Patricia García Castillo
Is Self-Care Selfish?
Self-care is often seen as lazy, anti-social and selfish, is this really true? Let’s analyse it for a moment. There are not many positive things that the pandemic has brought in the last couple of years. However, here is something I have learned from being in a lockdown for over a year (on and off). When I don’t take care of myself, I have a short fuse. Let me explain. You wake up from bed, wash your face, have breakfast and a coffee and start to work from home. For the next eight hours you are sitting on a chair, in a problem-solving mode. Your brain is working hard to get the tasks done and meet deadlines “nicely”. Nicely, because if you are a bit like me, you procrastinate a little (a lot) and then panic trying to get the work done on the delivery day, and this is not a fantastic feeling. So there you are, pushing yourself so you can sit on the sofa at night and think: What a productive day I had! To achieve this throughout the day, your body takes sips from your “energy cup”, let’s call it. Sip by sip the energy in your cup gets lower until it’s completely empty. And what happens when the cup is empty?
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The empty energy cup translates into a short fuse. The short fuse can now go into different directions: frustration, lack of inspiration, being angry with the world because today it’s raining, blaming your partner because he ate the last banana, shouting at your dog because he hasn’t learned how to use the toilet yet, crying because… because. The list goes on. Either way, there is an E X P L O S I O N . For me, self-care is that thing you do to keep your energy cup filled. It might not be full everyday, but it ensures that there is enough to have a good day and avoid the explosion of overwhelm.
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So what exactly is self-care? Self-Care: – The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. – The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. Is this… …Lazy? This practise has many forms for different people; doing exercise or yoga, meditating, writing a journal, having a bath, cooking a healthy meal, etc. I’m sure you already have that thing that saves you from the short fuse. Whatever this is, we can agree that it requires that you make time for it, isn’t it right? Self-care doesn’t happen for itself, you need to take an active role in it, as we can read in the definition. Not so easy sometimes. When you cook a healthy meal, you invest time buying ingredients, checking recipes and, of course, cooking. When you go for a run or do a workout at home, there is the effort invested in convincing yourself you will do it, changing your clothes, and not giving up half way through the action. Is self-care lazy then? I don’t think so. …Anti-social? It is true that sometimes self-care involves being on your own, for example when you take a bath, meditate or write. But our body needs it. Socialising also requires energy and for this, our mind has to be plugged in and charged for a few hours per day. I can assure you that I am not the best company when my fuse is short and my cup is empty, neither are you. I consider myself more anti-social when I am in a bad mood around people, because I don’t have the energy to talk to anyone in that state. In addition to this, you can also do self-care when doing a yoga class with a friend, watch a movie with your partner, etc. Is self-care anti-social? Not really. …Selfish? I had a look at the definition of this word: Selfish: (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. I realised that when my cup is empty, I am a bit less me. I try to remind myself the following every now and then; I am the only person who is responsible for my own well-being. My family and my friends deserve a Patri who is above 60-70%. I am a better daughter, sister and friend when I take care of myself. My energy turns into patience, comprehension, sense of humour, great work, productivity, empathy with others and good vibes. I enjoy myself more when I invest time on me, and so does everyone else who is around, so is self-care selfish? I guess you can answer this. Taking care of yourself means you are trying to be a better you, and most of the time, this is a hard task. Yes, you do it for your own benefit because it feels good and you would like to stay sane for the most part of your week. But this is also for others, so we have one lunatic less shouting in traffic jams and one more friendly person smiling to strangers in the streets.
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Next time someone critisises another for taking time for themselves, please feel free to explain to them why this is wrong and share this article. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe. 🤟