Self-Care Is Not Selfish

You’re run down, you’re tired. You have a million things going on and it feels like time is working against you.

Maybe you’re feeling drained mentally, emotionally, and as a consequence, physically. But calling out of work to take care of your mental health seems to carry a stigma – selfish. Tending to your mental health is just as important as physical health. So why does taking care of your mental health seem more unreasonable than taking care of your physical health?

Recently, the term “self-care” has made its way into popular vocabulary. But it’s hard to give a definition to self-care because it can mean different things to different people. The term self-care generally includes activities or lifestyle changes that help alleviate stress to maintain positive feelings towards oneself and their life. Although self-care strategies differ between individuals, the term can be thought of as a handful of characteristics of what it is and what it is not.


Self-care is…

  • Taking responsibility for your well-being. You know yourself best, so when you start to feel yourself needing to step back and take a breath, you’re able to do just that.


  • Setting healthy goals. Taking care of your mental health includes creating goals that are do-able and contribute to a positive outlook on life. Eventually, these goals will become a healthy routine that you won’t have to devise ways to recover from.


  • Being realistic and honest. There is only so much time in the day and you can’t keep eating power bars for every meal because you’re rushing from meetings to carpools to the gym. Understanding your own needs and how much time you’re willing to carve out for yourself will help relieve that run-down feeling.


  • Self-love. It is important to reflect upon yourself with compassion and remember that in addition to your high self-expectations, you must also be kind to yourself.


  • Personal growth. Self-care is not only sustaining a balanced life, but also changing and learning for the sake of betterment. This is not to say someone must change or learn something new to partake in self-care, but maybe taking the time to learn a new skill or become a habitual afternoon-walker could create positive changes in one’s life.


Self-care is NOT…

  • Being receptive to your needs without the influence of a reward. The activity itself is rooted in positive motivation, rather than a motivation for social gains. It is not self-centered to take care of your own health.


  • Self-indulgent. Changing part of one’s daily routine is not always what one wants, but it might be what they need for a healthier lifestyle. Deciding to work on personal fitness for health’s sake might be grueling and definitely not what one might call “indulgent.”


  • Just a benefit for you. By taking care of your own feelings and being self-aware of your choices, you’re allowing yourself to live your daily life the best you can. When you tend to your own feelings you’re able to interact and relate to others with compassion and understanding as well.


Despite the connotations “self-care” carries, people who utilize it when necessary should be met with compassion, like any other person with a sickness would. Although the bubble bath-taking self-care strategies may seem lavish, everybody has their own approaches to combatting everyday stressors. We should encourage people to take care of their mental health and applaud those who are self-aware enough to do so when they need it.

-Brianna Cochran


Photo Credit: wuestenigel Meditieren / Meditation via photopin (license)

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