Yvette E. McDonald, LCSW-QS
Why Taking YOU-Time is Not Selfish
Clients often tell me how they don’t have time for self-care, especially during these times when the whole nation is experiencing a pandemic that is threatening their sense of self, comfort and routine leaving them with a feeling that they have lost their footing. They report how they feel that taking time for self-care is selfish. They feel like they need to be spending that time on doing things for their children, their career, or their spouse. But, the truth is—self-love and selfish are two very different things.
In fact, self-love is essential. It is crucial to you being the best version of you. If you are always feeling run-down and exhausted from taking care of others, you aren’t going to be the best caregiver, employee, spouse, parent or human.
Self-love is necessary for your happiness, your ability to thrive, and your confidence. It is taking the time to fit in:
self compassion exercises
taking care of your own mental health
eating healthy meals,
an hour away from your kids to take a walk,
time to read a book or listen to a podcast
get some sleep,
limit mindless scrolling online
trying a new receipe
starting a fun project
journaling your feelings
It is what is needed to maintain you. What happens if you never do an oil change on your car? Or ignore that leaky faucet in your bathroom? Ultimate failure is what happens. Busted engines and broken pipes. The same is true for you.
Instead of thinking of YOU-time as selfish, think of it as a personal tune-up.
Being selfish is operating with a complete lack of consideration for others. It is ignoring how your actions impact those around you. It is acting with complete disregard for the health, safety, and happiness of others. It is so very different from self-care.
Practicing self-care can, in fact, be looked at as quite the opposite of selfish. Since you can’t fully take care of others until you properly care for yourself, self-care is being considerate to the others in your life. It's extremely important!
It is not selfish to have your spouse take the kids outside to play so you can squeeze in a run. It is not selfish to have frozen pizza because you are too exhausted to cook. It is not selfish to miss skip out on a virtual hangout so you can go to bed early. Whatever it is that makes you feel whole again, don’t feel guilty. Find the time to take care of yourself so that you can be the best version of you.
Someone once told me, “An empty tank will take you nowhere. Take the time to refuel.” Today, and every day, I encourage you to take that time.
The things that ground me personally is a daily mediation in which I pray, sing, journal, process my thoughts and feelings, complete structured activities and sometimes just sit in silence. There are times most recently due to the current events that I use this time to do a daily pep talk to refocus myself, center my thoughts and feelings, ground myself, catch my breath, remind myself of the important things and get perspective. Without this morning ritual I wouldn't be able to be an effective wife, mom, clinician, professor or practice owner.
What can you start doing tomorrow to ground yourself in order to more intentionally ride out the waves of our current crisis and the anxiety and overwhelm that threatens to rob you of everyday peace.
If you are struggling with self-care, consider seeking the help of a licensed mental health professional. They can help with healthy coping mechanisms and strategies that suit your life.
The therapists at Traveling Light Counseling specialize in helping clients achieve personal happiness. We welcome the chance to discuss an individualized plan to meet your needs. Contact us at 772-361-8448 to learn more.