home office feeling anxious about an upcoming board meeting or worrying about having the needed answers your teams are looking for, and with every anxious thought you think, you’re compromising your own immune system. That’s not good. To be really blunt about this, your thoughts can make you sick!
The situations above are actually “fake stress” that our bodies interpret as real. Real stress is a job loss, divorce, major illness – “fake stress” is a work deadline, running late, or having car troubles. As noted above, our bodies react the same, whether it’s fake or real stress. So what can we do?
You can manage your stress by managing your thoughts and emotions.
How you interpret the set of events before you, is how your body will react. Self-care is taking time out to calm your mind and detach from the hustle and bustle of the world. This not only feels good but allows your body to get back to homeostasis, the place where your body functions optimally again.
I’ve no doubt that you fully comprehend what I shared, but I also suspect that the little, but powerful voice in your head wants you to believe that if you take time for self-care, you will automatically accomplish less at work.
Initially in your career that might be true but long-term it’s a myth. For one, taking a healing break allows you to approach your work with so much more energy and creativity that you simply accomplish more in less time. You’ve felt the difference, haven’t you?
So let’s move self-care to the top of your list for good! At JOYVIAL, we are committed to helping you live your healthiest, most JOYful, fulfilled life.
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