Not Selfish, Necessary: Why & How to Prioritize Self-Care

“This world is so demanding. I’m so busy. I never have a moment to focus on me. It seems like everyone needs my attention all the time. Why should I set aside time for myself for some self-care?”

The short answer: because it’s absolutely necessary.

Busy-ness as a Cultural Norm

I remember the very first time I was introduced to this cultural norm of busy-ness. I was innocently sitting in my Friday afternoon sociology class when I was knocked over the head with a theory called Protestant Work Ethic. Basically, this is the idea that diligent work is how you show your grace to God. In other words, it is the idea that equates being hard-working to being worthy of God. We went on to discuss how often we, too, equated being hard-working and busy to living a successful life. How many times have you, yourself, answered the inquiry “how are you?” with “oh my God, I’ve been soooooo busy.” I bet most of you can relate.

It’s no wonder that the Protestant Work Ethic has permeated American culture. I mean, it matches perfectly well with the American dream, don’t you think? Work hard, move up the ladder, obtain success, own a house with a white picket fence- that’s the gist of it. So it’s no wonder why so many Americans are so stressed out- they’re so busy abiding by the cultural norm chasing the American dream that they forget to read between the lines: to truly be successful, you must also be happy!

And guess what? Being happy means self-care. There is no way around it.

Yes, going against a cultural norm is incredibly difficult. It’s going to require practice and work to truly make your self-care a priority, especially if you are in a serving role of any capacity.

Self-care is not Selfish, it is Necessary

In order to be the best version of yourself, you need to become your own best friend. You need to take care of your mind, body and soul before you are able to bring your best self to the table. And guess what, friend? No one can take care of you the way you can.

Trust me- if you don’t take care of yourself, your mind, body and soul will find ways to let you know. Anxiety, sickness, exhaustion, irritation- these are all signs for you to reevaluate what you’ve been doing and to take better care of yourself.

(*Please note: I am not suggesting self-care as a cure to anything, simply suggesting it can help. I am not a doctor.)

When you are not preoccupied with afflictions of the mind, body and soul, you are free to be your most wholesome self. You can approach your life without distractions. Goals can get accomplished. Plans can be formulated. The people you surround yourself with, live with, assist, serve, etc, they all get the best version of you.

So How Does it all Work?

How do you prioritize self-care in a world that demands so much of you?

First of all, you need to be fearless in your pursuit. It can be a real challenge, especially because you may experience a change in relationships. The truth is, people who are reliant on you aren’t going to like this new you- unless, of course, they are good and understanding people, in which case that’s awesome and I’m really happy for you. But that’s not always the case; a lot of the time, people get very comfortable knowing they can count on you all the time no matter what. When all of a sudden you aren’t there for them because you’ve turned off your phone for the afternoon or you can’t meet them for drinks because you’re taking yourself to the movies, yeah, they might not be too thrilled with this.

My hope is that they’ll come to understand that your decisions aren’t aimed personally towards them, but by taking care of yourself, you are being a better friend, a better spouse, a better daughter or son, a better sibling, whatever it is.

You must set your boundaries and be clear about them. Don’t want people stopping by unannounced? Tell them. You want to try a new yoga class alone? Tell your gym bestie “another time.” You want to dedicate Sundays entirely to yourself? Let people know they’re welcome to get in touch Monday-Saturday, but you won’t answer on Sundays. Set boundaries and don’t feel the need to apologize for them. They are essential to mental health.

Know that “no, thank you” is a perfectly acceptable RSVP when you need a little TLC.

Treat your body like it’s someone you love. We only get one body to transport our soul from birth to death. It is sacred; we will only ever own one, and no other is exactly like ours’. We must treat our bodies with love and care for them to return the favor by keeping us healthy. So, feed it right and keep it moving. It likes that sort of thing. 😉

Be sure to set aside time to nurture each mind, body and soul. There are infinite ways you can do this, but my best advice I can give you is to follow the little things that make your heart happy. Some people read, some people write. The mind is still being taken care of. Some people like Crossfit, some people like yoga. Either way, they’re nourishing the body. Some people feel God in church, some people feel the Universe kiss them out meditating in nature. Either way: the soul is given some tender loving care.

If you aren’t sure what it is that makes your heart happy, follow your curiosities. Always wanted to learn a language? Spotify has free audio lessons. Wanted to try Zumba? YouTube has free classes. There are also millions of resources for your spirit. My point is, there’s not an excuse as to why you shouldn’t be spending time taking care of yourself and spending time doing what you love in a healthy, productive way. Plus, you can click here and receive a FREE self-care checklist from ❤

It doesn’t take much time to do this. If all you can give yourself is five minutes a day, start there. Only have a half-hour chunk of time a week? It’s okay. Just show up for yourself wherever you can, however you can.

The most important piece of advice to getting the most out of self-care, however, is to be fearless. You have to drop expectations immediately or you’ll be spending time not getting the most out of it. For one thing, you might take up a new hobby and face questions about it. You might watch a documentary and decide to make an unexpected change in your life. Anything can happen when you start to really, truly take care of yourself. You have to stop caring what people think, especially the energy vampires who are demanding you sacrifice your self-care for them.

Do you prioritize self-care? Does it benefit you? What are your challenges with it? I want to hear all about it in the comments section. 🙂

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