April 19, 2019

Selfishness in the Age of Self-Care

“Even in the midst of our culture’s current obsession with wellness, it is sometimes hard to understand what self-care really is. How much money is it reasonable to spend on pretty candles? Should you really cancel tonight’s dinner with your friends? Do you even want to take that bubble bath? I mean, the sacrosanct concept that we deserve to prioritize our sanity and wellbeing has been around forever for a reason — because it is only right — but is there such a thing as going too far with ‘me time’?

Firstly, there needs to be some perspective: “It’s about reaching a point of balance and thinking: ‘Whose needs are the most urgent, right now? Am I feeling tired? Am I getting stressed? Do I need to take a time out? Or does this person need my presence more?,” says psychologist Emma Short, who’s worked with many patients who’ve experienced stress and trauma to find sustainable strategies to self-care.

We all exist within a network of other people who are important to us, she explains: “It’s important that you are responsive, but you can only be responsive and attend to other people’s needs if you’ve met your own.” If you’ve spread yourself too thin, if you’re stressed or ill, you’re going to be less intuitive and less likely to help, because you’re struggling.”

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