Why Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

(And 50 Budget-friendly Ways to Be Good to Yourself) 

Yeah, I know. You don’t have time. You’ve got too many responsibilities, too many people relying on you.

You’re wrong. You do have time to take care of yourself and you can’t afford not to.  You always have time for what’s important. So, if you’re not making time to care for yourself, what does that tell you?

It might be telling you that you’re making other people, other things, more important.

It might be telling you that you’re relying on others to take care of you, instead of being responsible for yourself. It might be telling you that you think self-care is selfish.

Do you?

Being a woman often means being a caretaker and nurturer. That means a lot of selfless giving.

But when you give and give of yourself—endlessly—something happens over time.

You get tired!

Self-care is preventive medicine—for your heart, mind and body

Women juggle many roles and responsibilities these days—careers, marriage, motherhood, overseeing the home, responsibilities for elderly parents. It can be both rewarding and exhausting. Over time it drains you of energy—mentally, emotionally and physically. It becomes necessary, then, to replenish yourself. After all, if you’re not healthy then how can you give your best to others? How can you model healthy behaviors?

Taking care of yourself is not a job for others and it can’t be something you fit into the crevices of your day. If that’s what you’re doing, then what’s already begun to happen? Are you feeling burned out? Exhausted? Overwhelmed? Irritable? Discouraged? Numb? Are you just living on autopilot, getting through the busyness of the day, your wheels spinning but not gaining much traction?

That’s what happens. Your brain, body, sense of self and family take a dive when you don’t take time to attend to your health. That’s why self-care is not selfish; it’s selfless. It’s selfless because your loved ones need you to take care of yourself.

Self-care is an intentional and powerful choice to be your healthiest—spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically —for your sake and others

Just think about all the benefits when you do practice self-care:

  • Increased energy
  • Improved decision-making
  • Healthier boundaries
  • Improved immunity to diseases  (because it activates the parasympathetic nervous system which puts the body into rest and restore mode)
  • Increased compassion towards others (when we are patient with our own flaws and inadequacies we view others’ differently)
  • Increased productivity (when you slow down, you can reflect, re-center on God and re-prioritize)
  • Increased intentionality (you are able to get clarity about who you are, what your purpose is)

You aren’t really healthy unless you’re healthy all over

In previous blogs I’ve talked about the pyramid of relationships. The same can be said for your health. The most important aspect of your overall well-being is your spiritual health. That’s because being spiritually healthy means putting your relationship with God at the top of your priorities. When God is first, everything else in your life improves.  So, part of your self-care is taking time out to be with God, and reflecting on the deeper, weightier matters of life, like:

  • Do you have purpose for living?
  • Are the choices you make each day moving you towards that purpose?
  • Do you believe in God and have a close, intimate friendship with Him?
  • Do you spend time with encouraging, inspiring people who believe as you do, and who remind you of your purpose in life?

Your mental health has to do with what you think, how you perceive the world around you, the meaning you attach to situations and your attitude in general. If your primary focus is negative, towards yourself and/or others, then it can be said that your mental health is poor, which makes you susceptible to emotionally-based illnesses and other diseases. Your mental health is, of course, affected by your spiritual health. If you don’t have any hope for a future beyond this life—if you have no purpose or meaning for your existence—then what’s the point?

Being mentally healthy also means keeping your mind sharp and active. Consider the following:

  • Do you engage in activities that keep your brain sharp and active?
  • Do you manage your thoughts so that they reflect and support positive, encouraging outcomes?
  • Do you deal with negative situations and people and then move on, without letting them hold you down?
  • Are you careful to protect your mind from dangerous or damaging information, situations or material?

Your emotional health is closely connected to your mental health because you feel based on how you think. Negative thoughts breed negative emotions. Positive thoughts breed positive emotions. Sounds simple perhaps, and in theory it is. But the reality of managing your thoughts so that you can control your feelings is a difficult, ongoing process. Sometimes we can get stuck in deep ruts of our own making because we only see a situation from one perspective. Talking out our situation with someone else—a friend, a relative, a minister, a therapist or coach—might be necessary for climbing out of that hole we’ve dug ourselves into. Consider these questions as you evaluate just how emotionally healthy you are:

  • Do you keep your emotions in control, instead of letting them control you?
  • Do you use your emotions as a guide to address areas of your life that need work?
  • Are you able to identify root causes of damaging emotions, such as anger, resentment and bitterness, and deal with them decisively?
  • Are you careful to nurture emotions that support your desire for a satisfying, purposeful life?

Finally, let’s take a look at your physical health. Being physically healthy is about both your body and your environment. It’s about respecting yourself, and those around you, to engage in safe practices, keep your home and surroundings free of clutter and create a space that is conducive for overall well-being.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you engage in activities that keep your body active and healthy 3-5x every week?
  • Do you balance work with recreation, so that your mind and body have time to rest?
  • Do you get enough quality sleep?
  • Is your home a place that feels safe and relaxing? Is it clean and clutter free?
  • Have you cultivated a network of supportive, loving relationships with others?
  • Do you have a healthy, balanced approach to money and use it as a tool, rather than a way to fill a void in your life?

Self-care isn’t self-indulgence

Self-care isn’t always easy or fun. Doing the right things for yourself requires diligence and perseverance. You do those things because you have a big picture perspective. Self-indulgence, on the other hand, is about feeling good in the moment. It may be easier, but it can unbalance you quickly.

Finally, remember, self-care doesn’t have to take up huge blocks of time, nor does it have to be expensive. Check out my free downloadable worksheet to discover 50 budget-free ways to take better care of yourself.



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