More than ever, people are realizing that without self-care, our life loses meaning and direction, and we make very little impact on what we do. When we say that we cannot give what we do not have, we mean that it is only from a place of strength that we can give strength, a place of love that we can give love, and a place for self-forgiveness that we can forgive others.
We have heard it said every so often – self-care is selfish. This is a myth that needs debunking. Some of us have put self-care at the bottom of our “to do” list, and therefore we never get down to do it. People often confuse self-care with self-indulgence, which are two completely different concepts.
We all keep talking about how important it is to take care of ourselves, as individuals, as communities, as workmates, as parents, the list is endless. But how often do we stop to consciously plan for it? How much importance do we give it? Or is it only lip service?
I keep challenging myself over and over again about taking care of myself. It needs to be a conscious commitment that is featured in our day-to-day life.
Here are some reasons why self-care is difficult to practice:
- Negativity bias – we tend to dwell more on the negative – what is unachievable, the efforts needed, lack of resources etc. Many of us have learned to see the glass half empty and we see challenges in possibilities as opposed to seeing possibilities in challenges. Our thoughts play a major role in the decisions we make
- Irrational beliefs – we may have been blamed in the past when we took care of ourselves or taught to put other people before us – hence self-sacrifice has replaced self-care. When I was growing up, I was often told that I should consider other people’s needs before mine, and I could see this in my own mother. She used to always be available to everyone, and hardly said no to anyone. Religion can also make people frown upon self-care. We need to challenge our beliefs and if anything is interfering negatively with the quality of our life, then it needs to be challenged
- Negative self-worth – some people have trouble accepting themselves as they are, and they have a deep emptiness which makes them do things to please others – at the expense of their own well-being. People pleasing is a dangerous path, it often leads to resentments because people will not always be satisfied with what we do to and for them
- Effort – self-care requires effort. It can be very daunting, and it requires as much attention as other areas in our life. Self-care is often the first to be put aside when we are in a difficult situation. We claim to be too busy to find time for ourselves or for those we love
- Messianic syndrome – some of us have undertaken the responsibility to save the world. This is a very risky syndrome, as it can give rise to other social challenges. People suffering from the messianic syndrome are everything for everyone, and they end up resenting those who do not need their services. They have developed the need to be needed, and when not needed, they collapse
- Sense of shame and guilt – some people doubt their self-worth, and so do everything to make themselves feel better. Shame generates an experience of “being” wrong, and humans do everything to counteract the sense of shame. On the other hand, guilt can also prevent us from taking care of ourselves, as we strive to make up for what we believe we have done wrong.
These and many other reasons could explain why we find it so difficult to take care of ourselves. We forget that we are temples of the Holy Spirit – we are spiritual beings having a human experience – and we need to treasure this.
What are the benefits of Self-Care?
- It increases the sense of self-worth – taking care of ourselves makes us appreciate who we really are
- It reduces stress – try taking a walk in nature when you are feeling stressed and see what an impact it makes on you
- It makes us more productive – when we put everything into perspective, and give self-care its place, our returns are magnified
- It leads us to understanding and supporting others – you cannot give what you do not have
- It helps us to fulfil our own raison d’etre – each one of us has come to fulfil a purpose, and when we listen to ourselves, the writing on the wall becomes clearer
- It increases motivation – self-care calls for self-reflection, where one discovers who they are, and how they can improve. Once this happens, one’s motivation is enhanced
- It mitigates chronic fatigue – this is so common in the workplace. When we take care of ourselves, we are able to read the early warning signs and prevent fatigue
- Boosts our physical and mental well-being – self-care enhances the feel good hormones
- It creates a good work-life balance – this means we prioritize on everything and give it the importance it deserves
- Improves inter-personal relationships – when I take care of myself, I allow others to do the same and our light shines together
- Self-care hacks your brain to increase creativity – this is related to the point regarding productivity
- Self-care helps to increase our sense of worth.
These are some of the benefits of self-care, which by far outweigh the efforts. We therefore need to appreciate who we are and work towards creating an environment where we can flourish and live with meaning. Make a self-care realistic plan and if it requires for you to say no, you owe it to yourself to have this courage.
Any comments are welcome.