The Self in Self-Care

The Obsession with Self

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Photo by Nick Fewings
Photo by Nick Fewings

I’m not going to lie: The term “self-care” gets a little bit under my skin.

While I, of all people, fully understand the importance of and have advocated for self-care and benefited greatly from taking care of myself, simultaneously, I wonder if the focus on “self” is a bit of a runaway train.

In social media feeds, there are countless references to “self”.

I want to see more about what we can do to help others.

Cancer prevention aside, what about the food insecurity and homeless children in this country? How are we solving those problems?

It’s not self-care that is the rub—it’s the obsession with the self.

Maybe I’d feel better if it were called “we care” or “I care for you”…

Since first initiating the work for Less Cancer in 2003, I found it challenging to take care of myself at times. However, I now understand how critical and lifesaving it is to take care of ourselves.

That said, my “self-care” includes not just me but my family, friends, and community.

Self-care for me includes thinking about caring for the people in my life, including where and how they live.

It includes wanting to make sure environments are clean and that things like drinking water and schools are safe.

What I know is that we cannot help others unless we help ourselves first, not unlike the message we hear from flight attendants to place the oxygen mask on yourself first and the baby second.

For me, self-care must include caring for humanity.

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