I saw a post on Instagram the other day that said something along the lines of “If taking care of yourself means letting someone else down… let someone else down.”
This doesn’t sit right with me.
I work in the mental health space. I write about self-care and related topics on a weekly basis. It’s not new information to me. But I’m starting to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach that says something is amiss here.
Is self-care important?
Let me be clear—self-care is important for our health and wellness. I’ve written before on other platforms about the importance of taking care of ourselves and used the example of the oxygen masks on an airplane. You need to put your mask on first so you can help others, like your kids, get their masks on.
There are a million analogies like this. You can’t pour from an empty cup. And even Jesus prioritized taking time to get away in the quiet and not always be with the crowds.
So, I’m not saying self-care is selfish or not important. But I think society as a whole is approaching the line of moving from self-care to selfishness.
There are some simple self-care habits that we can incorporate into our lives without needing to let someone else down. And I know that the other post was meant for good and there are many women out there who struggle with always putting others before themselves, but I’m becoming alarmed that just like in so many other areas of the world, we’re beginning to lose the proper balance.
Taking care of yourself is important and I believe it’s Biblical to care for the mind and body God has given us. But I think the overall self-care message that society is pushing is focusing too much on what we can do for ourselves and removing the most important piece of the puzzle—God. I can’t say this surprises me as we watch the way Christianity is being challenged around the world.
Renewing our minds
What if we started with renewing our minds to God’s word? What if we made sure our self-care habits had God and faith as the foundation? We meditate on the Word of God. We journal on what the Word is speaking to us and how we can apply it in our life. And yes, we still take care of our physical bodies because they are the bodies that God provided us with and we should be good stewards of them.
I think the difference is when we keep God at the center of our lives, including our self-care routines, we are able to maintain these habits in an unselfish way. We keep the first thing first, and the first thing is not us. When we follow the path society is trying to lead us down, we are the center of our lives and I think we can look around and see that that strategy isn’t working out so well for us.
Where does self-care become selfish?
It’s important to take time to care for yourself. We all need rest. Our bodies crave it.
But we don’t NEED a strict self-care routine to be healthy. We don’t NEED to meditate for 1 hour every day while reciting affirmations. We don’t NEED to take care of ourselves to the detriment of others.
Are your self-care habits taking over your life? That’s a problem.
Do you feel that you can’t be kind to others if you don’t have a certain number of minutes or hours for yourself each day? That’s a problem.
Yes, self-care habits can help us feel our best. But if we start to believe that we must jump through these certain hoops to feel good or that we can ALWAYS put ourselves first, that’s a problem.
Finding your self-care balance
I wish I had a secret formula for how to make sure you spend enough time taking care of yourself without crossing the line. I wish I had that formula for myself. But I don’t.
Instead, I struggle to find the balance. I go through periods of time when I exhaust myself by trying to help everyone around me. Then, I withdraw and stay in that place for too long, crossing the line into selfishness.
I think the balance is right in the middle. Can we look back at the past week and see ways that we prioritized taking care of ourselves while also identifying ways that we put others before ourselves? That’s balance.
We live in a fast-paced world where it’s easy to put self-care on the back burner until we feel exhausted and burnt out. Be intentional about spending time with God each day. Be intentional about finding healthy habits so you take care of the body and mind God blessed you with. But don’t for a second fall for the lie that taking care of yourself should always come before taking care of others.
Find the balance in your life.
So, is self-care selfish? It doesn’t have to be. The choice is yours.