It's Not Selfish to Take Care of Yourself
- January 11, 2021 |
The New Year is here. Are you still keeping your New Year's Resolutions? If you're like most of us, probably not. But, let's think about something that is important for your family, your friends, and your co-workers. It's self-care. You did read that correctly; self-care is important to others. Let's take a look.
What the heck is self-care? First of all, it's not selfish. Think about the pre-flight safety talk. The flight attendant always instructs parents to put on their oxygen masks first and then to put the mask on their child. Why? There aren't enough attendants to take care of each passenger individually, and if a parent can't breathe, then the parent can't help their child. Taking care of yourself IS taking care of others.
The International Self-Care Foundation defines self-care as what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc.), environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.) socio-economic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.) and self-medication.
This could be a long discussion, but for our purposes today, we're going to look at three aspects: 1. Physical, 2. Social, and 3. Mental.
If you physically take good care of yourself, you are eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. It doesn't mean that you can't have an occasional Krispy Kreme Doughnut (we'll take a cream-filled one, please) or that you need to run at least one marathon a week, but it does mean that you need to pay attention and think about what's best for you – eat fruits and vegetables, take a walk, try meditation.
From a social point of view, humans are social animals. Most of us want (and need) to have some contact with others. Relationships with your family members and friends are important, and just like a pet, they need care and feeding. Make it a point to write a letter or an e-mail to an old friend, check-in on neighbors, and call your parents. Pay extra attention to the relationship with your mate – make sure you are actively listening when they are sharing news about their day in order to emotionally connect with them. Pets can help provide some social engagement when it isn't possible to gather with friends.
Mental health encompasses a broad spectrum of ideas. It is important to engage in activities that stimulate your brain. It is also essential to focus your self-talk on building a positive opinion of yourself. If you are a driven person and you miss a deadline, give yourself a break. Practicing self-compassion is as vital as is having compassion for a friend. Do a crossword puzzle, start keeping a journal, try a new hobby, take a continuing education class because creating a “new fold in your brain” is a meaningful step to staying on top of your game mentally and physically.
It's hard to take care of yourself. It's natural and ingrained in us to want to take care of others first. It's also easy to put off time for yourself and doing things that you enjoy. That's why we have to make a commitment. If you make a doctor's appointment and put it on your calendar, it is likely you'll show up for that appointment. Your self-care activities need to carry the same weight. Set aside – put it on your calendar – a little bit of time each day to listen to music, write in your journal, take a bubble bath. You're putting on your oxygen mask to get ready to do more for yourself and others.