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Repeat After Me: Self-Care is Not Selfish

A young woman relaxes with a book and a cup of coffee.

Like many women, I tend to put my health and well-being last on my list of priorities. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I went to see my specialist (yet I manage to schedule and attend many of my husband’s and parents’ appointments) or even worked out consistently (but I watch the baby so my husband can work out two to three times a week). To my chagrin, I even have a gift certificate for a massage from two years ago that I haven’t touched.

While I would love to get around to some “me” time, I often just don’t have the time or energy. My family’s needs always come first so I usually spend most of my time attending to them. At the end of the day, there is usually little or no time left for myself.

You Can’t Take Care of Others if You’re Sick

I take great pride in my selfless ways and I think they make me a good wife, mother, and daughter. Interestingly, my husband doesn’t see it that way.

While he appreciates my help (most of the time), he is constantly telling me that I need to make my health and well-being a priority. Literally, his favorite thing to say to me is, “You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.” While I hate to admit it, he’s right.

The pressure of trying to do it all can make you feel overwhelmed and create a lot of stress. Since having a baby, I’ve realized that taking care of everything for everyone just isn’t possible any more. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your health by weakening your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, weight gain, sleep issues, stomach ulcers, depression, diabetes, and heart disease.

To put it simply: If you neglect yourself to the point that you’re really sick (physically, mentally, or emotionally), you won’t be any good to anyone.

5 Tips for Self-Care

Experts recommend the following self-care measures to help address and support your health and wellness so you can be healthy, and subsequently, able to take care of your loved ones.

  1. Eat well. You need the energy from food to function, so be sure to eat healthy foods that will fuel you throughout the day. Opt for plenty of colorful fruits and veggies.
  2. Get up and move. Exercise busts stress, boosts the mood, and elevates energy levels, so it’s important to be physically active. It also has great heart health benefits and can help manage many chronic health conditions. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise.
  3. Catch some zzz’s. Lack of sleep increases stress, so it’s important to get enough sleep. According to The National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to rest and recharge the mind and body.
  4. Know your limits. Finding the time, energy, and resources to do everything can be challenging. Be honest with yourself, and say no when you have to.
  5. Find ways to decompress. Everybody needs time each day to do something for themselves, so find ways to integrate breaks throughout the day. Whether it’s taking a walk, talking to a friend, or reading a book, take a few minutes each day to do something you enjoy and unwind.

Make You a Priority

I used to be one of those people who believed it was selfish to take care of yourself or make yourself a priority, but now I know that’s not true. If it’s important to you to take care of others, then you have to pay attention to your own well-being — you’re no good to anyone if you’re out of commission! You have to be healthy to manage all the demands of your life and family, and that requires caring as much about yourself as you do for others.


Veronica Serrano

Mother. Wife. TV junkie. Shopaholic. That’s me in a nutshell – outside of work. As a copywriter at IBX, I enjoy learning about the health and wellness topics that I write about and hope to incorporate more healthy habits into my daily life to give me the energy to keep up with my baby girl.