Self-care is not selfish!

By Monica Kathuria, PsyD

When we think about doing something for ourselves, we might hesitate because we might think of it in a negative way as being “selfish”. We have been given the message that we should give to others, think of others, and share with others. So, when we do something for ourselves, we are afraid we are doing something selfish. But what about self-care? Isn’t that about the individual giving to themselves? Thinking of themselves? When we are also given the message to take care of ourselves, we might feel conflicted.

Self-care is of huge importance because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be your best self; therefore, you can’t share your best self with others. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. Taking care of yourself is important because it allows you to open up space to give to others. But we find excuses – usually it is that there is not enough time. You’re right, there is not enough time in a day to do all the things we want to do, but there is enough time to do the things we need to do. And, taking care of yourself is a need to do.

Sometimes we might minimize things that are important for our self-care, and end up moving away from making them a priority. If you don’t get enough sleep, you can’t function properly. We’ve all been there – you know what I’m talking about! And, when we start to move away from these big things, we tend to let other things go. Have you gotten a massage to release the tension in your back? Have you gone to yoga lately to relax your mind and body? Have you had your favorite meal to reward yourself for a tough week? Some things we can do daily, some things are a bigger treat at the end of the month, but regardless of what it is, self-care needs to be incorporated into your routine.

It is believed that it takes 66 days to form (or break!) a habit, that is only about 8.5 weeks, or 16% of the year. So, if you’re looking for something daily, maybe getting up early to start your day is your new self-care routine. This gives you time to sip your coffee, rather than running out the door hoping you don’t spill it this time. And, even time to have a proper breakfast! Or maybe beginning a new workout routine – isn’t this the tough one most people want to incorporate, but time is a factor? Getting up at 5:30am to work out sucks. But, man does it feel good to have it completed first thing in the morning, and not feel guilty about having that extra piece of candy in our waiting area. Sorry, now you know why the peanut M&Ms are a rare find in the candy bowl!

Maybe you can incorporate daily 10-minute meditations to start and end your day. Weekly therapy appointments. Bi-monthly manicures. Monthly facials. Binge watching your favorite show (did you see S8, E3 of GOT?!). Whether you do something daily or monthly, it is important to make sure you are doing something for you. Consistently. So, block your calendar for some self-care time. Time will always be a factor to compete with, but taking care of yourself will make the time you do have for yourself that much sweeter.

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