Self Care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.
-Via ( The Minds Journal)
You’ve seen these people many times: The Mom with multiple children pulling at her, a baby in her arms, with the look of someone who hasn’t slept through the night in years, let alone had a chance to put on make-up or style her hair. Or the man who sleepwalks into work each morning, overweight, depressed, and holding a Mountain Dew in one hand and a donut in the other. How about the college student who stays up into the wee hours of the night, fueled by stress, caffeine, and the notion that a person has to suffer if they want to be successful and land that perfect job?
While society and the media might have given us the misguided impression that self care is indulgent, selfish and expensive, I am here to explain why nothing could be farther from the truth. And I want to assure you that self care is actually the least selfish act you can perform on a daily basis.
The World Health Organization defines self care as “The ability of individuals, families and communities to promote and maintain health, prevent disease and to cope with illness with or without the support of a healthcare provider. Self care encompasses several issues including hygiene, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental and socio-economic factors. Promotion of self care is a means to empower individuals, families and communities for informed health decision making. It’s all the steps people can take to manage stressors in their lives and take care of their health and well-being. Self care prevents diseases and illness.” (www.who.int.) So self care is not selfish, it is mandatory to our health and to our emotional and physical well-being. Now let’s take it a step farther and see how it benefits not only us, but the people around us.
When my four kids were little I was very busy attending to their needs (and wants) and a lot of the time I was stressed out and exhausted. I would be quick to lose my patience with them and then I would feel like a bad mom. By the time my husband got home from work, the practices for whatever sports were over, the kids were fed and bathed, and the homework was completed; we were both exhausted. In those days there wasn’t a lot of left over energy to take care of ourselves; and looking back now I think that was hard on us individually and as a couple. Bless you single parent families! I can only imagine how much tougher it is to do all of this as one person. Hindsight being what it is, I know if I had realized this one simple truth our lives could have gone a little easier: If you don’t tend to your own wellbeing and make yourself a priority in the middle of the craziness that is life, your body is going to break down. How then can you possibly put your best self forth when dealing with others? It’s the same idea as securing your own oxygen mask before assisting others. If you are passed out on the floor, how in the world are you going to help anyone else?
Whether it’s giving your all to a job you love, being the supportive, loving partner to you S.O., or bringing your “ A”game to parenting your kids everyday, you must learn to prioritize yourself and practice self care in order to be that person. Nurturing yourself allows you to nurture others. Read it again – Nurturing yourself allows you to nurture others. It is not selfish or indulgent and it does not have to be costly or time consuming.
Let’s touch on some simple things you can do everyday to take care of yourself.
1. Give your body what it needs. Breathe clean air, drink enough water, fuel your body with nutritious food, get some exercise and get the kind of sleep that rejuvenates you. I know the last one is hard with young children, but do your best to make sleep a priority when you can.
2. Take some time (even 5 minutes has major health benefits) to be still and quiet and just breathe. Call it meditation, call it zoning out, call it locking yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes – it doesn’t matter. Please just try to find a few moments of peace at least once a day.
3. Engage in a sport, hobby, or any pastime that allows you to destress and brings you happiness. Go for a walk alone or with a friend, listen to your favorite music and sing at the top of your lungs, go fossil hunting, or binge your favorite Netflix show. Finding a way to wind down your brain for awhile is beneficial because psychologically it can allow you to get better quality sleep, be less irritable, have less anxiety and lessen feelings of depression. Destressing also improves interpersonal relationships with family, friends and co-workers.
4. Feel what you feel. Being an imperfect human in an imperfect world isn’t easy. Learning to accept all your emotions and even embracing them is healthy. Burying those buggers because they scare you, or you don’t want to deal with them right now probably won’t work for long – at some point they are going to demand to be addressed and most likely that time won’t be opportune. If you are sad, let yourself cry, if you are frustrated, express that frustration. If you are mad: scream! (into a pillow if you don’t want to alarm the little ones) but let those emotions out. Remember that feelings are never wrong. You feel what you feel for a reason and it’s all OK.
5. Love Yourself. Loving yourself is not the same as being conceited. A conceited person brags about the opportunities they have received because of their greatness, while loving yourself means you are kind and understanding with yourself. Loving yourself is needed in order to put value on yourself and make yourself a priority. Speak kindly to yourself because you hear and feel everything you say to yourself and it impacts you positively or negatively. Loving yourself means you take care of YOU!
Incorporating these 5 self care habits can make prioritising yourself feel less overwhelming. But if this still seems like too much too soon try picking one and implementing it over a week or so. Once taking care of yourself becomes forefront in your mind and you start to feel how great it feels, you will most likely want to expand your routine more and more. When you see how positively it affects those around, you will understand why taking care of yourself is truly one of the least selfish things you can do.
It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.
Mandy Hale — Influencer