If mental health is everyone’s problem – which it is – then self care is everyone’s responsibility. The oxygen mask on the plane metaphor may feel tired. But. They’re right. We need to put our own on before we help others. As a member of society, as a parent, a friend, a sibling, a child, or colleague. We have a duty to ourselves and those around us to look after both our physical and our mental health . And what’s one thing we can all do? Self care.
A little bit of self-care is a powerful thing. It’s a brilliant thing. If only we had the time.
Why Self Care is Important
We know it’s is vital for both our physical and mental health. It gives us energy, keeps us motivated, helps us cope better. The list goes on. And yet, many of us can’t find the time to do it. We’ve got too much going on. Juggling too many balls. Spinning too many plates. But self care helps us go further and for longer. It’s one of the reasons we can manage that massive to-do list and the multiple demands on our time. The equation less time working + more self care = better results. When we invest time in ourselves through self care. It’s an insurance policy for being able to cope with the demands of life. Whilst acknowledging that it’s not a panacea or a replacement for professional support. But it’s certainly a integral piece of the wellbeing puzzle.
We know that when we work a bit less and look after ourselves a bit more; we get more done. But we can’t wrap our head around this equation. It doesn’t seem to make sense that doing less would actually mean achieving more. But self care enhances our capacity to act. It boosts our resources to be motivated and productive. And thus, the math works. But society won’t let us absorb this lesson. It encourages to go faster and longer with no pause. And this in itself is self-defeating. Because we know that none of our resources are inexhaustible. They will run out eventually if we don’t take the time to refuel. What we need is less expectation and pressure. And more compassion and understanding of our basic human needs.
For A Guide to Prioritizing Self Care By Prioritizing You read here.
Is Self Care Selfish?
It seems part of the human condition, that most of us are very good at saying yes to other people. We’re just not great at saying yes to ourselves. I’ll own up to this myself. I’m great at reminding the people in my life to look after themselves. To normalize not getting everything done. And to prioritize their own needs in the midst of everything they do for others. If they worry about not going to a party, or not getting the chores done. I’ll remind them to talk to themselves as a best friend. Someone who would say. The cleaning can wait. It’s more important to look after yourself than go to a party when you’re not feeling up to it. And yet, I still feel the pressures to get it all done. To never let anyone down. For check everything off the to-do list. If only I’d follow my own advice.
And I don’t think I’m alone in this. We’re simply not great at prioritizing our own needs. Which is ridiculous when we consider the impact of unmet needs. We run around all day meeting the expectations of society, the needs of our jobs, our role as a care-giver or friend. The one person not on our list to look after is ourselves. If we treated the people we care for in the same way. Ignoring their needs. Encouraging them to burn the candle at both ends. Imagine what those relationships would be like. How toxic those communications could be? And yet, we have no problem neglecting our own needs like this. This idea is perfectly encapsulated in the quote below. By all means, be the shoulder to cry on. Go the extra mile for someone you care for. But don’t forget to treat yourself in the same way. At some point in time we decided having a break or investing in our own health was selfish. It’s incredibly important to remember it’s the opposite.
Don’t set yourself on fire, to keep other people warmUnknown
Encouraging people to do self care is usually met with reluctance agreement. We all know that we need to do it more. But as above. Many of us find it hard to prioritize our own needs. Worrying what that may mean. What won’t we get done? What will people think? That spectre of being deemed selfish can loom large. Whoever decided that looking after ourselves was a selfish act has a lot to answer for. Because you see, self care is one of the most selfless acts we can do. And that’s the reason that it’s everyone’s responsibility.
Self care isn’t just good for us. It’s good for the people around us too. For one thing, when I take the time to do it, I’m the best version of myself. Give or take a good night’s sleep the night before. Meaning I’m more compassionate and empathetic in my reactions with others. I’m a better parent and partner. A better daughter and friend. When I’m investing in myself I’m more productive and motivated. I have more energy to complete my tasks. That’s a bonus for everyone in my life; professionally and personally. When I do self care, everyone wins.
But there’s another layer here that we don’t talk about. One linked to that insidious self care is selfish myth. Because when we do self care, and we talk about it. We encourage others to do it to. When people see us prioritizing ourselves we give them tacit permission to do it too. Imagine a world where it was a given. An expected habit because we fully acknowledged the holistic health benefits. If we normalized self care, then far more of us would fee comfortable doing it. It wouldn’t be a hobby to do if we have the time. But a priority alongside many of the other things sitting on our list of tasks. Many of which don’t have as many health benefits as self care.
For Self Care for Depressive Episodes read here.
Embedding Self Care
It can be hard to get our brain to listen to new messaging. When it’s been bombarded with propaganda that self care is selfish. That a break is only earned when we have nothing else to do. No other pressing matters. But the more we engage with self care. When we embed it into our practise as a priority; not an option. Then our brain starts to sit up and listen. We begin to chip away of the feelings of guilt or shame for doing something for ourselves.
And, of course, the more we do it ourselves. The more we inspire the concept in those around us. All round, making time for self care has benefits for ourselves and others. The conversation on self care is finally gaining ground. It should no longer be viewed as a nice thing to do. A luxury. But as a vital piece of investment in our overall health. But this is the start of the discussion not the end. If we really to create change. And spread the message that self care is a selfless act. Then that responsibility rests on all our shoulders.
Because self care isn’t selfish. It never was.
For 10 Reasons Why Baking is Self Care read here.
What are your thoughts on self care? Have you heard it referred to as a selfish act? Has this blog post changed your thinking on the subject? Let us know in the comments below.