Parenting

Why Self-Care Isn't 'Selfish,' According To A Self-Care Expert

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Self-care has become something you buy, not something you do. Yes, consumerism, you’re the reason we can’t have nice things. Taking care of ourselves doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. It is an integral part of our holistic wellness. But don’t just take my word for it.

Amy Acaba, LMHC, PMH-C, Individual Psychotherapist, Supervisor and Clinical Director at Let’s Talk Psychological Wellness, has some professional insight about self-care — like how it can impact our day-to-day, and great ways to practice it that don’t cost a thing. Oh, and most importantly, she busts the myth that taking care of yourself is selfish. I don’t know about you, but I always forget that last one.

Self-Care Matters In Our Day-To-Day

We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. Amy talks more about that analogy: “When we are tending to ourselves, making sure all of our cups are full (or full enough), we are a healthier version of ourselves. Taking care of ourselves results in feeling more grounded, more patient, and more compassionate.”

“Taking care of ourselves should be viewed through a holistic lens, including our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. For example, what this might look like in real-time could be movement or exercise for the body. Therapy and inner work for the mind, like reflection or journaling. And last but not least, spiritual practice for the soul.”

I don’t know about you, but those are all things I can get on board with. But when it comes to self-care, is there such a thing as doing it wrong?

“Often this practice is pictured to be lighting candles, taking baths, and going to the spa,” says Amy. “Don’t get me wrong, all of those are examples of self-care. But, we can expand our view to account for more sustainable and accessible options. It’s become a sort of buzzword these days, but it’s still good people are having conversations about it and considering what it means to them.”

It Doesn’t Have To Cost A Thing

Okay, so self-care is a great idea, but do we really have the cash or the time? The answer is yes — even if it’s only a few minutes. Amy shared some of her daily practices that honestly sound doable and enjoyable.

“My daily(ish) self-care includes meditation, reading, physical movement, some form of connection with others, and an emotional/mental check-in. There are so many great meditation options out there; it’s important to find one with language that resonates with you.”

The important part, she emphasizes, is starting small with any new activity that you’re trying to make a habit.”Maybe try to read or meditate for two or three minutes at first, then build slowly over time. I know you may be thinking reading for two minutes is pointless, but it’s two more minutes than the zero minutes you’re reading now. So go ahead and try out a new practice, no matter how small it sounds.”

Other self-care strategies Amy relies on are deeper reflections and maintaining healthy boundaries with herself and others. “But I am also sure to prioritize fun and enjoyable activities and connecting with people who contribute to my own positive feelings,” she adds.

Above All Else, It Isn’t Selfish

I don’t know about all the other parents, spouses, and caretakers out there, but sometimes taking “me time” feels selfish. Like I shouldn’t waste time doing things for myself that I can do later. Spoiler alert: later never comes. Amy shared a few ways we can work taking care of ourselves into our regularly scheduled program.

“I cannot stress the importance of this statement enough: Self-care is not selfish. Please make this a daily affirmation. Taking care of yourself is a necessity to living a healthy life. It does not have to be a lavish or time-consuming activity. However, sometimes it might mean asking for help.”

Amy says she’s a big advocate of building self-care into practices we already have set in place: Do you have a quiet few minutes while drinking a cup of coffee? While you’re sipping, take those two or three minutes to read. Do you want to start a gratitude practice? While you’re brushing your teeth, think of three things you felt grateful for that day.

Yes! Eureka, she’s got it! But what about those times where you feel like you just can’t take another thing on your to-do list?

“Sometimes stepping back from doing too much is a form of self-care in itself. For example, maybe there’s a social or work request that you don’t have the bandwidth for. Say no. Remember that “no” is a complete sentence. Everyone is deserving of and ultimately requires self-care, especially caretakers.”

Alright. There we have it from a self-care expert, folks. If there is one promise you make to yourself in 2022, make it a promise of engaging in meaningful self-care practices. Want a super-easy way to start? Check out Amy on Instagram @self_care_everywhere. Her infographics alone are enough to remind you every single day to slow down, check in, and just breathe.

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