Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

A servant’s heart is one of the traits I feel enormously proud that I possess. It has always been a joy of mine to serve others, and I have always seen that as one of my best qualities. Growing up I learned the importance of putting others before myself, and I have held that value for my entire life. For that I am grateful, because I truly believe it makes me a better person. However, I often fall trap to putting others first even when it harms me. A lot of this stems from me being a people pleaser and wanting everyone to like me and to approve of me. Because of this I find it hard to put myself first sometimes. It feels weird, because I have grown up being taught to put myself after other people, but recently I have learned a really valuable lesson: I need self-care in my life.

Self-care is so good for your mental health!!! Sometimes we just need to look out for ourselves and do what is in our best interest. This doesn’t mean we have to be mean. You can take care of yourself and not be mean to other people. Self-care isn’t an excuse but rather an opportunity. It does not mean you can do whatever you want whenever you want but it does mean doing what is best for you even when it hurts a little. It means looking after yourself first and foremost, because untimely you are the only one who can do that. It means taking a time out from the world for yourself, resting, and looking after your needs. It can be so easy getting caught up with other people’s wounds we forget to look at our own, but in order to help others we must first help ourselves. This looks different on everyone and everyone needs self care in different ways. Sometimes that means putting that Netflix self-care night over hanging out with friends because you need a break. Other times, it may look more serious, like making a choice to end a friendship or relationship of some sort because it is toxic for you and your growth as a person. It doesn’t always feel good and easy, but it is important that you know that it is okay to put your needs first sometimes. Especially when dealing with mental illness, often times giving yourself the self-care you need is part of recovery and learning what you need to do in order to have a healthier mind. It’s not easy and it can feel very selfish sometimes, but we have to remember that we all need to put ourselves first from time to time. It does not make you a bad person; it makes you a person.

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Doing what’s best for you is one of the best things you can do for yourself. In order for us to be happy and healthy people, we need to be able to do these things for ourselves when necessary. Now, the world thinks self-care is selfish. They see it as some stupid synonym for being lazy that us Generation Z people came up with to not have to go to work or face difficult people. But honestly, when you think about self-care in how I described it, is it really selfish? Are you selfish for looking after yourself, for taking care of yourself, whether that be a mental health day at home, confronting someone who has really hurt you, financially preparing yourself for your future plans, or literally any other of the billion self care activities you can do? Personally, I don’t think it is; honestly I think it is only selfish on the surface level when you don’t look inward. From the outside it looks selfish, but think about it: if taking care of yourself is selfish then isn’t everything we do every day selfish?? When someone takes medicine when they are sick with something like the flu, a cold, the stomach virus, strep, etc., we don’t call that selfish, so why should we say self-care, which is essentially medicine for the mind, selfish? All of our disagreements about this kind of stuff stems from our lack of knowledge of mental health as a society. We don’t understand so overall we dismiss it instead of trying to understand. Self-care is not some excuse people use now to get out of work. Self-care is looking after ourselves. It takes bravery and courage to perform self care. To make yourself your number one priority. To talk about self-care in the open in the midst of judgmental people who do not understand. The people who are talking about this are not stupid or lazy, they are strong and courageous people who are trying to bring mental health conversations to the dinner table with the world, in the hopes that the future will be kinder to those suffering from mental illnesses.

There are a lot of uphill battles with mental illnesses, and this really does not have to be one of them. The mental health community deals with too much to have to argue about this very simple thing. Self-care is not selfish, period. Please, let’s stop arguing about it and start making changes to help people so they can live the lives they want to live. Let’s change the conversation one self-care activity at a time. So go. Look at the clouds. Call a friend. Confront an enemy. Watch that movie. Eat the pizza. Block that person. Go out with friends. Let’s make self care normal so people stop seeing it as selfish and start being open to it themselves! I know that together we can make self-care a priority in everyone’s lives and one day it will be as normal as a doctor visit! Join me in unstigmatizing self-care! I’m proud to say I perform self-care and I am not selfish, are you?

With love,

Maddie

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