If you’ve ever been on a flight they always tell you “put your mask on first before assisting others.” Why do they say this? Because you’re no good to anyone if you pass out because you were too busy helping everyone else first!
If there is only one thing that you take away from this post, I hope that it’s: you’re not selfish for doing self-care. Making self-care apart of your daily routine will help teach you to create balance in your life between helping others and taking care of yourself and your needs. You matter too and it’s time you learn to start putting yourself first.
So why don’t we make ourselves a priority?
- Many of us don’t engage in self-care because we think it is selfish to do so. There are other things, and people that we believe deserve our attention and care more than ourselves. Often this is learned from childhood. Maybe you were the oldest sibling and were expected to take care of the younger siblings, or had to take care of an alcoholic parent, or were made to feel guilty for having your own wants and needs. So you learned to suppress your needs and desires and learned to put everyone else first. This behavior was probably reinforced because others accepted it gladly and so you felt appreciated and needed. But, this also taught you that doing things for yourself was selfish, and you don’t deserve it. So if you ever were to engage in self-care the guilt and shame that would plague your mind would be so overwhelming that the benefits of the self-care would be rendered useless.
Time and Effort
- Self-care requires time and effort. It’s easy to get caught up in our busy lives- taking care of the kids, going to work, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc and completely forget to do anything for ourselves. After doing all of this there’s very little you can think of doing or want to do aside from maybe vegging out in front of the tv or falling asleep. However, this is the time you most need to be engaging in self-care.
Why Self-Care is Important:
- You can only go so long without self-care before it begins to catch up with you and create problems. We clear the way for: depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, relational and health issues to overpower us when we neglect ourselves.
Meet Your Needs
- All too often I see clients who give and give to everyone else and people take advantage of their generosity. I have to remind clients that no one else is going to step up and take care of you. You have to be the one to stand up for yourself and make you a priority. If you don’t, you abandon yourself and deprive yourself of feeling worthy, important, and loved.
How to Start
Identify your Favorite Self-Care Practices:
- This is usually the best place to start. Brainstorm all the different things that you can do for self-care and write them down. Having an easily accessible list of self-care activities gives you zero excuses when you’re mentally exhausted and can’t think of any on the spot. Examples: Going for a walk, drinking a cup of tea, meditation, listening to music, exercise, journal, knitting, reading, and playing with your pet.
- Boundaries are there to protect you, your time, your feelings, energy and more. Boundary setting is important in self-care because it keeps you from being taken advantage of, and over extending yourself to help everyone else.
- You can start this by setting a boundary to keep work at work and home at home. That means when you come home from work no more work emails, calls or texts. You may have to let coworkers know about this boundary so that know you will not reply until the next day unless it’s an emergency.
Create a Routine:
- The best way to add self-care into your life is to make it apart of your everyday life. This allows you to stay on top of it even when life gets busy.
- Set daily reminders on your phone for self-care: such as to take a 5 minute walk every day or a reminder to leave work no later than 5pm every day.
- Make it a habit to turn off your phone an hour before bed and dedicate that time to relaxing, reading, or filling it with “you time.”
Listen to yourself:
- Too often we suppress the voice inside that tells us to slow down and take care of ourselves because of the thousands of excuses we can come up with, “I’m too busy, too tired, it’s too hard,” etc. You have to learn to tune into that part of yourself and prioritize those needs over everything and everyone else.
Author’s Note: Jasleen moved and is no longer working with Healing Hearts of Indy. You can choose another therapist by going to the ‘Meet The Team’ tab on the home page or by calling (317)218-3038.