- (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.
It’s not always easy to put oneself first, particularly when you have other people depending on you. Women active in their different communities, mothers, daughters, wives, and girlfriends have the added historical bias of often being expected to fill a carer’s role or to be available to help even when they don’t have the capacity to do so. This added societal pressure can at times make difficult to say ‘no.’ Or, it can prevent taking the time that you need to look after yourself else first.
Sometimes you can feel selfish about putting yourself first or for concentrating on one’s own needs. However, self-care is vitally important. The act of knowing what you need to be functioning at your best and taking the time to ensure that you get what you need, is both not selfish it is also of benefit to those who may rely on you. Self-care is also your responsibility.
Why is Self-Care Important?
As the flight attendant says in the safety demonstration at the beginning of the flight, “if the situation arises, fit your own oxygen mask before assisting someone else to fit their mask.” If you don’t address your own needs first, then you won’t have the capacity to assist another person and their needs.
Sometimes, you may be lacking the time, resources, or knowledge to help someone. Sometimes, you may be exhausted, stressed or just not in the right mental state. Working to give someone else what they are asking for or what they need takes energy. It is okay at these times to advocate for yourself and set a clear boundary. It helps the person who is asking for assistance know that you are not available at this time. Yet sometimes feelings of guilt, embarrassment and disappointment can develop in these situations. So regularly we push harder, do more, say yes a few more times and squeeze more into the day.
What happens if we don’t prioritise ourselves?
What are you doing if you are stretching yourself too thin? Prioritising others over your own family, your own self, your own work?
Are you depleting your ability to perform in a different area of your life? Or sacrificing one of your priorities for another person’s priorities?
Are we at our best when we are feeling guilty, embarrassed pressured into doing something?
When we have helped, do we feel good if we are resenting the fact that we had to do it in the first place? And how do we behave when we feel resentment?
This is why it is so important to taking time to replenish oneself. To recharge, to relax, to re-energise. If we have the capacity to help we can. If we have capacity to help maybe not right at this moment, but maybe after we have had some self-care time then we will. Ultimately, we will be better for it. Also, our capacity to help may be improved and others will get the benefit of this best version of ourselves.
The Self-Care wheel below can perhaps inspire some new ways to reenergise and take care of oneself.
This Self-Care Wheel was inspired by and adapted from “Self-Care Assessment Worksheet” from Transforming the Pain: A
Workbook on Vicarious Traumatization by Saakvitne, Pearlman & Sta of TSI/CAAP (Norton, 1996). Created by Olga Phoenix Project: Healing for Social Change (2013).
Taking the time to check in with yourself and put your needs first can have substantial health benefits. Make sure to set aside time each week and do your best to fulfill this. You wouldn’t try to drive a car with no petrol, so why would you try to run yourself with no fuel in the tank?
Our Psych Up! resources in October are based on Mental Health Month. Make sure to stay tuned for our weekly blog post updates, as well as our podcasts and webinars.
For more information about performance psychology, women’s mental health, trainings and resources, the the Self Care Wheelor anything else mentioned, get in touch with our team today.