Hey lovelies! It has been a while. As many of you may know, Linds and I are full-time university students and maintaining our blog at the end of the semester tends to stretch what we are capable of. But the semester is over (almost for linds), we’re taking some well-deserved time for self-care, and I’ve managed to survive my first surgical experience (wisdom teeth, haha). So we’re back, and we have some awesome content coming up– stay tuned!
In the meantime, I want to talk about some research I did this semester (yeah yeah, sounds boring I know!) about self-care and the psychology behind it. I am studying Social Work, a profession with high rates of burnout, and self-care is preached to us day-in and day-out. I am proud that our school is taking responsibility for encouraging mental and physical wellbeing in its students. For one of my courses this semester, myself and a classmate did some research on self-care and feelings of guilt.
We all know the feeling: we’ve got so much on our plate that taking time for ourselves seems wasteful, silly, and maybe even undeserved.
The fact of the matter, however, is this: self-care is crucial to our health and wellbeing, not something we should feel guilty about.
So why do we feel guilty for or ashamed of taking time for ourselves?
- We tend to set really high expectations for ourselves. Not meeting these goals or crossing everything off our to-do lists can make us feel like we do not deserve self-care or even self-love.
- We tend to confuse indulgence with self-care, and this doesn’t have to be the case. Self-care does not have to be luxurious, expensive, or time-consuming. Self-care can be turning off your tech and closing your eyes for five minutes.
- We all have very important commitments and responsibilities in our lives– family, work, friends, school, and so on. Taking time for ourselves can feel selfish, evoking feelings of guilt. During times like this, we must remind ourselves that we cannot take good care of someone else until we’ve taken care of ourselves first.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is a good place to start reflecting on your own life. Self-care induced guilt is toxic for our minds and bodies because it is preventing us from coping with daily events in a healthy manner, increases the likelihood of burnout, and it causes us to lose respect for ourselves. Think of self-care as an act of service to yourself. You’ll be more productive in the long run, your head will feel less full, and you’ll feel more energized overall. Most importantly, you will be fostering self-respect– which means others will respect you too. Your body is there for you through so much, it deserves kindness!
So what can we do to avoid these feelings of self-care induced guilt?
- Schedule and prioritize time for self-care. I live for my agenda, so this one works well for me. Mark down a time to do something for yourself, and hold yourself accountable to complete the task.
- Learn to say NO and set boundaries. Plain and simple. We do not need to agree to every favour (big or small) that someone asks of us. Only say ‘yes’ to things you know you can handle.
- Tell yourself “I’m doing my best and I can’t do it all.” You know this is true, so embrace the mantra.
- Cut the multitasking and do one thing at a time, you will feel less overwhelmed overall. Besides, self-care cannot be multitasked (unless it’s watching Netflix while cooking dinner, we’ll let that one slide).
- Give back to your community. Volunteering, I’ve learned, is one of the most rewarding things you can do for self-care. Be careful about the type of community work you choose, however, if self-care is your motivation. Not all volunteer work is easy, emotionally or physically. In my experience, gardening and harvesting for the local Autism Society restaurant (a social enterprise) was the best form of self-care.
We hope this article inspires you in some way. Have you ever felt guilty about taking time for self-care? How have you remedied these feelings? What is your favorite thing to do for self-care? Let us know in the comments below or on social media (@twowildtides).
Here are some other articles we’ve written that might help you with self-care or through tough times:
- 10 Self-Care Tips for Overwhelming Times
- 6 Tasks That Will Improve Your Everyday Life
- 7 Tips for a Healthy Exam Period
- How to Maintain Control During Overwhelming Times
- The Monday Morning Checklist
- Being Alone Without Being Lonely