I grew up thinking that doing things for myself was selfish. That I should think of others first. It’s better to give than to receive. I get where this is coming from…if we are dealing with a group of people who are completely self-absorbed and only self-serving then this is very good advice. Doing good for others, assisting others for the betterment of the group; these are admirable traits. What I have seen in my own life and in the lives of many of my friends, colleagues and clients, is that this is taken to mean that taking care of self is not important, and in fact, detrimental to our well-being. Self-sacrifice wins the day as our bodies (and minds) slowly fall apart from lack of TLC. What is ironic is that these same people would give the advice to others, “You should take better care of yourself. Go do something special just for you.” Ironic, no?
I have (finally) learned that Self Care isn’t a luxury. It isn’t something we do when we have nothing else to do. (Because that NEVER happens.) It is something to be planned FIRST. This is incredibly hard when time and money are at a premium. Be creative! There are many ways of taking care of yourself. Obviously I LOVE massage and feel that regular bodywork is ESSENTIAL in maintaining proper functioning, AND…what about taking a walk in the woods? A hot bath, reading a good book, having a cup of tea by the fire in sweet silence, crafting, quilting, talking with a friend, taking a nap, visiting someone who helps you feel better, gardening, etc. It isn’t what you do that makes the difference…it’s how you FEEL about it. Do you feel energized? Does it put a smile on your face? Does it help your body feel more relaxed. This isn’t just for emotional well-being either. Stress is a killer and we need to actively address it.
I love the wisdom of the heart…the first artery to come off the aorta is the one that feeds the heart. It takes care of itself FIRST. Put your oxygen mask on before trying to help others put on theirs and you will be amazed at how much more productive and effective you are in your obligations and other relationships. Self Care is not Selfish…it is essential.