Why Self-care isn’t Selfish

I have had the pleasure of being married to an amazing woman for over six years now. She is a terrific wife, a constant support and a wonderful mom to our three children. But in our last pregnancy, she began to be a lot more sick. She typically suffered from some nausea with pregnancy, but it had never been this bad. It was difficult as a husband to try and offer support and I didn’t know what to do.

We brought the situation up to our midwife, and she suggested that my wife was possibly not eating enough and to start eating smaller meals every hour. My wife was initially discouraged with such a simplistic answer, but she took the advice and before we knew it the nausea was virtually gone!  The midwife explained to us that my wife was getting enough nutrients for baby, but not enough for herself. While my child was healthy and growing, she was literally feeding off of the life of my wife.

Whether you happen to be a parent or not at all, my guess is we can all somewhat relate to my wife’s situation. We often find ourselves in the position of giving ourselves away, whether it be to our work, or kids, our significant relationships, and find very little time to take care of our own needs.

This running on empty feeling is true whether you are a parent or not. Far too many of us have the gas light blinking on the dashboards of our lives, but don’t take the time to refill and renew ourselves. So what do we do? I want to offer three suggestions that will help you to change your mind on self-care.

  1. Ditch the guilt – A lot people don’t do a great job managing themselves and having proper self care because they feel guilty if they do. They look at all that needs to get done and push the time they need to refresh to the back burner because it’s just easier than trying to process through the gross feeling of guilt. Think about all the people you love and serve and give yourself away to. Don’t think of self care as taking away from them, rather think of it as an investment that brings your best self to them.
  2. Think long term health, not short term high – I’ll admit it; I love Doritos and binge watching Netflix as much as the next person,…perhaps more at times. And while things like that are fun at times, they aren’t exactly filling. Self care is about just that; taking care of yourself. So as you think of things that you can do that aren’t just fun but fulfilling, keep a few things in mind. Remember that you are a whole person – body, mind and spirit. Engage in the kinds of practices that are going to refill and replenish all of you. Maybe that looks like going for a walk and listening to a great podcast. Maybe it means taking an exercise class with a good friend, maybe it means inviting those friends you haven’t seen in a long time for a great meal. Whatever it looks like, think long term health and not just a short term high.
  3. Prioritize – All of us are busy. Life gets full. We’ve all heard the saying, “fail to plan, plan to fail”. And while that can be a little harsh at times, there is a lot of truth to it. I can’t remember everything I’m suppose to do in a given day or week, so thank God for planners and schedules. If we need these tools to help us with all the “to-do’s” in our lives, why not just plan our self care right in there? As a massage therapist, I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve had clients tell me, “Oh yeah! I meant to book in a long time ago, but now I’m really messed up! Can you get me in?” I’ve got an amazing idea for you that might change your life; are you ready for it?

          Book in ahead of time 🙂 It’s that simple.

Maybe that doesn’t seem that life changing, but if you begin prioritizing the things that  you need to take care of yourself, getting rid of the guilt and engaging in healthful activities that  are going to refill and replenish you, I believe those small actions do have the power to help change your life.

To your health,
Wesley Hodgson, RMT