Have you ever struggled with taking time to yourself because it just feels… selfish?
Maybe you know you really need the afternoon off, but your list of all the other things you “should” do feels long.
Perhaps it feels impossible to find the time between everything else on your plate. It could be that you’re used to putting others first, and by now that habit feels pretty ingrained.
You know you want to do more of the things that will make you happy, like go for a walk in the forest, read a good book, or watch a funny film, but you also want to be a good friend, or partner, or parent… and choosing self-care sometimes feels like the selfish choice.
But what if self-care wasn’t something to feel guilty about, but rather the key to feeling and being your best self in all of those areas?
Here are 3 reasons self-care is not selfish at all:
1. You’ll have more to give to those you love
It’s common to feel that other people should come first, and to feel guilty for spending time on ourselves — but consider that taking care of yourself actually benefits those close to you.
All relationships require patience, consideration, and kindness, and when you’re taking good care of yourself, the reality is that those things are easier to come by.
I know that when I’m feeling exhausted or burned out, I’m much more likely to take something the wrong way or to get irritated easily, and I’m certainly less fun to be around.
But if I’ve just listened to my favourite podcast, spent 10 minutes playing with the cat, or gone for a cycle around Hyde Park? Then it’s much more likely you’ll find me with a smile on my face, making a silly joke, or patiently helping out.
When I’m taking good care of myself and making enjoying myself a priority, I have the energy to be the kind of partner, friend, and coach I really want to be.
Put like that, self-care doesn’t feel selfish at all. Quite the opposite.
I’m curious: when you take great care of yourself, who (other than you) benefits?
2. You’ll be less dependent on other people
Sharing your struggles with a loved one or having them support you through a challenging time is a normal part of all great relationships, but maybe you sometimes worry about being a burden. Maybe you’d like to depend on your loved ones a little less and on your own inner resilience a little more.
Taking good care of your wellbeing is the key. Research by Dr Barbara Fredrickson found that people who experience more positive emotion before a difficult time, cope better, and people who do activities that make them feel better during a hard time recover more quicky.
By taking good care of yourself, you’ll be less reliant on others for reassurance or support in order to feel better, and more in control of how you cope.
This helps us create the sort of relationships so many of us want, where we can choose to receive support from those we love but aren’t necessarily reliant on it in order to feel better. We have that inner strength and outer support.
All the more reason that self-care is not selfish at all.
3. You’ll juggle your responsibilities better
Remember that long list of things you feel you should do first? What if self-care was essential to getting that done?
This is certainly what the people who maintained consistent high performance reported in Dr Brendon Burchard’s study. He found that the first essential habit of High Performance was to “Generate Energy” — high performers repeatedly stated that putting their wellbeing first was how they were managing to get everything done so quickly and at such a high standard.
Isn’t it true that when you’re well-slept and feeling good, you just seem to get more done? And that all the responsibilities you have – as a parent, employee, business owner, or student – seem just a little lighter when you have the energy to do them?
It’s normal to feel like taking time for yourself is less important than all of those things, but self-care is not selfish: rather, it’s the foundation that makes everything else possible.
This is one beautiful truth I’m so passionate about teaching: it’s not necessary to sacrifice your happiness so you can have good relationships and be more productive… rather, making yourself happy is the key that opens the door to those things.
So, what will you do to tend to your wellbeing today?