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Self-Care isn’t Selfish

Written by: Kate Smith, M.A.
Self-Care isn’t Selfish

As we reach the year anniversary of a time filled with confusion, fear, anger, and loss, we are all wondering how much longer we can handle what 2020 brought us. When can we safely gather with friends and family we’ve been unable to hug for 12 months? When can we safely go to gatherings, concerts, amusement parks, or beaches? When can we stop wearing masks? While the answers are still unknown, we need to focus more than ever on keeping our mental health a top priority. Why not use this time when we are separated from one another, to focus on ourselves?

What is self-care? The World Health Organization 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, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental factors, socio-economic factors, and self-medication”.  So…what is self-care? First and foremost, it is making yourself a priority. Remember the good old days of flying in airplanes? Remember what the flight attendant would tell you at the beginning of each flight? “In the event of an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask before assisting the person next to you with their mask.” In essence, you must help yourself before you can help others. Take off that superhero parent cape, the executive suit, or any other amazing hat you wear when giving to others. This is about you.

  1. Get active- Take a walk with your favorite music, meditate, do yoga. Dance to your favorite song while sweeping the floor or putting away laundry.
  2. Improve your environment- Do some gardening, repaint your bedroom. Make your bed!
  3. Love yourself- You may need to have a difficult conversation with a co-worker who is not respecting boundaries; standing up for yourself is self-care!
  4. Get good sleep- this is how we re-charge. Don’t expect to be your best on 4 hours of sleep.
  5. Connections- Schedule a time to talk to a friend or family member. Maintaining important connections feeds our soul.
  6. Eat well- be mindful of what you are eating and be sure it is healthy fuel. Sit down to enjoy your meal instead of eating in the car or while you work.

Each good habit not only feels good in the moment, it creates an environment that is welcoming to other good habits. This leads to a clearer mind, more mental and physical energy, which makes putting those superhero capes back on a little easier. The point is, self-care does not have to be a week at a luxury spa or a European vacation. It is a few minutes of ‘me time’ spent any way that feels good to you every day. You deserve it!

Be healthy, laugh often, breathe deeply.