Making Sense Of The Mess

Changing Messy Thinking

Self-Care: The Price is Right

It started off as a casual conversation over a morning’s cup of coffee. We covered a wide range of topics as we eagerly shared our stories. Suddenly, I postured myself and intently listened to her next words. She spoke about her personal space, a place she retreated to everyday. With great conviction, she described why she cherished this routine. An “aha moment” came as I witnessed a mental block start to crumble. It became clear why I struggled so much with this week’s blog on self-care. Once I totally removed the block, I would finish my blog.

The Importance of Self-Care

The conversation I described occurred between my daughter-in-law, Beibei and I. As a new mother of a ten-month old, she still carves out time everyday for herself. It’s one of her priorities. Why? Because she sees it as an investment: the more you give to yourself, the better you show up for yourself and for others.

Think of it this way, our bodies are like batteries. Everything we do from the time we get up drains our energy. When our batteries get depleted, they need to be recharged – just like our cellphones.  Beibei’s personal space is her charger. Here she restores her energy to improve her well-being and the connections she has with others.

We all need to recharge. But, there are other ways to make self-care a priority. Before we explore them, I’d like to share my “aha moment.” It might help some of you who confuse self-care with being selfish.

Is Self-Care Selfish?

While I admired Beibei’s conviction to her daily self-care practice, a part of me was triggered. I questioned if it was selfish. Where was this thought coming from? I needed to dig for some answers.

I thought about the things we were taught as children in regards to others. How we should think of others’ needs and feelings. That it was nice to share with others. How we were warned over and over again not to be selfish. 

Sometimes expectations were made to put others’ feelings or needs before our own. If we did it willingly, we felt appreciated and loved. But, if we did it reluctantly or refused to do it, we felt like a disappointment or selfish. 

Most of what we learned or were expected to do as children was not unreasonable. We all need to learn how to connect with others. It’s the perceptions we form as children and carry into adulthood that hinder us. Which brings me to my “aha moment.”

Because I adopted the role of caretaker at an early age, my self-concept was based on what I did for others. I felt selfish if I put myself first. Hence, the knee-jerk reaction. Once I recognized it was not uncommon for caretakers to feel selfish, I applied self-compassion. I asked myself: Is taking care of myself really selfish? My answer: “Of course not!”

Caretakers often struggle with feelings of selfishness. Beware of this and try to reframe your messy thoughts the next time you feel selfish saying “No.”  Remind yourself you are a worthwhile investment. When you take care of yourself, you show up better for yourself and for others.

Now let’s look at three categories of self-care and ways to experience overall well-being.

Routine Self-Care

“Self-Care is the new Health Care,”  a term seen more often these days, especially with the current state of health insurance. We also see psychologists use it to promote overall well-being.

Suffice it to say, we all want healthy bodies and healthy minds. To experience them, we need a plan, a daily routine to give us a fighting chance. We need to practice self-care.

We practice daily self-care when we eat nutritionally, drink plenty of water, exercise, walk, and get plenty of sleep.  These practices fuel our bodies for peak performance. They also fuel our brains as healthy blood flow keeps us mentally sharp.

Some people add other daily routines. They meditate, journal or pray to equip themselves mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Mediation helps  calm down your mind and free it from racing thoughts. Journaling helps stabilize your emotions and bring clarity to confusion. Prayer opens you up spiritually. It strengthens you inwardly and empowers you. 

There are so many other daily routines to include here. I only scratched the surface. The important thing to remember is how our commitment to daily self-care helps us achieve optimal well-being.

Optimal well-being? I’d say the price is right!

Situational Self-Care

Situational self-care differs from our daily routines. There are times throughout the day we get thrown a curveball. Situations arise and trigger emotional and behavioral responses. As they unfold, we need to  generate actions of self-care to get us through. Here are some examples:

  • Practice deep breathing when anxious or stressed.
  • Give yourself some space to regroup and calm your emotions when in confrontation exchanges.
  • Forgive yourself when you make mistakes.
  • Take power naps when  tired or fatigued.
  • Tell yourself “You matter” when rejected or feel rejected.
  • Apply self-compassion generously when your self-critic arises, with kindness and self-love.

Again, there are a number of ways to face messy situations as they arise. I’ve talked about triggers before. When they occur, and they will, we need to be aware of them. Self-awareness opens the door to self-compassion and self-care. When we take immediate action, we experience stability.

Stability? I’d say the price is right!

Emergency Self-Care

This last category consists of times where long-term care is needed. The practices we use for routine and situational self-care are often practiced here. But, we may have to up the ante to get through the adversity or trauma we face.

Sometimes we need outside help. Family and friends provide a great source of love and encouragement, but it may not be enough. A therapist or support group can give us a safe place to work through and heal our pain.

Another option is to find an outlet to bring a new sense of purpose to your life. Is there a class you always wanted to take or a hobby you never made time for? Is there a place you might volunteer at?  Distractions like these may help restore hope as you find a way to connect to something outside your painful situation.

When we are hopeful, we are able to move forward and experience the changes we desire.

Hope that leads me towards change? I’d say the price is right!

Closing Thoughts

The benefits of self-care far outweigh the time spent to prepare and implement routine, situational and emergency practices. We pay the price and experience mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Wouldn’t you agree? The price IS right!

How about you? Do you have a personal space you go to rejuvenate? As you handle situational curveballs, what’s your line of attack? Are you willing to reach out for help from others? 

Please share your thoughts.  I’d love to hear from you and learn some new strategies for self-care.

Until then, thanks for taking the time to read.

About Pamela Parker

I am a writer. I love spending time with my family, especially my grandchildren. My passion for learning shows up in reading and taking courses on topics that help bring positive change in my life and hopefully those around me.


4 Replies

  1. barbara ramp

    Pam, just as before, I love your writing <3

    1. Thanks, Barb. It’s an adventure. I have to say it may be a little stressful getting into the groove of writing consistently, but it sure fulfills me in so many ways.
      Thanks for your support!

  2. Carol Horton

    Pam, I like to do something with my hands like raking the yard. That, to me, is like a moving meditation. If that’s not doable, I retreat to my fortress of solitude (my office) and look at all the things I have purposely placed in there: A couple turtles from my mother’s collection, an old jar filled with buttons that belonged to her mother, my other grandmother’s candy dish, my father-in-law’s change dish, a picture of my grandchildren’s first experience with the ocean. This slows me down, fills me up, and reminds me that I’ve had a wonderful life and everything will be ok.

    1. Carol,
      I’m sorry I haven’t replied to you sooner. I just read your comment. Thanks for sharing!
      I can so relate to your “fortress of solitude – your office”. My fortress is my bedroom. I have my “hall of fame”, family pictures/portraits, carefully balanced on the top edges of the wood trim around the windows and closets of my room. Trinkets from vacations hang from the four corners of the ceiling. Every morning before I get out of bed, or at night before I lay my head down, I look around and am filled with gratitude.

Leave a Reply