Perspective: The oddly-short shelf life of self-focused self-care
The Winter Holidays are upon us and social calendars are filling up with obligations while others’ expectations of us are piling up, as well. There’s a lot of pressure to show up and show out during the coldest part of the year. While our hearts should be warming, sometimes our tempers are flaring as the pressure to offer kindness and good cheer leaves us cheerless and perhaps with the tendency to be a little less kind to others than we should be.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may think that indulging in a little “self-care” is needed. Unfortunately, engaging in self-focused kindness isn’t going to leave you feeling much better. However, practicing self-care by caring for others can provide a lasting boost to your well-being.
Engaging in prosocial behaviors strengthens your sense of community and connection, which are key to living the good life! Our brains have an in-house reward system for altruistic behavior and that’s the pathway to true contentment and joy. Finding ways to brighten the lives of folks you know and folks you’ve never met is well worth the time and energy required to do so. A research study called the “Big Joy” project revealed that engaging in “micro acts of joy” daily resulted in a 25% increase in happiness.
The benefits of self-focused self-care have a super short shelf-life, but when random and not-so-random acts of kindness become part of your daily routine, it’s a steady stream of micro-bursts of joy. Whether it’s expressing your gratitude or doing a good deed, kindness to others is the best way to be kind to yourself.
I’m Suzanne Degges-White and that’s my perspective.