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If Self-care Is So Great, Why Isn't Everyone Doing It?

Much food for thought, during this “season of giving,” in life coach Max Daniels’s column “If Self-care Is So Great, Why Isn’t Everyone Doing It?”

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I’ve been saying this forever, and I’m a little old lady. Certainly, moms have to put their kids first much of the time, but not all the time. Mom is entitled to a life of her own.Women are acculturated to think of themselves as willing sacrifices, and that’s nonsense. Some idiot I know told me that a woman’s job is to sacrifice herself for her family. Ridiculous. A woman’s job is to set a good example to her children of how to live a balanced life, not be a dish mop. OK, off my soap box.

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Max’s column, and her email today both had me a little weepy. We are so worth loving.

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Oh, this is so topical for me today. I said no to going on a school trip with my kids because I just didn’t want to, and I’m feeling all kinds of guilt over choosing to do something for myself instead. Even though I’ve been meaning to take a day for myself since my birthday in September, and haven’t gotten around to it yet. Even though I volunteer for all the things, all the time. Even though I’ve been “raising my kids angry” for months now, and feeling all kinds of guilt over that, too.

Thank you for this, today of all days.

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I am so glad you took this day for yourself! I hope you do exactly what you need to do for you.

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I have always said (to myself with my inner voice) that how can I possibly take care of others if I have not taken care of myself, just as we are not able to love if we don’t love ourselves first!!! Great topic!

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For the last year or so I’ve found myself turning into the proverbial ‘grumpy old woman’ especially at work. Changes to systems that in the past I would have embraced now have me ranting about the good old days… I’m not alone in this, but I don’t like hearing myself rant. Luckily I have years of accumulated long service leave and some annual leave, and an experienced replacement has become available so I’ve been able to negotiate six months leave, and also feel good about helping out someone else with a job, just as they are about to start building a new house.
For the first time since 1983 I will have more than a month without having to go to work. Will still have normal home things to take care of, and some caring responsibilities for a sister who lives an hour away, but that will normally only be a couple of times a week.
So I’m looking at a large dose of self-care, not sure how it will go, do I spreadsheet a schedule, make a list of must do/like to do tasks, knit all day every day or just go with the flow - to begin with anyway…

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Interesting that this comes up today. My husband has another medical challenge that involves another new doctor and a bunch of tests. There are other tests that would tell us more but his condition precludes him having (and surviving) them. I’m usually a tower of strength and forbearance but on Monday I snapped. I cried and cried over his pain and my fear. Later than night he said he was thinking of not telling me how he feels anymore so I don’t get upset. I was very proud of myself when I looked him in the eye and said, “I get to have my own emotions. It would be unfair for you not to tell me things and even more unfair for you to deny me my coping tears. I get over my cry and come back stronger than ever, don’t I?” He agreed. I am working very hard not to feel guilty for doing things for me and I’m very lucky that he encourages me to go out with friends, go to events, even go away for an overnight every once in a while. I’ve “mom-ed” everyone forever, it’s about time I do the same for me. Without guilt.

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One needs to put oneself first if the oxygen masks deploy, and surely some of the rest of the time, but maybe there is such a thing as excessively self-centered? I have a colleague who always and unhesitatingly tries to grab the best of everything - the best vacation time, the nicest office furniture, even the best chocolates in the box (literally) - and the rest of us have to work in concert to push back or else be content with meager leftovers. Her expressed rationale is, ‘if anyone else wants it as much as I do then they will do what I do.’ Perhaps she is healthier than the rest of us, but frankly we just find it exhausting and it makes work a lot less pleasurable for us. Self-sacrificing martyrdom is not a healthy way to live but are empathy and sharing inconsistent with self-care? Isn’t a willingness to balance one’s own needs and wants with those of others part of what builds healthy communities? Or am I just proving how resistant I am to the basic concept here?

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I’ve been struggling with this a whole bunch. I think I’m doing better about taking care of myself; carving out time to exercise and knit things that give me real joy.

It’s tough because I work from home, homeschool my kid so I have to be really motivated to get off my lazy butt and take care of myself!!

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Empathy and sharing are increased when self-care is in place, I would say. And a culture of reciprocity is really important in the workplace, isn’t it? The behavior you’re witnessing at work doesn’t sound like my definition of self-care :grimacing:

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Self care for me today involved asking for help - calling upon daughter Jen to shop for soup ingredients for me and Mike who are indisposed. A first!

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What an amazing prospect! To schedule or to let it roll?

Yes, I would say self-care is what you do for you, not what you grab from someone else!

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The latest episode of the podcast “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” was titled “DON’T Treat Yourself.” I just recently started listening, but I think they previously had a “treat yourself” episode. But the point of the latest episode is that sometimes we are calling something a treat when it’s actually bad for us. And if it’s something like your favorite pie at Christmas, you might be better off to plan the treat ahead and say, “Yeah, no sweets today, but I’m definitely having a big slice of my favorite pie on Christmas!”

All that to say, probably a “treat” that pisses other people off might count as a treat that’s bad for you. :slight_smile:

I’m overweight, prediabetic, bad cholesterol numbers, and going through a divorce, so I decided to see a nutritionist to put some new habits into place. She told me that teachers and nurses are usually the worst at taking care of themselves because they are caretakers of others. I am a teacher and totally believe this. So since so much has changed that I can’t control, I’m going to try and make some changes I can control. Feeling better already.

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