As our society continues to evolve, we continue to get busier. The idea of self-care and powerful self-care tips once never existed but is now all too important. Yet, the number one objection I hear about taking time for yourself is that it’s selfish. Many individuals feel extreme guilt for taking time to simply rest their weary minds or do something they enjoy. They feel the need to always appease spouses, children, or bosses. Women especially experience this as they are often the primary caretakers, homemakers, and family organizers, not to mention possibly trying to have a career. It’s enough to tip anyone over the edge and it has, can, and will continue to do so if we don’t begin to normalize and prioritize self-care.
I’m not suggesting that this is an easy thing to do. Feeling guilty is an emotion that is deeply embedded. You can’t just shake it off. In fact, it’s a feeling you are conditioned to feel early on in life. As children, we’re often reprimanded if we show signs of disregarding or overlooking others. Every parent wants the best life for their child and that includes being able to socialize appropriately with people in all stages of life (whatever “appropriately” means). So as children, we have to be taught these things. But as adults, we know that we can take time for ourselves and still be a good and loving person. (In fact more of a good and loving person, which I’ll get to in a sec.) We know that people do not always need our care and attention. But when the time comes to replenish your fuel tank, you hear that distant voice reprimanding you to attend to others, and you dismiss your self-care to expend your last little bit of energy on someone else.
When we do this frequently, our body goes into a state of stress. Now we can work in a stress state for some given amount of time, but eventually you’ll putter out—just like a car that’s low on gas—it putters until it stalls. In an article written by the Mayo Clinic, they explain that stress can have an effect on your body, your mood, and your behavior. Some common symptoms include anxiety, over or under eating, sleep disruption, lack of motivation, or irritability. You see, when you’re always giving to others, eventually they no longer get the best version of you. You show up tense or fog brained and it feels all but impossible to curl the corners of your mouth into a smile. But it’s rare that your loved ones will notice, because their needs are getting met. But you know. You know that you’re running on fumes and if your husband doesn’t help with the dishes, or the dog gets under your feet, or the kids don’t obligingly do their homework, you’re going to lose it.
But that’s not what you really want. Yet it happens more often than you’d like.
But what if there was a better way?
I’d like to propose a reframing of your mind so that you make self-care a priority, which in turn makes your family, job, or kids the priority. They get the best version of you. Consider that self-care is a selfless act, because it allows you to show up with a full tank for the things that are most important to you. I want you to imagine that for a moment. When you are replenished, the amount of arguments you have go down, you have more patience, your eyes and face are brighter, you can think more clearly, and you would enjoy more moments with the ones you love. Now how does that sound?! Amazing.
So here’s how I suggest to go about it.
Guidance On Not Feeling Guilty About Self-Care
- Change your mindset. Self care is selfless. You take care of yourself because you care deeply for the ones you love. You want them to have the best.
- Decide what your self care practice is. We, as well as many health professionals, recommend meditation, breathing, or a regular yoga practice. But of course we would recommend that, we’re a yoga studio. But other ideas are calmly being in nature, a ritualistic bath, or getting into the flow of creation without distraction (i.e. think cooking, playing music, etc). Here’s more.
- Set aside the time. Schedule it and even put it on the family calendar. No one can interrupt you at this time unless the house is on fire. Aim to do something every day, even for five minutes.
- Make it a habit. Some days you’ll feel like you may not need to replenish the tank. Do it anyway. Doing something over and over makes it a habit. When you break a habit, it sometimes never comes back. So for the sake of long term benefits, make your self care a habit.
Some day your self care practice will be out of deep appreciation for yourself. You’ll do it because you deeply value yourself as much as the ones you love. Until that day comes, keep up the good habits and focus on what’s most important to you and why you want to take care of yourself.
PS – many of you may have some great self-care tactics already. Be sure to share them below to help other readers refine their self-care techniques.
Justina and Ignite Yoga