Is Self-Care Selfish?

Vinitha Pastor's picture

We have all heard the term “self-care,” and we all know what it means.  Eat right. Get enough sleep. Get exercise. Take care of yourself when you get sick. All those things we know we “should” do and yet we somehow still don’t “have the time” to do them.  Many people believe that if they take time away from their responsibilities to focus on themselves, they are selfish. Is it?

In my personal and professional life, I spend a lot of time, probably upwards of 85-90%, focusing on the needs of others. And I love it that way. I get so much fulfillment and joy from watching my clients tackle their demons and improve their lives. At home, I love taking care of two little boys and three large cats, all of whom need love and care. And a lot of food. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for me. I calculated once that in one week, I have about 4 hours total of time that is spent on me. Those four hours, which are broken up into 5-15 minute increments, are usually spent showering and eating, and on other activities of daily living.

So how do I manage self-care?  I think small. I would love to do something in the category of self-care every day. I am also realistic and know that there are days that that might not happen. And that’s okay. So every few days, I try to do something that is just for me. This can be something bigger, like getting my nails done or going shopping alone. It can also be something a little smaller, like watching an episode of a show on my DVR that has been there since January. Either way, the goal is to do something for myself.  To remind myself that my needs matter just as much as those of others.

So is the notion of self-care selfish? Here’s my answer. Yeah, I think it is. And here’s why. I tend to think of the word “selfish” on a continuum.  I don’t think being selfish has to mean being Veruca from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” It doesn’t have to be extreme. Selfish to me is more taking care of your needs when they need to be taken care of.  And as cliché as it may sound, we really can’t help others if we aren’t helping ourselves. Being somewhere in the middle of that selfish continuum is okay.

So it’s okay to be selfish sometimes. It’s not just about doing the everyday things that care for your hygiene, although those things are definitely important too. Find the things that matter to you and do them. Start small. Go home early and lay on the couch for an hour. The dishes and laundry can wait. Disconnect your phone and rest. Take some time.  For all you do for others, you deserve it.  

For another perspective check out this article from Huffinton Post!