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Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish: Improve your understanding

When a client is describing a current stressful situation I often ask, “How are you taking care of yourself?” only to be met with a blank stare, or at best, a bewildered look. The most common response when I explain the importance of making self-care a priority has been “that seems selfish.” Selfish is when you pursue your needs and wants without regard for the needs of others on a regular and consistent basis.

By now you’ve probably heard the analogy of being on an airplane and “in case of loss of cabin pressure, secure your own mask before assisting others.” It makes sense that we cannot give our best to those we love & care for if we are not taking care of ourselves first. But just because it makes sense it isn’t easily executed, right? Even people who are pretty good with self-care watch it collapse under stress. Sometimes other people in our lives don’t like it and push back when we start to say no or “Not right now.”

So what does your self-care look like?

Genuine self-care includes the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives. We “get” the concepts of physical care because we talk about them all the time –nutrition, exercise, quality sleep and healthy lifestyle choices. We take care of ourselves emotionally by cultivating and utilizing a (healthy) support system. Setting and maintaining personal boundaries helps us stay sane. Identifying and asking for what you want or need is critical. Spiritual self-care refers to activities that make your heart sing, attending to your relationship with God / your Higher Power and taking action in the world in ways that feel meaningful and purposeful.

Challenge: Which area of self-care (physical, emotional or spiritual) is calling to you? What’s one step you can take this week to improve in that area? How will you make it happen?

Check out one of my favorites on the topic: The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson. She has wonderful suggestions on ways to create your own Extreme Self-Care First-Aid Kit.

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