Is self-care selfish or a whim?
What do you think of when I say "self-care"?
You can't be a gift that keeps on giving
No matter what you do- if you work, if you are a stay-at-home parent, if you are an engineer or artist, at some point, your enthusiasm, your drive and your "care for others" budget will dry out.
After I started my business, I was so enthusiastic and eager to learn that I "forgot" to take a break in 1.5 years. Honestly, I didn't even draw a line between work and free time because everything was fun, exciting and new, so everything got smooshed together and became one. Breaks were for the weak. Days off were for those who had the time for it- I was on a mission, against the clock, to become a great coach.
I guess that you can imagine what it was like when everything came crashing down. I was horribly tired! I couldn't read anymore, had creative constipation (excuse the expression!), my mood was swinging like a racking ball and what made things worse, I wasn't willing to stop working.
I saw this happening with parents, ambitious entrepreneurs and students. We all put ourselves in second place, and our studies, our business, our family, and our plans are in the first place, demanding all our energy and attention. We skip lunch. We give up a good night sleep. We deny ourselves alone time. We refuse to delegate... or we are afraid to ask for help. We feel responsible and carry the burden of high standards.
Is self-care a complicated deal?
It doesn't have to be... I am confident that I could understand each and every reason you can bring for not paying attention to yourself (most probably, I used it too). Lack of time? Lack of money? Lack of motivation? Too busy? Life being difficult? Big plans that need you right now?
Yeap! I've been there, used that rationale.
Now, hold on! I will not say that all are excuses, and you should go and have a bubble bath with rose petals and champagne. No. I say that those are excuses because self-care doesn't have to be complicated, and it doesn't have to be time-consuming (and time is something I am obsessed with).
This is what I suggest:
make a list of things you can do to relax; divide these into 3 categories: things you can do in 5 min, in 25 min and in 50 min. Brainstorm and try to come up with as many ideas a possible.
revise your relationship with achievement, responsibility for certain things and being a caregiver; refusing to take time off and disconnect, not wanting to relinquish control can be a sign of perfectionism, limiting beliefs and unhelpful assumptions.
schedule free time; as you save the date for a meeting with your boss, a team meeting, to take children to all kinds of activities, to meet clients, etc., precisely the same, you should feel about scheduling an appointment with... yourself.
look reality in your eyes: how do you feel? And for how long (months, years) can you keep us this level of energy before you can barely do the minimum necessary.
Self-care is not selfish. It doesn't mean you waste time, ignoring others or giving up on your ambition.
Self-care means "I, too, need a moment for myself, in order to have many more moments for others and all the things that matter."
Being well, mentally and physically, is the biggest asset you have. It's the very reason why you can pursue your goals, learn and care for others. But this well-being is not a given. You do not have it forever, and it is not something you can neglect.
If you do not take care of yourself... who will?