By Sandra Chaloux | 10/06/2020

Self-Care For Women: Why It’s Crucial to Care For Yourself Too

Self-Care For Women: Why It’s Crucial to Care For Yourself Too

Through decades of popular culture’s influence--in television, film, literature, advertising, music, etc.--and the patriarchal institution responsible for it, society has made the roles of women very clear: they are wives, mothers, maids, nannies, teachers, nurses, and, in short, caretakers. And while this outdated paradigm has shifted somewhat over the years, it is so ingrained in our culture that it is difficult to shake completely and remains pervasive today. It’s in our cultural DNA, going back to religious texts. The relatively few women present in the Bible are generally either praised for having children (or commanded to), or are punished or ostracized for not having children. They are portrayed as very one-dimensional figures, whose primary functions are procreation and child-rearing. 

 

Studies have shown that, generally speaking, women tend to be intrinsically more empathetic than men, so this notion of “women as caretakers” isn’t totally unfounded. Though, it has gotten to such an extreme where many women have trouble finding the time, or feel selfish for taking care of themselves. The paradox here is that, when your own self-care is consistently neglected, it becomes harder to show patience and understanding toward others. Take this excerpt of a quote from writer and journalist, Brenda Ueland:

 

“If you are always doing something for others, like a servant or nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate, or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself.” 

 

Help Yourself, Help Others

 

If you’ve been on an airplane, you know the opening safety spiel. They breeze through instructions that we accept and, for the most part, consider to be basic, common sense. One part stands out to me though: “In the event of a loss in cabin pressure, yellow oxygen masks will deploy from the compartment above you. Please secure your own mask before assisting others.” Not a lot of mind is paid to this directive, and perhaps that’s because it makes perfect sense. How can we expect to effectively take care of others when we, ourselves, are struggling or in danger? This is a simple, yet important reminder to women that, no matter how society makes you feel you should prioritize your time and your life, there is nothing selfish about putting time aside to take care of yourself. It’s just the opposite. By taking care of yourself, you are better energized and prepared to provide your full support and assistance to others. If done in reverse, there is little energy or motivation left over to properly tend to your needs.

Hierarchy of Needs

 

At the top of Abraham Maslow's “Hierarchy of Needs” theory is self-actualization. What’s important to note is that, as humans, we all have aspirations and dreams. We have this innate desire to want to be something more and to reach our fullest potential. However, this desire can all too easily become suppressed by our other instincts--to care and attend to others’ needs. Our own self-care gets placed at the end of the list, when it should be the first thing tended to. If we don’t take care of, and listen to, our own selves, we may feel that those dreams and aspirations are forever out of reach, which is seen as just an accepted part of life for many women in our society. One of the biggest regrets of the dying is that they didn’t pursue something their heart wanted them to do in their life. It’s not about waiting or hoping to find yourself after your basic needs are met. It’s about creating yourself, and who you want to be, and it starts with self-care. 

 

Instead of making your children, the reason not to do something you want to do -like starting a business or wellness program. What about making your children the reason to do something -to pursue a dream business or project or program? 


Putting It Into Practice

 

I’ve written before on the power of energy. How we tend to attract the same kind of energy we put out into the world. So what does it mean if we are consistently putting ourselves aside to take care of others? Well, it could mean that we’re much more likely to attract the kind of people who feel they need to be taken care of--people who definitely have their own self-care and self-interest in mind, often at the expense of our giving nature. In short, it may mean we get taken advantage of, because we have demonstrated our inclination toward selflessness and giving. We teach others how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves, so if we are always putting ourselves last, they will too.

 

So how do we reverse the trend? The key is to have realistic expectations and start small. Self-care does not mean daily trips to the spa and lavish dinners every night. These things aren’t what we're talking about, but there are things that you can easily schedule into your day, including:

  • Taking a few minutes to meditate/pray
  • Getting outside 
  • Exercising regularly
  • Taking time to prepare & enjoy healthy and life giving food
  • Girlfriend time
  • Being around positive, uplifting people
  • Reading or journaling for 20 minutes
  • Stretching
  • Making appointments to care for your hair, teeth, skin, and body
  • Going to bed a little early and getting a good night’s sleep
  • Doing something creative that you enjoy
  • Limiting your phone/social media use (maybe unplugging completely for 30 minutes - 1 hour)
  • Learn something new or reading
  • Joining a community of like-minded women who enjoy the same passion or aspiration
  • Taking an Epsom salt bath

 

This list is just a start, but you get the idea. It’s about taking a little bit of time each day for you--to do something you enjoy. That relaxes you. That makes you feel happy and fills your cup. If you’re not sure how to fit these practices in, or find that you lack the energy or motivation to integrate them into your day, take a moment to reach out to us here! We can connect you with a coach who can work with you to support you in establishing goals for self-care and break them down into easy, achievable steps. Leave a comment below and let us know how you will honor yourself today.




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