When you start a garden, you don’t plant the seeds and forget about it. You have to nurture the growth. Water the plants. Weed regularly. Prune overgrowth. It takes continuous care to ensure your garden will flourish.

Cars are similar. If you’ve ever owned a vehicle, you know the kind of maintenance that comes along with making sure it runs smoothly. You don’t just take it in when something breaks. You have to change the oil on a regular basis. Wash the car to keep the paint job crisp. Align the tires to keep the car running straight and true.

It’s the same if you own a house. There are constant updates to keep the home functioning. Weather wears down the exterior, and you need to paint or upkeep siding. As your family grows or needs change, you may need to renovate the inside. You clean the house to keep it fresh and healthy, not when you can’t see the floor anymore. It’s a constant project to make a house a home.

If we put all this effort into our material things, why don’t we care for our bodies the same way?

photo credit: everydayfeminism.com
photo credit: everydayfeminism.com

I’ve noticed a trend. People only go to the doctor when they’re sick. They take advantage of good health and don’t think about what goes into maintaining that wellness. Even if you shy away from traditional allopathic medicine, you still probably don’t keep up a wellness routine that honors your body. And heaven forbid you do something to “treat” yourself!

When did “pamper” become such a dirty word?

The reality of the situation is that, despite what our culture seems to think, self-care is not a luxury. If we take care of ourselves on a daily basis, keeping in mind good health and wellness practices, we won’t need to visit the doctor outside of check-ups. But somewhere along the way, society taught itself that to indulge in self-care, to focus on our own wellbeing above and beyond being simply “alive”, was a selfish act.

This is so frustrating! When did taking care of our bodies and having pride in ourselves become taboo? Caregivers especially fall into this trap. If you’ve ever had someone to take care of – family, kids, work, etc – you may have thought putting the needs of others before your own needs was a noble sacrifice. Don’t get me wrong; it’s honorable to care for the wellbeing of others. We just need to stop doing it at the expense of ourselves!

photo credit: lovewell-livewell.com
photo credit: lovewell-livewell.com

A common analogy is the age-old flight instruction: “You have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can try to help others with theirs.” At first glance, this seems selfish, but think about it. You can’t help someone else if you’re suffering. You can’t help your child with her oxygen mask if you can’t breathe yourself.

This is what self-care is for. It’s not a luxury. It’s a necessity to keep your body – and your mind – running at peak efficiency. We need to put an end to this strange martyr complex that creates a divide between the nobility of taking care of others and the reality of needing to take care of ourselves.

Perhaps the term “self-care” recalls images of expensive weekend spa trips, bank-breaking shopping trips, or extreme laziness disguised as “relaxation”. If this is why you shy away from self-care, don’t be fooled! As we’ve seen, self-care isn’t selfish, and it’s more than just a yearly check-up.

photo credit: theredboa.blogspot.com
photo credit: theredboa.blogspot.com

Self-care is eating good, whole, healthy foods. It is accepting our actions and understanding our emotions. It is maintaining a life of joy and balance. It is exercising in whatever way motivates and inspires you. It is talking if you need to talk, and listening if you need to listen. It is releasing those things that weigh you down, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Massage reinvigorate your muscles. Reiki lightens your soul and unblocks emotions. Even traditional spa pampering serves to keep our spirits up, keep our skin healthy, and create positive body image. Jewelry and other beautiful things makes us feel beautiful by association. Doing things we love makes our soul light. Stress can literally kill so we need to kill stress.

I know I harp on this topic a lot, but that’s how important self-care is to a long, healthy, successful life! Take care of your body. Release your mind. Nourish your soul. It’s okay to give yourself permission; in the end, the only person you have to answer to is yourself.

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