The Myth:  Self-care is selfish

In my work, I encounter many people, especially women, who feel selfish for taking time for their own care.  This thought fails to see the difference between being selfish and self-care.  Being selfish is thinking only of your needs at the expense of the well-being of someone else or even yourself.  In contrast, self-care is about knowing what you need to take care of yourself and others.  Basic self-care includes getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising in a way that keeps your body healthy.  It’s what every parent of a toddler knows: everything falls apart if I’m hungry or tired! 

These concepts are universal self-care aspects; you may have other ways to recharge your battery.  The list of possibilities is endless and this is where self-awareness comes into self-care— only you can know what recharges your battery and it is your responsibility to build that into your life.

One person’s relaxation might be another person’s breaking point: an introvert might prefer alone time with a book, whereas an extrovert might prefer a social gathering. Taking a walk in nature, a spinning class and training for a marathon are all exercise, but the specific activities appeal to different people.  Attending a concert or bird watching; zumba or yoga; going out for dinner or cooking a nice meal; singing in the church choir or playing guitar in a rock band.

Taking care of ourselves is also a way to take care of our loved ones

We all hear the flight attendant tell us to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting someone else and that is because when we are depleted, we cannot care for another person effectively.   This is where self-care intersects with our ability to care for others.  

As a parent or partner, there will always be times when we need to meet someone else’s needs ahead of our own, but this is difficult to do if you are depleted.  As the Buddhist saying goes, “You cannot feed someone else if you are hungry”.  That is why our own self-care is also a gift to those we love.  When we are fulfilled, we can be there for them and can model that taking care of yourself does not take away from others.

So determine what recharges your battery and make time for it today!