Self-care is one of those terms that makes the occasional person cringe. A common response from people when I say self-care is “Obviously I care about myself. This is just a trendy term that you are using to try to get me to spend money on gyms and spa treatments.”

I used to think the same until I tried it. Once I tried it, my definition of self-care changed.

Self-care means you make time to put yourself first. It doesn’t mean that you need to spend hundreds of dollars at the gym, boutique fitness studios, or spas. But, if that is what you prefer then, by all means, go for it.

Putting yourself first means that you make the time, even if it’s just for an hour each week, to do the things that bring you happiness and serve your life a purpose. It’s about distracting yourself from the stress, anxiety, and bustle to which we’ve become accustomed.

In our increasingly competitive work places (and, not to mention, society), it’s easy to say, “I need to spend more hours doing [insert stressful/anxiety driving activity] to get ahead.”

On the other hand, it’s become, unfortunately, difficult to say, “I need spend more hours doing [insert relieving, relaxing, healthy activity] to get ahead.”

However, research has proven that exercise, health, and wellness have helped people advance in their careers and live more productively.1

Research has also proven that stress is linked to heart disease, lung ailments, and accidents.2

What fascinates me is that heart disease, lung ailments, and accidents are all things that can be avoided with proper health and wellness, such as an hour of exercise. And proper health and wellness can alleviate stress, helping us more productively engage in the work place and in social settings.

So if a=b and b=c, why aren’t we prioritizing self-care?

Take a moment to answer these three questions:

1) What brings you pleasure?
2) What energizes your mind and body?
3) What have you wanted to do that you’ve put off because you’ve been so busy?

Each week, give yourself at least one hour to do one of the items you listed in your answers above. This is self-care. It doesn’t need to be extravagant, it could be as simple as going for a jog, starting a journal, or practicing meditation. By giving yourself this time for self-care, you’ll soon begin to feel better physically and mentally, you’ll unleash creativity from your right brain that’s been locked up, and, you’ll realize that you will want to feel this way more often.

Self-care isn’t a trend, it’s about allowing yourself to live a healthy life and living that life to the fullest.