Self-care is so important, and yet a lot of people (women particularly) won’t make it a priority because they don’t want to be selfish. I would like to change the definition of selfish just a little. People generally think of being selfish as caring only for and about oneself, regardless of others. When thinking of self-care, I think we need to take out the “only” and “regardless of others,” and make it about caring for oneself FIRST, BEFORE OTHERS. There is a very good reason for this. If you run out of steam and resources, you will not be able to take care of anyone else. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t take care of yourself, your baby or partner or parent will not be getting the best you to help them.
Most, if not all, people have been on an airplane, and heard the attendant go through the oxygen mask speech: you know, the one where you are told that if the oxygen mask drop you are to put on your own first, before helping someone who may need some assistance. There is one very good reason for this: if you help someone else first, and end up gasping on the floor because you don’t have enough oxygen, you are no help to anyone. Self-care works the same way. If you don’t take care of yourself and recharge your own battery you will eventually run out of resources to help anyone else.
Remind a caregiver you know how important it is to take care of themselves, and that it is not bad to do so. And go one step further – help them to take care of themselves. Give them a break by taking over, if you can, so they can get out for coffee or a meal, or even a nap. If you aren’t qualified to be the caregiver for a bit, but can afford to pay someone to do it for them, then do it. Sometimes all it takes is to just be there for them. Don’t just tell them to take care of themselves, find a way to make it possible for them to take care of themselves.