Self-care: We hear it all the time now. Or, more accurately, see it as skin care products, fizzy bath bombs, yoga poses and more. But self-care is more than what’s commercialized on our social media feeds.
Self-care started way back as a way to physically take care of yourself, but later evolved into caring for your emotional well-being as well. Then why do we sometimes feel like self-care is selfish?
Maybe you’ve just called off dinner, declined an invite where your ex will be, or even just said no to anything. This might leave you feeling a little selfish or guilty. It DOES matter that you’re emotionally and physically exhausted, or that your mental health is suffering.
You might lie awake in bed, thinking about how you should have done something different or been better in some other way. Saying no feels like a failure, like you’re incompetent or unequipped to handle day-to-day life.
But if staying in helps you prioritize yourself and your own energy and healing, are you really being selfish?
Redefining what it actually means to be selfish
When the word “selfish” comes to mind, it often sparks negative connotations at first. We think self-centered, self-serving, self-involved. And we’re supposed to avoid thinking only “me and my interests,” right? To instead try to live for the good of all humankind, since giving is taught as preferential to taking?
Because it’s defined as being concerned with only your own personal pleasure and profit, as well as lacking consideration for others, we think of selfish as the times when we’re simply putting ourselves first.
Just like all things, there’s a spectrum. Sometimes the right thing is to be “selfish.” And just because someone defines something you’ve done as selfish (like opting out of their party), doesn’t mean you have to define it on their terms.
Don’t beat yourself up for being ‘selfish’
Sometimes being “selfish” isn’t a bad thing. There are times when being selfish is the right thing to do for your health and well-being.
Here are some of those times:
1. You need to rest
When you’re feeling tired — it doesn’t matter if it’s emotionally, mentally, or physically — it’s time to rest. Sometimes, that just comes down to sleep.
Resting doesn’t always mean sleep. Whether your brain is feeling off-balance or you have a health condition flare up, consider it a sick day and take the time off. And don’t feel obligated to do the laundry since you’re at home. Read a book in bed, binge-watch a show or take a nap.
If you’re feeling fatigued, exhausted, or in pain, it’s time to get some extra rest and not feel guilty about it. Rest is essential to any type of recovery.
2. You just need alone time
Some people might not get it when you choose staying home over going out. If that’s what you’re in the mood to do, don’t feel selfish for wanting to be alone.
We all need alone time sometimes, and some people need more than others. Social interactions can be exhausting for some people. There’s no shame in taking time for yourself.
3. It’s time to end that timeline in your life
It’s never easy breaking up with a significant other, moving to a new city, or quitting a job. If you feel bad when you interact with someone or dread encountering them again, it’s time rethink your relationship.
We often stay in friendships or relationships because we’re scared of hurting someone. But when it comes to relationships that are damaging, sometimes you need to put yourself first.
4. Taking is being significantly outweighed by giving
Although it can fluctuate, any relationship should have a good balance of give-and-take. But when the scales tip so that all you’re doing is giving and all they’re doing is taking, it might be time to do something.
Depending on the situation, you may choose to talk to them, take a short break to recharge, or cut them out completely. It’s not selfish to prioritize your own needs over others if the act of giving is causing you more harm.
5. Avoid burnout, whether it’s work or in your personal life
Everyone is susceptible to burnout or work exhaustion. Certain professions can be exceptionally draining. When burnout occurs, it can hurt both your professional and personal life.
Turn off your work notifications, snooze your email, and deal with it tomorrow. Most of the time, whatever it is can be handled just as well tomorrow instead of in the middle of dinner. No matter what you do, make sure you have time to separate yourself from your work. Creating this work-life balance can help you avoid burnout and bring more happiness to your personal life.
Take care of yourself
Don’t neglect yourself and your health to avoid feeling selfish. Selfishness doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be good to be a little selfish to take care of your emotional, mental and physical well-being. You can reduce your stress by being a little selfish now and then and take care of yourself.
As the saying goes: ‘There is nothing wrong with healthy selfishness’