By Jennifer Eulberg, MA, LPC
At the end of my first session with clients, I typically recommend an increase in self-care. I emphasize the importance of demonstrating love to one’s brain. This is often difficult when one’s brain is attacked by negativity. Individuals struggle, sometimes, to know how to show care when feeling so bad. I suggest doing more of the things you like, even if those things don’t seem “productive”. While meditation, hot bubble baths, manicures, and fitness are great ways to meet this self-care, sometimes such activities are too far out of our reach. So, binge-watch television without guilt, eat your favorite meal, and yes, sleep, if you want. Though it can be scary, or seem like “giving in”, doing so can often help us begin to heal.
When we are so used to giving to others, the transition toward giving to oneself can be difficult. All too often, I hear “It’s selfish” when I recommend increased self-care. Yes, giving more to yourself may take away from what you typically devote to others. However, when we run ourselves on empty, we aren’t providing quality effort. If we push ourselves into burn out, always helping others who want us, then we won’t be available to anyone who might need us (especially ourselves). This call to self-care, first, is often exemplified using the airplane oxygen mask model: put your own on, then help others.
I think it’s so important to challenge the thought that we are being “selfish”. When we give to ourselves what we need, we are not taking from others. Consider a scale with giving on one end and taking on the other. Self-care lies just in the middle, not with taking or “selfish”. When we provide for our own needs, we are giving to ourselves what is ours, not taking from others what is theirs. The give and take of relationships inevitably lead to an ebb and flow of mutual benefits. Those who care for us, respect us, and want good for us, do not wish for us to give beyond our means.
If you find it too hard to do this for yourself, then do it for those who care about you, watch you, and emulate you. Be the example of health and appropriate self-care and of balanced relationships. How will you demonstrate self-care to your brain? Personally, I love a good nap!
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!