Wandering through Target I spotted a Barbie display on an endcap of the toy section. Above the display was a huge sign promoting “self-care” and the dolls below it were all doing some form of the practice. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, now that Barbie is doing it, will self-care become okay for us to do?”
Pick up any women’s magazine and you will see something about the value of self-care. In fact, two were in my mailbox Saturday and both mention carving out “me” time. And they are right — it is valuable. Then why is it so hard for women to do it?
It’s not as if the concept is new. I looked up the definition of “self-care” in the dictionary and it’s simple: care for oneself. I was surprised to read the term was first used in 1841. Getting close to 200 years later and we’re still working on it.
I think, for me, part of the challenge is feeling like I have to put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own. If I take a few minutes, hours, or — goodness — a whole day to do something just for me, I’m being selfish or indulging my own needs.
This was pointed out to me recently during a session with my counselor. She asked about my priorities and I rattled them off. I ranked myself at the bottom and she suggested I move “me” up to first place. The example she gave was one I’d heard before and you may have too. If you listen to the airplane steward give the safety talk, they tell you in case of emergency put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then help you neighbor.
It’s the same concept: we can’t help anyone else if we are passed out from lack of oxygen. That may sound extreme but I’ve been on the edge of exhaustion and still pushing myself to do whatever it was I thought was so important. And it may have been, but I was so worn out I didn’t have anything to give.
The truth is self-care is not just a fad. It’s a legitimate way to care for our physical, emotional and mental health. It helps us manage stress and anxiety. Self-care isn’t just getting a pedicure (although I highly recommend them!). It’s about taking care of yourself first.
Yes, that sounds great, but how do we find time to do that? We have to make the time. Get up half an hour early every morning to workout, meditate, pray, read, or do something that recharges you. Walk during a conference call. Instead of scrolling social media again, write in your journal. Ask someone to watch your kids so you can go do something you want to do, not something on the to-do list. Say no to other things so you can say yes to yourself.
As women, we juggle a lot of responsibilities. We won’t be able to keep all the balls in the air if we don’t take care of ourselves first. What’s something you can do for yourself today?