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Self-care has gained significant traction. As the world gets faster, more of us are accepting how critical it is to take care of our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Sometimes it takes a health crises, like it did with me, to wake up to the reality that if we neglect our own needs, we can put ourselves at risk. Serious risk. It can get life and death-y if we’re not careful. We must put on our oxygen mask first. Practicing self-care can be challenging in our mad modern world, particularly when there’s a persistent misconception that prioritising oneself is inherently selfish. This blog is about the difference between self-care and selfishness, highlighting why self-care is essential, particularly if you’re looking to stay afloat and while surfing the waves of sobriety. Self-care is essential to stay healthy, 3-sane and sober and its key to sustaining healthy relationships. 

What is Self-Care?

Self-care are those intentional actions and practices we engage in to maintain and enhance our health and well-being. It’s how we love, nurture and take care of ourselves. This can include a wide range of activities, from physical exercise and healthy eating to meditation, hobbies, and socialising. Self-care is about recognising your emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and financial needs and taking proactive steps to meet them, so that you can be at your best and live a fun, fulfilling and balanced life. When we don’t practice self-care, we can become overwhelmed, angry, out of balance and at the bottom of the scale, we can end up seriously emotionally, mentally and physically unwell. 

Examples of Self-Care:

  • Walking in nature to clear your head, reflect and connect with self
  • Making time each day for your hobbies; drawing, dancing or reading
  • Journalling daily about your intentions, reflections and feelings
  • Practising mindfulness, meditation or passive yoga like Yoga Nidra
  • Getting sufficient sleep, rest or Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) 
  • Eating nutritious meals, snacks and staying hydrated
  • Joining a support group, fellowship or community for connection 
  • Seeking professional help and support for mental health issues.

What Does It Mean to Be Selfish?

Being selfish implies prioritising one’s own needs and desires at the expense of others. Selfish behaviour may mean disregarding the impact of your actions on those around you and failing to consider their needs. While everyone exhibits selfish behaviour at times, consistently acting this way can severely damage relationships, keep us isolated and creates a difficult environment for others*.

Examples of Selfish Behaviour:

  • Ignoring a friend in need because you’re focused on your own plans.
  • Taking credit for someone else’s work to advance your career.
  • Consistently interrupting others to voice your own opinions.
  • Hoarding resources without regard for others’ needs.
  • Refusing to compromise in situations that require cooperation.

Why Self-Care is Not Selfish

  1. Sustaining Your Well-Being: Self-care is essential to maintaining our health and well-being. Just as you wouldn’t consider eating or sleeping selfish, self-care practices are a must for our overall health and are imperative when surfing sobriety, regardless of whether you are recovering from trauma, addictions or co-dependency. Emotional sobriety means taking care of ourself to be equipped for life’s challenges and to be empowered to support those around us.
  2. Improving Relationships: By taking care of your physical, emotional, financial and spiritual needs, you can show up more fully for others. When we are well-rested and emotionally balanced, we are far more likely to be patient, understanding, and compassionate in our interactions. Self-care can lead to healthier, happier and more fulfilling relationships, interactions and life experiences.
  3. Enhancing Productivity: When we prioritise self-care, it enhances our productivity and efficiency. Taking breaks, self-regulating and maintaining balance in our mind, body and spirit, you can improve focus and performance, benefiting both personal and professional aspects of our life.
  4. Modelling Healthy Behaviour: Practising self-care sets a positive example for those around us. Prioritising self-care encourages those around you to do the same. This creates a ripple effect, fostering a culture of care, well-being and balance in your home, workplace and community.
  5. Preventing Burnout: Regular self-care can prevent burnout by keeping your tank full so that you’re not running on empty. In the absence of self-care – we run a serious risk of depleting our physical, emotional and financial resources to the point of putting everything in our life at risk. We must find ways to sustain our sobriety, spirit and sanity. 

Practise Self-Care without apology 

  1. Reframe: Understand that self-care is a necessity, not a luxury. Just as you wouldn’t apologise for brushing your teeth, you have no reason to apologise for engaging in activities that are essential to your well-being. You must prioritise your well-being to stay sober.  
  2. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries to protect your self-care time. Communicate your needs to those around you and ensure that your boundaries are respected.
  3. Start Small: Incorporate small, manageable self-care practices into your daily routine. Over time, these small acts can have a significant positive impact on your well-being.
  4. Seek Support: Surround yourself with people who understand, support and respect your self-care efforts. Share your self-care intentions with friends or join a community that prioritises well-being.
  5. Practise Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself. Recognise that taking time for self-care is not only beneficial for you but also for those around you. You can’t give what you don’t have. Taking care of yourself means you have more to give others. It’s the only way you can give to others and stay safe, sober and stable. 

Self-care is an imperative to living a sober, balanced and fulfilling life. It’s not selfish; it’s a series of essential practices to sustain positive change. When we understand the difference between self-care and selfishness, we can prioritise our needs without apology, creating change in ourselves and others. Embrace self-care as a vital part of life, and remember that it is only when we take care of ourselves that we’re equipped to help others.