The Science of Self-Care: Why Is It Important
Self-care is a term that we hear so often outside of its actual boundaries that it’s easy to muddle up precisely what it is and where it fits into our lives. Self-care isn’t just about bath bombs and luxurious meals and meditation (though it can definitely include any or all of those); it’s about taking conscious and necessary steps to maintain our health.
While our bodies are absolute powerhouses of keeping themselves chugging along as happily as possible, they can’t control what’s going on around them, what we put into them, and how we treat them on a day-to-day basis. That, right there, is what self-care is all about: filling those gaps in our wellness that the body can’t fill on its own.
The beauty of self-care is that it encompasses such a broad spectrum of behaviors, and it looks different on all of us. And whether your self-care looks like an intense workout, a dip in the ocean, a moment to mindfully eat your lunch, or taking a nap, there is science behind self-care that supports just how important it is in your life.
Self-Care and Clinical Diagnoses
One of the more steadfast and irrefutable conversations about self-care is around diseases like diabetes and Celiac Disease. These are excellent representations of what self-care is about at its core: helping your body support itself to the best of your ability when it can’t do it on its own.
For diabetics, this might look like following a strict diet plan, monitoring blood sugar, avoiding high-fat foods, and more. For those with celiac disease, it looks like keeping gluten out of the diet.
Self-Care and Mental Health
Enhancing mental health is a big part of self-care.
For example, a meta-analysis of psychotherapy studies point to considerable benefits in the mental health of therapy patients with depression. These studies looked at the patients over 9 months, and their mental health continuously improved throughout the study. Therapy has also been found to reduce blood pressure (by reducing stress) and support the treatment of drug addiction.
Effectively, therapy is a fantastic example of a scientifically-proven direct action you can take right now to improve your mental health and overall wellbeing.
Self-Care and Work
Self-care is important for supporting our everyday actions and responsibilities that some mental health professionals consider a moral and ethical imperative to maintain it. This is because establishing and sustaining a self-care practice is necessary for preventing burnout and impairing professional competence.
If you don’t believe us, try to spend a few weeks really digging into your own self-care practice and see what happens at work.
Self-Care and School
In the same way that caring for our mental and physical health is beneficial for work, so it is in school. This study actually analyzed overall wellbeing in a group of medical students, and researchers discovered that those who reported that they utilized self-care practices were more resilient and experienced less stress than their peers who did not use it.
Self-Care and Life Expectancy
The practice of self-care is a scientifically-backed act of increasing longevity. Let’s examine this with the example of cardiovascular diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death across the globe. Meanwhile, they can often actually be averted with a myriad of self-care behaviors, including ceasing smoking and alcohol abuse, increasing exercise, seeking information that can be used to combat the disease, self-monitoring, maintaining a healthy diet, and much more.
While these chronic illnesses are sweeping across the globe, an estimated 80% of them are preventable with self-care. When we look at science, engaging in self-care for your health could help you to live a longer, healthier life.
Self-Care and the Cost of Health
Healthcare, especially in the United States, is expensive and time-consuming. Fortunately, cost-effectiveness analysis studies like this one have concluded that engaging in self-care is likely to reduce annual healthcare costs.
The science is there, and the logic is simple: if we use self-care to prevent ourselves from getting sick or injured with simple tactics like maintaining a nutrient-rich diet and stretching, we won’t have to go to that expensive doctor’s appointment to get better in the first place.
Self-care science is the foundation upon which we can pave a road to our healthiest, happiest, and most-positive selves. Understanding that it comes from a place of study, knowledge, and objective information might just be the perspective some of us need to finally accept its importance and adopt it into our lives. If you would like to practice self-care, we have created multiple areas for you to do just that in all of our locations (sauna, anyone?). You can also practice self-care on our virtual wellness platform, iChuze Fitness, where we have exercises for the body, mind, and heart.