Self-Care  Isn’t Selfish

Self-care after 2020 has taken on new meaning and importance. Many practices before the pandemic still apply, a few others, not as much. Strict time-keeping to a workout or meditation at 5 am may not make as much sense for those of us who continue to work/school from home or do some hybrid of both. Tasks related, though necessitate commitment, may require some flexibility of schedule and mindset. Indulgence as a ‘treat’ without meaning or mindfulness no longer applies. What matters as self-care for you and your family shifted as priorities changed to support your mental and overall health.

Says Brené Brown, in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, writes: “In a society that says, “Put yourself last,” self-love and self-acceptance are almost revolutionary.”

Here are some self-care ideas from the Deschutes team that promote better mental health:

· Take care of yourself first (no, it’s not selfish).

One long-standing self-care truism and a phrase many of us have heard in our lifetimes — ‘put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting others.’ You won’t have the energy for your kid’s mental or emotional meltdowns if you tend to put everyone else’s needs before yours.

· Avoid stagnation, set actionable, achievable goals.

The pandemic did promote rest. However, it also created feelings of stagnation and languishing, leading to depression. Having goals, actionable ones, is necessary for you and your kids. Making a weekly shortlist can help. These needn’t be lofty or urgent goals. A few good examples are: planning a family bike trip to the park, a game night with the neighbors, a room make-over, or finishing a project.

· Let go of or delegate tasks.

An unmade bed or a few dirty dishes are not more important than you or your kid’s health. We realize you may know this at some level. However, ‘good’ habits are hard to break and don’t always support the big picture — especially if we can tend to them the next day. Delegate to other family members or friends, when you can.

· Say ‘no’ more.

Adding to the previous point of ‘letting tasks go’ is also the idea that we can’t commit to everyone’s requests — even if we want to catch up with an old friend in person, for example. Maybe instead, you write them an email or letter. Recognizing when you don’t have the energy to take on specific commitments is crucial.

· Take 5, 10, or 15.

Taking 5 to 15 minutes every day for yourself in silence can be of great benefit. It doesn’t need to be a meditation. For example, it could be a quick walk in the neighborhood or writing about your day or feelings in a journal.

· Take a social media break.

While social media serves as a tool for staying in touch with others, it can also lead to procrastination and comparing your life to others. Both of which can lead to the previously-mentioned stagnation and depression. After a 1–2 week break from these platforms, consider scheduling a short time-slot each week to visit them.

· Create and schedule 1 joyful habit/routine.

Somewhere in the sliding and merging of household/work/school schedules of the last few years, your morning cup of coffee/tea went often half-consumed, then cold when you discovered it on the kitchen counter hours later. Maybe your 5 to 15 minutes of silence sometimes goes to you sitting quietly with your favorite morning beverage.

What Self-Care Is Not According to Brené Brown:

1. Not feeling like you’re enough. Being able to accept who you are at any one moment allows you to continue to fill your cup and, in turn, be able to be there for others.

2. Carrying/wearing your armor. This armor may have helped you keep your cool at work or get through tough growing pains in your youth. However, things change, and letting your guard down helps others see the real you. From there, you can make connections that nurture you.

3. Perfectionism. If your self-care routine needs editing, or you can’t commit to one of the previously mentioned lifestyle changes on a given day, it’s ok.

Here are some of her additional thoughts that support self-care.

The great thing about these habits is that many of these are ones you and your kids can work on alongside each other and cheer each other’s progress towards these new self-care goals. Making self-care a habit vs. a temporary solution and setting that example for your children can be life-changing and proof that self-care is not selfish.

If you find that your child’s mental health needs require professional support beyond your family’s new self-care efforts, consider contacting the caring, experienced professional at Deschutes Wilderness Therapy.