Yeah, yeah, we know. The term self-care has become almost as trite as the term “girl boss.” Self-care is used to describe everything from getting a mammogram to spoiling ourselves with a trip to Sephora. So what exactly is self-care? In Psych Central, self-care is defined as, “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” So mammograms definitely count. Trips to Sephora? You could convince me.
Many working daughters however, have their own definition of self-care. In that vortex of swirling emotions, information overload, and to-do lists running on loops that is their brain, they’ve changed the definition of self-care to, “any activity that we do selfishly when we should be tending to the mental, emotional, and physical health of others.” Too many working daughters have convinced themselves that the needs of the people they care for somehow cancel out their own needs. Not true.
So in an effort to convince you that self-care is not only important, but also acceptable, and in an effort to do that without saying anything about oxygen masks or pouring from an empty cup, (you are welcome), here are 6 reasons to practice self-care when you are a caregiver.
1. It will make you a better caregiver. Since this is the beginning of the list, I know I have not yet convinced you that you have the right to be healthy. So let me convince you of this: you need to be strong, in good health, and patient, in order to be the kind of caregiver you want to be. Exercise, eating well, taking breaks from your responsibilities, and sleeping as close to 8 hours a night as you can get (and at least more than 3!) will make that happen. (And sometimes Netflix.)
2. It can boost your immunity. You spend your time with sick people, in doctor’s offices, in hospitals, in bathrooms…I mean come on; your immune system is constantly threatened. Antibacterial soap only goes so far. You know what goes the distance? Sleep, water, yoga, and vegetables.
3. It can give you energy. Your day starts between 5 and 6 a.m. It ends between 10 p.m. and midnight. And you do not get two 15-minute breaks nor do you get an hour for lunch. If you’re lucky you get to pee twice a day and you get to call the insurance company during your so-called lunch break. That kind of schedule requires stamina. You know how you can get stamina? Sleep, exercise, and a decent diet.
4. You can’t go down. If I still haven’t convinced you that taking care of yourself is important and acceptable, maybe you will hear this: self-care is critical. Why? Because what happens if you go down? What happens if you are felled by the flu or throw out your back? Who will care for all of the people you care for? You can’t afford not to take care of yourself. That would be selfish. And you know what keeps you going? Sleep, exercise, eating right, and having some fun so you don’t snap.
5. It is your right. The Working Daughter Bill of Rights clearly states: “You have the right to be healthy. No one else’s health should supersede your own. You have the right to sleep, eat, exercise, and do whatever else is needed to protect your physical and mental health. You will be a better caregiver if you care for yourself.” And you know how you can do that? I think you’re figuring it out by now.
6. You deserve it. It’s that simple. You deserve to care for yourself as well as you care for others. Look in the mirror. Go now. Look past the hair you never had time to blow dry today. Look past the worry lines. Look at you. You are amazing. For starters, you’re upright. And we both know that is a major accomplishment some days. You are compassionate. You are smart. You are determined. Dare I say it? You are a girl boss. Reward yourself! Reward yourself by caring for the body that cares for others. Reward yourself by resting the mind that thinks about every little detail. And yeah, reward yourself with a trip to Sephora.