Self-Care is NOT Selfish
“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of the rest of you.” ~Katie Reed
How do you take care of you? Is it something you think of regularly or has it been on the back burner for so long that you do not even know what self-care means? It is quite common when dealing with high stress or burnout that self-care is one of the last things on the radar. What if I told you though that self-care is a dominant force to combat the buildup of stress and assists movement toward resilience? It may sound counter-intuitive to take time to stop and make sure you are okay to manage stress caused by lack of time or overwhelm but if you do not pause to build yourself and energy back up, you will not have much left to give. When I work with people, what arises when the topic of self-care is brought up is either, “what is that?” or “I don’t have time for that.” What I say in response to these comments are you cannot afford to not understand, practice and engage in taking care of you if you want to be the best for those around you.
What is self-care?
Self-care is any activity we choose to do deliberately to take care of our emotional, mental, physical, spiritual or professional well-being. It may sound simple but in practice, it is making a conscious choice to focus on self rather than all the other responsibilities or distractions pulling at our attention. When you consider taking time out for your self-care, what are your reactions to doing it? Many times what holds us back from truly taking care of ourselves are the messages we learned or internalized holding us back from seeing the benefit from this focus on self.
Obstacles to self-care
Many times, when I work with people around stress management or burnout, I hear those sabotaging thoughts pulling people away from taking care of themselves or making themselves a priority. They feel guilty, selfish or even shameful when they consider putting themselves first even for a small period of time. When we get stuck in these thoughts, it is easy to put off those things that truly feed our well-being and overall satisfaction with life. Boundaries tend to get dropped and we take on more that we can handle. In that spot right now? When you forget (or avoid) to take care of yourself, it is quite easy to begin seeing more obstacle or barriers as immoveable or unchanging making it even easier to say, “why bother? I can do anything about this problem anyway.” A good example of this trap is the thought pattern “it is selfish to just take care of me- I have so many people (or other responsibilities) in my life that need my attention right now.” This thinking will make it quite difficult to pause action on those responsibilities to take care of you as truly no one wants to be seen as or believe of themselves as being selfish.
But what if…
… I told you it is selfish to NOT take care of yourself; that self-care is a necessity? When you ignore or neglect the need of self-care to take care of others, you are ultimately making it about you being needed, your role as the one fulfilling their needs, your significance from their point of view. That sacrifice then becomes about the perceived image you are presenting out in the world not truly about the contributions you want to make to others. Reflect on what you can contribute when you are fully rejuvenated and engaged. After that weekend away or that great workout routine- how does it impact your focus, drive and ability to contribute? When self-care is incorporated into daily life, you are able to be better for everyone, accomplish more and devote appropriate time and energy to those responsibilities in your life. I encourage you to truly consider this perspective, then, take time to develop a self-care routine and practice it to see what it can do for you and your relationships!
If you would like to speak to me about your struggles with putting yourself first or managing stress in your life, please be in touch. I’d be excited to discuss how I can help.