Self-Care is not Selfish

Over the last two decades, there has been an increase in articles, books, lectures, and programs devoted to mind-body awareness. It seems that our culture and generation is desperately seeking to prevent various diseases of the body as well as increase overall daily quality of life. We, as a whole, somehow came to the understanding that we have been “over-functioning” for way too long and many of us were coping in devastating ways. In other words, we want balance in our lives.

Through all of the different ideologies and methods touted, the term “self-care” made its way into everyday language and a new movement of considering yourself first became the main modus operandi. But what does it mean to take care of one’s “self” without it coming off as being selfish?

The best way to answer this question is to think about your body and your mind as a watering can.  The purpose of a watering can is to water plants so that they can grow and produce vegetables, fruits, and flowers and you can enjoy it all. In order to do this, the watering can has to be filled up with water. This is the same with our bodies and mind. In order for us to even have the opportunity to function at our potential, we must be filled up with what we need to fuel us…but for us, this goes beyond just water.

For certain, if you are already running on empty or feeling close to it, you will need to address the basics of sleep, proper hydration and nutrition before you can even begin to work on anything else. No matter how much we have evolved over the last millennia, humans can only function so long on adrenaline and sheer determination of will. So, begin the path to taking care of yourself by getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, promoting a nutritious healthy diet and daily exercise as soon as possible. If there are obstacles in your way to doing this immediately, then address those accordingly with the simplest of fixes first. For example, if you can’t get enough sleep because your environment is too loud, consider getting earplugs or a noise canceling machine. Or if you don’t know how to eat healthily, consider consulting with a doctor or searching online for reference —there are hundreds of resources that will assist you in knowing what is healthy and what is not. In this same vein, exercise does not necessarily mean you need a gym membership; it can be as simple as 30 minutes of a daily brisk walk or following along with a free online video on the floor of your home.

At some point, you may want to create a list of things that contributed to your overall depletion of energy. Writing them down will help you to really think about what is important in your life and what is not. Giving up those things that do not serve you will take time and there is no guarantee that the process will be fun or painless, but working on yourself is showing you that you are also willing to love and live. For example, simple things like turning off your phone at a certain point in the evening, or only checking emails during certain hours of the day can give you the much-needed time and space to just be. Or some changes could be a little harder to do such as saying “no” to people who always “need” something from you, including your boss or partner. Spending time with quality friends and taking pleasure in things that bring your joy will do more to fill your own watering can as well as promote lifelong happiness, then working 14 hours a day or being involved in a toxic relationship. And in the same vein if you are participating in any sort of addictions to escape— you may find temporary relief, but these will only eventually rob you of your independence.

Self-care, in essence, is thinking about your needs as whole and understanding how to take care of yourself so that you can even be able to be caring of others. Therefore, it is anything but selfish. What we do to care for our minds, spirit, and body is important and being considerate of your own needs is not only important to the quality of your life but to your own survival. Without self-care, you will burn out and miss out on some of the greatest experiences your own journey has to offer.