Self-Care is an Act of Survival

As women, we all serve in multiple roles during any given day day. We may serve as mom, daughter, significant other, sister, boss, co-worker, entrepreneur, activist, or friend, among others. Many of us have been programmed to believe that all those roles have to come before our own needs.

Self-care, on the other hand, is the deliberate act of centering ourselves and putting our needs at the forefront of our priority list. It involves engaging in activities or practices that help reduce or manage stress, aid in our overall health and well-being, increase our energy and satisfaction, and assist in taking care of our emotional, mental, and physical health.

I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival. — Audre Lorde

When we have a never-ending to-do list, it’s easy to prioritize the needs of others and the responsibilities of daily life until we run ourselves ragged. Self-care frequently ends up at the bottom of the list, and often gets ignored altogether because there always seems to be more pressing matters to tend to.

For years, people — women in particular — have talked about self-care through the angle of how important it is to take care of ourselves so that we are better able to take care of others in our lives. I’m sure you’ve heard those sentiments before, such as “you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first” or “you can’t serve from an empty vessel.”

On the surface, these concepts all make sense. Focusing on our own self-care does allows us to be better equipped to serve others in our lives.

Below the surface, however, that idea is actually flawed. If we believe the rhetoric according to which the purpose of self-care is to be better acclimated to take care of others, then we begin to view it solely as something we should allow ourselves in order to show up better for other people.

 

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