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As a Business Development Specialist at Gore Mutual, I get many opportunities to speak with our insurance broker partners and do training exercises for them as well. But earlier this year during one of the Insurance Brokers of Waterloo Region’s monthly meetings, I did a different kind of presentation. This one wasn’t about insurance products or the services we provide to brokers and customers. Instead it was on the importance of self-care and how it relates to helping one deal with the stresses of life.

What I discussed is not only relevant to brokers and others in the insurance industry but also to so many of us in this fast-paced, ever-changing world. Many of us must deal with busy schedules, unrealistic expectations, difficult customers, difficult colleagues and then there’s that difficult family member too. However, when we are taking care of ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally, we’re much more equipped to handle the challenges in our careers and personal lives. Taking care of ourselves helps make us a better employee, co-worker, family member and friend. Most of us don’t elevate the importance of taking care of ourselves so my talk focused on why it is essential to take care of all aspects of ourselves to stay healthy and be effective.

It’s like putting gas in your car. We’re all busy and yet we find time to put gas in our cars. So, with our lives we need to make time to not only fill up our tanks physically but also mentally and emotionally. If we’re not taking care of one part of ourselves, the other parts suffer.

For example, if we’re not taking care of ourselves mentally and/or emotionally, our physical bodies will suffer through sickness or even disease. There’s so much research that validates the mind-body connection, so we need to become more conscious of our thoughts and feelings because they do impact our health.

Most of us understand that we need to take care of our physical bodies through things like getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthy. But we neglect the importance of taking care of ourselves mentally and emotionally by doing things like learning a new skill, reading a book, watching a documentary, practicing positive self-talk, being more grateful and going on a digital diet or a social media fast.

I also talked about the importance of letting go of toxic emotions that pollute our bodies and minds. These negative feelings are not only harmful to our physical bodies, but they unknowingly create barriers between us and others we work and live with. Ultimately the negativity hinders our potential to reach our goals and to be the people we were created to be.

Ask yourself what things in this list could you let go of: bitterness and resentment, shame, guilt, complaining, self-pity, blaming, comparison, being offended, the need to be perfect, the need to always be right, the need to prove how smart/powerful/rich/attractive/popular you are, the need to have everything in your world go according to your plan, having to have everyone like you and praise you or agree with you, limiting beliefs about yourself and your life’s potential. If you’re like me, you have a lot to work on. Most of us do.

Truthfully, letting go of these unhealthy emotions is easier said then done. Plus, the hard and often painful work involved is not something people like to do or talk about. It’s something you’re likely not going to receive a lot of outward praise for like you would if you told people you started working out every day or quit a bad habit. It’s not something people generally post on social media to garner tons of “likes”.  You won’t see many people posting, “Hey, I finally forgave a person who deeply hurt me 30 years ago,” or “Today, I was open to considering other people’s opinions and tried to see things their way instead of having to be in control and have things my way like I usually do”. Yet, as I mentioned earlier, science has shown how these unchecked negative thoughts, feelings and attitudes can be detrimental to our health and hinder our mental proficiency.

So, if you want to feel a little less stressed, more capable of managing what life throws at you and healthier, I encourage you to try picking just one element of self-care to incorporate into your life. Then do it. Once you do it, celebrate! You’ll see how good it feels when you accomplish it. That energy will propel you to make further changes. And, don’t be hard on yourself. You will never be perfect and that’s okay. Not even the people you compare yourself to on Instagram – it’s okay, we all do it sometimes – have it all together.

I once heard a saying that inside of you is an old person hoping that the person you are now makes wise decisions. Today, decide to make taking care of yourself more of a priority. Self-care is an act of love.

“Falling in love with yourself does not make you vain or selfish. It makes you indestructible.” – Unknown

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