All human beings need to rest, repair and recover from daily stress, on the mind and body, in order to function at optimum levels, in their personal or professional life. The best way to accomplish this, is by paying attention to one’s self-care, as it can make a big difference between success and failure. I call it the self-care effect.

The Two Woodcutters

The story of the two woodcutters, is a fitting illustration of the results you will receive from your efforts, if you take care of yourself, or if you do not. The story is told of two woodcutters who were at loggerheads with each other, over who could cut the most wood on any given day. One day they met in the forest to settle the debate, with one requirement; the one who cuts the most wood by the end of the day, would be declared the winner.

After the first hour of cutting wood, Peter took a break. When John didn’t hear any chopping he became elated, concluding that Peter had ran out of steam. So John kept chopping away. This chopping and resting by Peter, continued for the entire day, with John only stopping once to have lunch.

At the end of the day, both men counted how many trees they had cut, and to John’s amazement, Peter had cut down more trees than he. “How could that be possible, when I heard you stop so many times, while I only stopped once?” he asked. “Every time I took a break, I sharpened my axe,” Peter replied.

By now you would have gotten the message. Whenever you engage in deliberate activities, in an effort to take care of your mental, physical or emotional health, you are actually sharpening your axe. In essence, you are improving your levels of performance and your chances of becoming more productive.

The Law of Diminishing Return

According to the law of diminishing return, productivity decreases beyond a certain point, in proportion to extended efforts. In other words, the quality and quantity of your results diminish after extending yourself over a period of time, without a break. Hence, because you are doing a lot more doesn’t necessarily mean, you are getting a lot more done.

Lack of self-care, can therefore lead to low self-esteem, lack of motivation, depression, irritability, relationship problems and suicidal ideation. On the contrary, taking care of yourself, can improve your wellbeing, which will intern improve your performance, which will improve your productivity and ultimately produce greater results.

Unplugging and Recharging

Have you noticed that the energy levels on your phone get depleted after certain hours of usage each day? When that happens to my phone, I stop using it for a while and put it to charge. Our energy levels also get depleted after a period of time and requires that we unplug from certain activities and get recharge, mentally, emotionally and physically, on a regular basis. The first step in taking care of yourself therefore, is recognizing that your body, brain or heart needs to recharge and then doing something about it.

Things you can do to recharge include, getting adequate sleep, taking short breaks during daily activities, exercising daily, eating healthy and on time, learning to say no, taking a vacation, taking a “me-day,”  being more organized and nurturing your significant relationships. Consquently, engaging in these activities, may just sharpen your axe, and have you becoming more and producing more in the short and long-term.