The difference between self-care and selfish

We often think self-care is selfish, but they are two very different things.

Self-care the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

Oxford Dictionaries

Selfish (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure

Oxford Dictionaries

The main difference you will note is one is the practice of protecting wellbeing and care for self, and the other lacks consideration or practice. Being selfish will alienate you from loved ones, friends and family, whilst self-care will improve your health, wellbeing and relationships with those you care about. Self-care and selfish are very different things, to look after yourself is not selfish. Self-care enhances not only your life but the lives of those around you.

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Everyone needs self-care, we all face daily challenges that grind us down. Whether its work or home related, it all piles up onto our shoulders and weighs us down until we can no longer stand on our own two feet. More than likely you are currently juggling more than one thing, kids, work, household chores, being a good friend, supporting other family members and caring for everyone but yourself. But what happens if something happens to you? Who will look after your kids, partner, house, pets or family? Will your job care, or will they replace you with the next plebe? Chances are there will be a gapping hole in the lives of those you love, possibly never to be filled again. Your work will live on without you, jobs replace people. So who are you living for?

Signs you may need to stop and self-care a little or a lot are:

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  • Lethargy – your tired all the time. Things you previously had energy for you no longer have.
  • Sleeplessness – you may have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep.
  • Hard to unwind – your feeling highly stressed and wound up all the time. Unwinding is difficult, there seems an endless amount of things you need to do. You have more things to do than time to do them.
  • Agitated – you may be snappy and moody, you can’t seem to tolerate anything any more, everyone and everything is annoying. Your partner may seem dumber than normal, your kids might seem like they are nagging all the time, and your work feels like a relentless hound at your heels.
  • Feelings of hopelessness – it may all seem hopeless and pointless, You may feel like this phase of life will never end. But, I can assure you its just a season and it will pass.

So what now? You probably identified at least one sign of being over worked and overwhelmed. That is normal, because your a human and not a machine. But what are you going to do to ensure you don’t break down? After all, even machines get stopped and serviced to ensure they keep running efficiently, and prevent costly, or permanent breakages. Prolonged stress is a leading cause of mental health issues and heart disease. Your loved ones need you to continue to love and support them, but they need you at your best.

Self-care does not have to be time consuming or costly. After all its not selfish, it is very practical and essential. Things you can try doing to self-care are:

  • Do things you enjoy doing – get a hobby, read a book (escape to a love story or place in time or history), do puzzles, arts and crafts, exercise or sports. I’m sure you can think of something you enjoy and haven’t done because “you don’t have time”.
  • Listen to music – Listen to uplifting music, find words that connect with your spirit, soul or personality. Music can change the rate of your heart, fast music creates a fast beat, slow music a slow beat. If you are feeling anxious and stressed listen to something with a slow beat to help calm and reduce your anxiety.
  • Have a bath – soaking in warm water is great for your tense muscles. Its forced quiet time which is great for the mind and you get clean. Add some bath salts and music, and melt away your tension.
  • Holidays – Holidays don’t have to be a 5 star resort, it can be camping or staying with a friend interstate or another town. Getting away and out of the house is great for forgetting the daily grind, which leaves its reminders all over your home.
  • Outings – take advantage of free or cheap local events. Often communities have cinema in the park sessions, libraries have events, go to the beach, have a picnic, enjoy the park, try a walking trail, etc.
  • Try something new – try new food, a restaurant or a place you have never been.

Life is short and fragile, look after yourself if not for you, for the people you love. Now its up to you. Only 5-10 minutes of self-care a day can make a difference. Schedule in something daily for at least 5-10 mins, then something a bit longer once a week.

What are you going to do to look after you?

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