Many people have grown up believing that making self-care a priority is selfish. But self-care may be the most generous, responsible and compassionate choice we can make. It allows us to not only take care of ourselves, but also ensures that we have the physical and emotional resources to share our talents and gifts with others. It allows us to be physically and emotionally present for the people in our lives.
Sometimes self-care involves saying “no” and making the choice to limit how much we extend ourselves. This can be extremely challenging at times. People may view it as self-centered or narcissistic. But living at the pace of a sprint on a daily basis can be exhausting – especially if we are already dealing with health concerns. It can lead to burn-out, increase feelings of stress and worsen physical pain or illness. This, in turn, can actually reduce our ability to be there for others in a meaningful way. In the long-run it serves nobody for us to overextend ourselves.
Putting self-care first is an act of healthy self-regard, but it’s also a choice that helps to produce greater balance in our lives. It demands that we do the powerful work of letting-go of any residual co-dependent attitudes and behaviors. It pushes us toward a healthier relationship with ourselves and with those in our lives.
Self-care in order to decompress from stressful emotions triggered by busy schedules, health challenges and feelings of stress from life’s challenges is vital in order to maintain balance and remain emotionally and physically healthy. It’s essential to acknowledge and honor any current physical limitations as we strive to heal. Not doing so will often lead to exacerbated symptoms.
Putting self-care first is no more selfish than putting on our oxygen mask first on an airplane in the event of an emergency. They tell us to put it on first so that, if necessary, we can assist others. If we didn’t put ours on first, we wouldn’t be able to help others because we would end up in distress ourselves.
Here are a few ways you might practice self-care:
- Get a massage
- Take time to meditate
- Stay hydrated
- Make getting to bed on time a priority
- Speak kindly to yourself
- Do something that brings you joy
- Love your body with healthy food
- Have lunch with friends
Diane Gross, L.Ac.