Self Care is Not Selfish

Updated on September 19, 2019
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Jules Ker has worked as a behavioral health therapist for 12 years. She treats children, adults, and couples.

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What is Self Care?

Self care is a term that encompasses the broad range of behaviors used to take care of your physical and mental health. Most people tend to forget about taking care of themselves, especially if they have children or a spouse. Proper self care not only helps you but it also helps your relationships with others.

Examples of Self Care

Self care can be just about any activity as long as it's a healthy activity. Some activities that may not count as self care include: excessive use of drugs or alcohol, excessive sex, excessive spending, as these all have the potential to cause more harm than good.

Here are several activities that can be used as part of self care:

  • taking a bubble bath
  • painting your nails
  • reading a book
  • dancing to music you enjoy
  • exercising, at home or at the gym
  • gardening
  • yoga/meditation
  • painting/pottery/other forms of art
  • journaling
  • spending time with friends
  • seeing a therapist
  • taking a class to learn something new

Other examples of self care include proper hygiene, sleep, and eating habits. These sound like basic activities we should already be engaging in but sometimes they get easily overlooked. Be sure to shower/bathe on a routine basis. Purchase new clothes for yourself as needed. Establish a consistent bedtime that allows you to get plenty of rest. Eat three meals a day. Do your best to make healthy food choices throughout the day. Manage your weight and any medical conditions, such as diabetes.

Self care also means being able to say "no" to things, whether it be taking on an extra project at work, helping a friend move, giving your children a ride to their friends, etc. Saying "no" is a great from of self care because it helps ensure you are not taking on more than you can handle, which would add to stress levels instead of reducing them. If saying "no" is hard for you, start by saying no to small requests first, such as your 10 year olds request to get a bowl of cereal for them, and work up to the larger things, like not driving the school carpool three times a week.

Where do I start?

Now that you have some ideas on what constitutes self care, you might be wondering how to implement self care. The good news is that putting a self care plan into practice is relatively easy, once you have committed to doing so.

After you have picked out what activities to engage in as part of self care, you need to decide when to do those activities and for how much time. You can choose to read 10 minutes each night before you go to bed or to take a 30 minute bubble bath once a week. You might even do several activities - read each day and take a bubble bath once a week. Choose activities and chunks of time that work best for you. This may be hard since many of us are busy with work, spouses, children, etc. However, it is important you make self care a priority. Ideally, you should engage in some sort of self care each day. Keep in mind, it might take a bit you figure out a schedule that allows you to engage in self care on a consistent basis.

Benefits of Self Care

Understanding what you can gain from self care provides a reason to keep engaging in self care. There are several benefits to self care, including:

  • Better physical health. The less stressed out you are the more capable your body is of fighting off viruses that may lead to colds and other illnesses.
  • Better relationships with others. Taking care of yourself can reduce irritability, meaning you will likely have more positive interactions with those around you. Plus, taking care of you means you will have the energy and motivation to take care of others more effectively, which will also help shape the relationship you have with them.
  • Improved attitude about life. Engaging in activities interesting to you will make you happier. This happiness may then translate into more positive feelings about yourself and about other life areas, such as work, being a parent, etc., as well.
  • Increased productivity. Part of self care is saying "no" to some of the many requests made on your time. This actually allows you to focus your time and energy on those tasks that are truly important. Being able to concentrate more on what's important means you can get your work done more efficiently, thus saving you time in the long run. The extra time can be used to tackle a new project or to engage in more self care.

Summary

In conclusion, there are several benefits to self care and engaging in self care does not make you a selfish person. Make self care a priority. Pick several tasks to engage in as part of self care. Then, start doing those activities on a daily basis, if possible. The end result will be a happier, healthier life in many areas.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      3 weeks ago

      Informative article full of great advice and tips. I think it's particularly important for people who care for others to always try and make time for themselves, even if it's just going for a walk to clear your mind. Thank you for sharing.

    • Lisabean2202 profile image

      Lisa Bean 

      3 weeks ago from Nevada

      Great tips and advice here! As a parent, it's hard to put ourselves our our needs first when we're inclined to take care of kids first.

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