Self-Care isn’t Selfish

by Ryan Grey

The term self-care is thrown around a lot, often without people really knowing what it is. It can be hard to know what to do for self-care, or if you are doing enough or even doing the right things. 

Self-care is anything you do for yourself that is good for your health and well-being. It is an act of love for yourself and the greatest gift you can give to yourself, and to the others around you. 

One thing I hear a lot that stops people from giving themselves good self-care is that they feel it is selfish. They feel that if they are focusing on themselves, they are neglecting others and that it isn’t right to put themselves first. 

A good analogy I read recently is that of the aeroplane safety announcement. During the safety demonstration, they always point out that in the event of an emergency, you must put your own oxygen mask on first, before anyone else’s, even children. The reason is because until you are safely breathing yourself, you aren’t in a good position to help others.  

Similarly, when your own self care needs aren’t first met, you’re not in the best position emotionally, physically or spiritually to be there for the others around you. Self-care is NOT selfish. It is an essential part of daily life. 

What do you envision when you think of the term self-care. Maybe meditation, yoga, mindfulness or nature walks. Maybe healthy eating, personal hygiene, quality time with loved ones or quality time alone.  

All the above can be fantastic self-care activities. And so can many others. There is no limit to what can be classed as self-care. If it improves your well-being in any way, then it is self-care.  

The secret to good self-care is getting to know what particular activities you need to do at any particular time to improve your well-being.  

Maybe a walk in nature always clears your head when you are overwhelmed. Maybe bingeing on a TV show is a really healthy distraction when you are worried. Maybe a nice bubble bath with candles heals your tired body and mind after a hectic day. Maybe after a hectic day, you like to go for a long run. 

Get to know what triggers good feelings and changes your mood in a positive way. After a particularly good self-care activity, write it down so you don’t forget. This could even lead to a self-care journal, where you record what works for particular moods and what doesn’t work so well. 

Recall activities you have done in the past that have made you feel better. What have you enjoyed doing, even as a child? If it worked for you then, it will probably work for you now, even in an adapted way.  

Maybe you had a hobby or interest that you gave up and never went back to you. Could you take it back up, or something close to it. Or even start to research it.  

Connecting to things you have done before that had a positive effect on your well-being will be great for your self-care. You may not be able to embrace old interests fully, but there will be a way to integrate them into your life.  

Doing this will help you to connect to and build your sense of identity, and possibly to connect with your inner child. Both of these are important to well-being. 

You may feel that you don’t have time for self-care. But it is very likely that you will have much more time once you start to practice good self-care. You will have the energy to be more productive in your work and at home and find that you actually have more time than ever.  

If you don’t have time for self-care, you need self-care more than ever. It doesn’t have to be much at first, but starting to do things for yourself, with the same love for yourself that you give others will make all the difference. You will benefit greatly, as will your loved ones, who may well already be telling you that you need to do more self-care.  

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