There are times when I feel that there is a common theme in life popping up all around me: in my sessions, in my yoga classes, and in my own life. The month of June, the theme was absolutely without a doubt, self-care is not selfishness. I feel like I had that mantra on repeat everywhere I went. My clients and students were struggling with making their needs a priority. I was struggling with making my own needs a priority. It just seemed with the transition into summer things had not slowed down at all for anyone. There were more commitments than ever.
I even caught myself wistfully longing for the old days of summer when I was a child and school was out. How that tasted like sweet freedom and peace. I seem to have operated much better when I had clear boundaries set around me; work really, really hard for 9 months then you get 3 months off!!! That served me so well. So well in fact, that I wasn’t ready for when there would be no clear boundaries around work and play. That I can work really, really hard all year long without anyone enforcing “me time”. Talk about rocking my world.
Man, when I think about it, what a disservice we do to kiddos. We condition them to bust their butts with the reward of months off without teaching them how to cope with never ending commitments and having to purposefully take care of ourselves. No wonder it seems most adults I meet we’re all struggling with finding the ever elusive “life balance”.
Somewhere along the way we get it in our heads that our needs are not important, or we recognize they are important but consistently keep placing others or other things in front of them. That is some real cognitive distortion and disservice to ourselves happening.
Think about yourself as a big well full of energy. When we give and give energy our well starts to deplete. Depending on how much energy we started off with we may be able to go longer than others before our well dries up. The more depleted our well becomes we start to experience manifestations of stress such as headaches, fatigue, insomnia, racing thoughts, irritability, and illnesses. Our well is running low on energy but yet we are still expecting it to give the same of energy it always did well it has to take energy from somewhere, so it does by soaking up our reserves which are meant for just us. Before you know it the well and our reserves are dry. When this happens, it isn’t good for anyone.
We must make time to refill our energy well. We do that through self- care. Self-care is simply an exchange of energy to give back to our well that has been depleted through our work, friendships, responsibilities, and families. Self-care fills our well, so we have plenty of energy to give.
Take the weight of expectation and judgement off your needs. Look at it from the perspective its energy and we wouldn’t expect our car to run with gasoline or its energy source, why on earth do we expect people to?
Give yourself permission to take care of yourself. Self-care is not selfishness. There are many different forms of self-care and they don’t all require large time commitments. Sometimes they do though. When your well is bone dry it is gonna take longer to fill it up, but when you learn to top off as you go then it doesn’t require large amounts of time.
I like to simply self-care into one question to ask yourself “what do I do that brings me joy just because I want to do it not because I’m obligated or have to, but I just want to?”. The answer to that question are your self-care activities. Sometimes we have to bring it even back to basics, for example “ Have I slept? Have a fed myself?” These are basic self-care activities that we can so easily by-pass. Get sleep, nourish yourself, and then read that book or take that walk.
Feeling guilty because you have small children or other things that you feel like should be more important than your self-care? You are teaching your children through modeling. You want them to grow up and understand balance? Then show them what that looks like to make your needs a priority. You don’t have to leave them for a long weekend to get self-care. You can get your self-care in when they go to bed, or ask your partner to help you out so that you can get at least 15 minutes to take care of your needs. You will be a more connected parent and partner if you refill your well.
Place the mantra “Self-care is not selfishness” on repeat when the guilt and anxiety begin to creep in. You are worthy of self-care and your needs are worthy. Take care of yourself and that elusive balance won’t seem nearly so elusive.
Hello! Welcome to my Blog on self care . I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Yoga Teacher.