“You can’t pour from an empty cup, ” I warn my mom as she is running up and down the stairs to take care of my dad. “That is so Oprah, and I don’t do Oprah,” my mom snaps back at me. My mom is the primary caretaker for my dad who has Alzheimer’s Disease and the only “peace” she gets is when she goes to work as a speech teacher for autistic children. To her credit, my mom never complains as she takes care of my dad. It can’t be easy, as she doesn’t get a moment to herself until he falls asleep. My dad gets agitated and takes it out on her. I offer to go down to her house which is an hour away so she can get a break. However, after an hour or two dad is ushering me out of the house. My mom is too busy filling up everyone else’s cups to worry about her own empty cup. According to her, she is “fine.” I know that she’s not, she can’t be. However, her cup it never seems to get dry as she is constantly fills up the cups of everyone around her. Is she right? Is self care just an”Oprah- ism?” When I am feeling stressed and go out to get a manicure am I just being selfish? Or do I really need my nails done and a night of not worrying about if everyone has eaten? When I say the words “self care” it seems indulgent, even selfish. I feel guilty and embarrassed to admit I need it. There are women like my mom, who don’t even think about self care, because frankly they don’t have the time. However, there are tons of books on Amazon, and if you Google it there are hundreds of posts on every aspect of self care. Have we gone soft as a society or is it crucial to our well being? Self care is in fact, crucial not only to our physical health, but to our mental, and emotional health It is even stated in the definition that it “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” What if we looked at self care differently? Instead of thinking of it as massages and manicures what if we looked at it as part of our job? What if we needed discipline to engage in self care? For example, if you want to wake up early and exercise, you have to decide do I go to bed at a decent hour? or Do I binge watch the last season of Ray Donovan? When you go out with your girlfriends for that all deserved night out, you might have to say no to the second or third margarita. Have you been woken up by your kids with a hangover? That night of self care turned into a night of regret really fast. So if self care takes discipline are you really being selfish? The answer is no. Self care is not an escape from your reality, it should be done everyday. When you make a commitment to stay healthy both physically and mentally. It restores balance to this hectic, need to respond immediately world we live in. Self-care is also a discipline because it’s not something you do once a month, or once a year it is making the commitment to stay healthy and balanced as a regular daily or weekly practice. What are some of the results of self care?
- Boosts your confidence: Self-care produces positive feelings about yourself. You are showing the world that you have self confidence and a healthy self esteem. It also shows your friends, co-workers and partners that you put yourself first. As result, they will treat you and your needs with respect.
- Keeps a healthy balance between work and home: According to recent studies, working 12 hour days is not healthy. It leaves you stressed, and exhausted, which results in being less productive, and emotionally depleted for your loved ones. Working long hours can lead to health problems, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and heart disease. When you are at work it is important to take breaks and go for a walk, leave the office for lunch, chatting with a friend about topics other than work. It can also help you set professional boundaries, and actually makes you more productive.
- Manages Stress: Constant stress has a has detrimental effects on your physical and mental health. Stress activates your cortisol that makes it difficult to lose weight, or if you are like me stress leads to emotional eating. Eating healthy, reaching out to a friend or loved one or practicing meditation and yoga helps you manage the stress.
- Taking the time to enjoy your life: As I am getting older I am realizing that life goes by so quickly. I want to live it to the fullest by being emotionally and physically healthy. Yes, I have to go to work, and have mundane responsibilities, but it it is important to be present when I am with my kids, enjoying my friends, listening to music and even drinking a delicious cup of tea while sitting in my yard.