Do you worry about this too?
Have you been in that place? Knowing you feel better with good food, being outside, having time for rest and play, and a Epsom salt bath before bed, but wondering is there enough time in the day for this?
Or maybe the even bigger worry: is it possible that all this time spent on self-care is really navel-gazing in disguise and I’m being selfish?
I remember, especially in naturopathic school, feeling that doing more was a badge of honor. For example, the (incongruous) thought went: if I stuck to a consistent sleep schedule, I didn’t care as much about being a proficient and kind doctor. It was self-indulgent to set bedtime at 10 PM and cut into potential study time.
Unfortunately, a couple of years later, I was exhausted and beat and would fall asleep at the drop of a hat in broad daylight!
While this challenge still creeps in, I’ve found the words of the wise Parker Palmer really changed how I thought about the self-care as selfish dilemma.
“Self-care is never a selfish act - it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”
Stewardship entails kindness and gentle responsibility rather than frivolity and is a reminder that taking care of ourselves is a generous act so that we can live our gifts more fully.
If your task is to be a good steward of your gift whether that’s being a loving partner, entrepreneur, teacher, healer, caregiver, parent, friend, storyteller etc, what practices nourish that gift?
What practices soothe your body, mind and soul so that you’re better able to offer your gift to others? It’s valuable to take some time to reflect on what specific activities make it on a self-care list.
Once you have a list with key practices, you have a north star to help sift through “am I being caring to my true self?” and the worry of erring on the side of selfish.
With that north star, we then have the permission to take care of ourselves and revel in the connectedness that results from a place of fullness and that’s never selfish. It's quite the opposite. Ultimately, it's a great kindness to ourselves and this world in that both have the opportunity to benefit from our best offering.
With much warmth and good wishes,