The Importance of Self-Care
Who has time to look after his or her own needs? We are all too busy and have too many responsibilities a spouse, a child, a boss, a dog. Self-care will allow you to improve your functioning in your job, avoid burnout, and best of all, assist you in personal relationships, whether with other adults or your children. By self-care, I mean purposely and actively taking time for yourself to do something that rejuvenates and energizes you. Individuals cannot be effective in their personal or professional lives, if they do not take care of themselves.
Self-care is often confused with selfishness. This is especially true with women, who have been trained to nurture and look after others by our culture. When individuals take care of themselves, and put personal needs ahead of other to dos others may refer to them as being selfish. However, if these individuals are taking care of themselves in order to be better parents, employees, or spouses, then self-care is not selfish. Selfishness involves putting ones own needs ahead of others with only his or her own benefit in mind.
Healthy relationships with a partner involve a balance between time spent together and time for the individual. Taking time for yourself, whether alone, or in activities outside of the home with others, can enhance personal relationships by giving you new experiences to share with your partner and an opportunity to develop your individuality and creativity.
In the psychology profession there is a Code, which guides our practice and assists in making good decisions. It states that in order to be effective as psychologists, and to avoid putting ourselves in a place where we could harm others, psychologists must practice self-care. This general principle of self-care can be applied to all roles in life, as employees, partners, parents, and students. While there are many activities that can be considered to contribute to self-care, you must decide which ones work for you. For some people, a bath is very relaxing, while for others a strenuous workout is how they look after themselves.
These are a few suggestions to try. The only limitation is that the self-care activity should be a healthy one. Using excessive amounts of alcohol, drugs, or food to cope or try and relax is ultimately more self-defeating than self-promoting. Not that having a drink or eating a hot fudge sundae is bad idea, but a steady diet of either can be destructive. Try to incorporate healthy activities in order to really care for yourself.
Parenting is an activity that is improved by self-care as the effects of not looking after yourself may lead to increased frustration, losing your temper quickly, and maybe yelling at your child. Lack of self-care is not the only reason parents become frustrated, but it can help to prevent or reduce the effects of stress as you parent your child.
Self-care also includes spoiling yourself once in awhile. This might be taking a non-credit class at Keyano College on a topic of interest for you, starting a new hobby or sport, buying that sweater you have been eyeing, or taking a spontaneous weekend trip just for fun. Again, how you like to spoil yourself is what is important.
Not all self-care activities have to be done alone. Sometimes, people are energized by interacting with others in social situations. Parties, team sports, and community events are some examples of interactive ways to care for yourself.
The amount of time required to care for yourself is less important than the fact that you take time and how you spend that time. Whether it is one hour a week, or a half-a-day twice a month, or even one weekend per month, the time should be set aside specifically for taking care of yourself. So, think about how you regain your energy to be the best mother, father, student, partner, or professional you can be, and incorporate one of those activities into your life this week. Take the time to take care of yourself.
If you would like more information on self-care, or would like to talk to a psychologist, please contact one of the staff at ECSS Psychological Services. As well, if you have other topics that you would like to discuss, please contact us.
Return to Main Page