What is really up with self-care?

I work in health care. Those of us in health care, we are givers. It is ingrained in us to care for others, and in literal terms, it often means someone might die if we put ourselves first.

So where do we draw the line? And why do we let this innate sense of devotion to care for others take us to a place of such poor health in ourselves? We’ve all heard how we should take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others better, yet our response is “I’m too busy,” or “it doesn’t matter what I want or need, my child will always come first.” Often we feel as if it is selfish. Even the coined term “self-care” seems “self”ish.

I could make a list here about why self-care is important, but we’ve heard it before. So let’s just sum that up real quick. If you burn out, how can you have the energy to take care of someone else? Or will you even be good at it? Think about caring for your child, will you be grumpy, impatient, and unfair to your child because you are tired, because you didn’t get enough sleep and ate like crap? How about at work? How efficient can you be and how many mistakes will you make for the same reasons?

I think you get the point. I think we all deep-down recognize the importance of taking care of ourselves. But I want you to take just a moment to explore a little deeper why you MUST start to take care of yourself. Bear with me, we will be quick.

Take a moment to think of where you are right now in life. Think about your connection with your body. Think about what it is telling you. What are you feeling? Is that dull headache lingering, ready to pounce to a full-fledged migraine any moment? Maybe it already has. Is your body heavy with fatigue, all you really want to do is curl up in bed, or maybe on the couch for a long binge of your favorite show, but you have to get a load of laundry done because everyone is out of clean underwear? Are your joints so stiff and sore that climbing even one flight of stairs will set you off for the whole weekend? Or maybe it is your back and the pain will radiate down your legs and feel as if someone is stabbing you in the ass with an ice pick. You get the idea. I want you to have a quick bitch fest. What is your body telling you that you are just OVER?

Now, I want you to think about how your body will feel in 5 years, if you keep going the way you are. Where will you be in 10 years? Will you be able to work the way you do now? Do you feel confident that you will be able to hold your grandchild? That you can even pick up that basket of laundry.?Will you be able to sit in an auditorium for 2 hours to watch your child’s graduation ceremony?

Now I want you to take just one more minute to connect how you are feeling to how you are treating your body. I want you to think about how well you will be able to take care of others when your body is failing you more than it already is.

Aren’t we all waiting for the weekend to do what WE want to do? Aren’t we waiting for retirement so EVERYday is the weekend? How much are we going to enjoy retirement and our family, if we are in pain and feel sick all of the time?

I want you to recognize that if you DO NOT act, things WILL NOT get better. In fact, in all likely hood, they will get worse. Much worse. Is that how you want to spend the next 10 years, getting worse? Because I don’t believe you do. THAT is the importance of self-care. It truly does take more time and energy to be unhealthy than it does to be well.

“Be there for others, but never leave yourself behind.” ~Dodinsky

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