I recently had a client tell me that she felt selfish planning things for her to do alone without involving her family. We discussed that often women become obligated to be caregivers for others around them which leaves their needs unmet or placed at lowest priority. This is true for men as well, as they are pressured to show up and fulfill multiple roles daily but are rarely given time to express feelings that keep their needs unmet. Many relationships find difficulty in defining what makes self-care a necessary part of our connections and what become selfishness, causing negativity or mistrust.
The difference between selfishness and self-care lies in the intention. When we are selfish, we do only for ourselves despite the cost it may incur on others around us. When we adapt a plan for self-care, we prioritize meeting our needs so we can mentally, physically, and emotionally be available to those we care about. Selfishness leads to disconnect and resentment which can lead to lack of support and stability. Self-care solidifies a positive relationship with yourself by producing feelings of value, esteem, and creating a stronger connection with others as you are more grounded in what you need and want.
The problem is that we often get too busy, too distracted, too overwhelmed with things that, not only hold us back from attending to what we need but also lead to a breakdown in motivation and connection. Practicing self-care benefits include increase in energy, immunity, and positive thinking. It creates a barrier to health issues and emotional stress, making it less likely we will suffer from anxiety and depression. When we become aware of our needs and meet them daily, we are present in our lives and no longer push ourselves to manage the stress for others.
So, what does this self-care stuff look like?
Many people define self-care as indulging in things that normally we may deprive ourselves of. This can include items such as massage, grooming, or esthetician services. Changes to diet and exercise can vastly improve self-care and increase motivation. Taking tasks on that are more daunting early in the day or week can increase motivation for smaller tasks and lead to less procrastination. Most of us miss out on a very big part of self-care: Boundaries. When we can say no to things that cause stress in our lives, we have more time to prioritize our needs. Developing a routine for proper sleep, reducing stress at work, and managing issues with digestion through healthy diet are all things that can increase self-care.
Looking for resources that can usually be found within your already established network. Talking with people close to you is an easy way to begin positive thought processes. Planning in-person interactions with others works to dissolve the disconnection felt through overuse of texting, social media, email, and other platforms. While means of convenient communication, they do not allow for tone, clarity, and often give false interpretation of intention. Social events, support groups, and seeking asking for help are all ways to begin self-care.
The best part of self-care is that it is easy to continue once started. The benefits of prioritizing your own needs start right away to boost self-esteem and work on. Seeking assistance through therapy can help develop a plan to increase motivation and identify areas that need to be changed. Asking for help and setting boundaries can be key to your overall wellbeing. These self-care practices will quickly increase your motivation, connection, and value to yourself and others.