Self Care Isn’t Selfish
Thoughts on self care and the “I don’t have time for it” excuse.
Wake up. Shower and get ready for work, but skip breakfast. Go to work. Rush from meeting to meeting trying to do twelve things at once before hitting rush hour traffic to make it home for dinner. Maybe watch a TV show before going to bed. Repeat. Sound familiar?
I understand busy schedules, and I’m someone who prefers to bounce from one thing to the next because I like to be busy. I like scheduling every second of my day and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with checking the boxes on my to do lists. At one point not too long ago my schedule was so full that I was scheduling two and three things to be done at the same time multiple days in a row. So, I get having a busy schedule and feeling like there’s no time for things like exercise, meditation, eating healthy, or even sleep. However, I made a conscious effort to make time for those self care routines that ended up changing my whole life and you can too.
Recently, I was listening to US99 Country Radio and heard how a scarily large percentage of Americans don’t eat breakfast, and one woman called into the show saying how she does not eat breakfast because she doesn’t have time. I’ll admit I was taken aback by the matter a fact way she said she doesn’t have time to eat breakfast because I’m someone who refuses to compromise on my self care especially given that I’ve experienced myself with and without it and the benefits far outweigh the costs. We live in a society that prioritizes all work and no play all the time starting early on in school. Students as young as elementary school are assigned multiple hours of homework per night after an 8 hour school day and then sports and band practice or musical rehearsal leaving no time for them to hang out, have fun, and be kids. That isn’t healthy. That isn’t fun. That isn’t living.
Self care is so important, and if you want to have the time for it, you will make the time for it. Yes, maybe this means getting up earlier in the day, but it’s all about mindset you have. I used to think everything I did had to have an external productive reason behind it, that it had to relate to school or work or be beneficial to someone other than me. Then I realized that self care is productive, that I am worth devoting my own time to, and that taking care of my self only benefits the other aspects of my life. Having that me time is recharging myself so I am better capable of managing the day and the stressors that inevitably show up. I have more energy and feel more productive overall.
We all have different ways to self care. It’s not a one-size-fits-all method. The goal is the same, to literally care for yourself, but there are many ways to get to that goal. For example, exercise, reading, mani/pedi, cooking your favorite meal, spending time working on a hobby like painting or playing music. There are 86,400 seconds in one day. Try taking 60 of those seconds just once a day to be still and breathe. Or take 120 seconds when you wake up each morning to think about what you are grateful for. Math says if you did both of those things, you would still have over 86,000 seconds to spend running around. There is plenty of time in the day, you merely have to find it, and then schedule it. And, self care looks different to everyone, and can change over time. What helps you in one phase of your life may not be as effective in another, and that’s okay. We can always grow and adapt with life, as long as we don’t ignore ourselves because at the end of the day, our health is the most valuable thing we have.
I’ve learned that we make time for things we prioritize, things that are important to us, but sometimes we’re so set in our ways that we don’t stop to think the other option could be better. You have to be in a place to want to make this mindset shift and it will take work. Like anything else habitual, it takes active commitment to do and stick to something different. But I promise you it’s worth it. You are the most important person in your life so don’t sacrifice your physical, mental, and spiritual well being.