Let’s get some definitions out of the way.
Selfish is when you only have your self interest in mind and take no one else’s feeling, opinions, needs, wants, or desires into consideration.
Self-Care is when you take care of yourself so that you can function, take care of other’s needs, and mostly sustain some sort of energy level so that you can carry on.
There is a difference, even though you can selfishly take time to practice self care when it is the least convenient for people, it is not recommend. Scheduling a much needed massage when your kiddos have a soccer game, during your best friend’s wedding, or at the same time as a very important work meeting. These are not only examples of selfish self-care, they are probably pretty good examples of how to piss your partner and kiddos off, how to lose a best friend, and lose your job. That being said, self-care in and of itself is not selfish, it is necessary. So this article isn’t really about the balance of being selfish and self-care, it is about the balance of taking care of yourself and becoming a martyr for no cause.
Our society today asks that we give all of ourselves all the time. From being available 24/7 on our devices to being a great employee/parent/partner/friend at all times, where is there room to just be?
Break out the pen and calendar, because you are about to schedule yourself some time.
My parents divorced when I was young, maybe 8 years old. I remember my dad telling me that we (his kids) were his first priority and that whatever else happened, he would always put us first. When I later brought this up to my mom, she quickly replied “I take care of myself first, always. Because without me being well cared for, I can’t take care of you.” I admit, I thought this was very selfish of her. And up until recently, I was determined not to parent from that place. Three and a half years into motherhood and I finally see that it has to be both, not either or. I can make sure my boys never go hungry, even if that means I eat less. In the same breath, they will also see my practice of yoga, know that I go for regular massages as well as witness my enjoying reading and writing. Balance of giving everything and self-care, this is the key!
So what IS self-care?
It’s a popular phrase that gets thrown around a lot and maybe you don’t really know what qualifies as self-care. Anything that makes you feel refreshed, your cup feel fuller or things that bring you joy. That is self-care. Sure a day at the spa is nice, but you don’t have to save up or only treat yourself once a month. It can be going to your favorite coffee shop and sipping a latte on the patio or picking up a new book and curling up on the sofa to read. Picking up your favorite flowers or packing a picnic for you and a friend to take to the park. Maybe it’s a luxurious bubble bath or a swim at your local watering hole. It could be painting or picking up a coloring book for some child-like fun. Some days my favorite song and a glass of iced tea are all I need for some self-care. Whatever makes you feel good is what self-care is for you.
It isn’t selfish to take some time for yourself no matter what you do – whether you’re a CEO, CEO of your home or somewhere in between – every body needs some.
Liz Vartanian is a yoga teacher, writer, and mom living in Austin, TX. She teaches restorative yoga offering yogis a chance to leave class feeling energized and supported with a side of community as students are often surprised with home cooked goodies after long relaxing Savasanas. She is the co-creator of eight limb//life, a course encouraging everyone to discover their practice of yoga in all aspects of life. When not teaching yoga, Liz can be found with her family where there is coffee, good friends, toy trucks, and a body of water!
Check out Liz’s website, Facebook, and Instagram pages
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