Sex & Life
Sex & Life August 7, 2017
How can you be your best self if you don't take care of yourself?
How many times have you heard someone use “self care” as an excuse to be super lazy?
Unfortunately, personal care has definitely earned a bad rap this year. People already expect millennials to be lazy… why set aside time to take care of yourself? Isn’t that basically what eating and sleeping is?
Yes, but eating and sleeping are not always prioritized… especially by extremely busy women. The healthcare universe defines self care as “any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.”
So basically, if anyone’s gonna take initiative for your own needs, it’s you.
Here are a few examples of the times it’s okay to prioritize your basic needs… even if it doesn’t feel like “the polite” thing to do.
One of the most important aspects of self care is enough sleep. You put your grades first when you pull an all-nighter for that Econ exam. You put your friend first when you stay on the phone with her until 2 a.m. because her boyfriend dumped her via text.
However, your body can’t afford too many sleep-deprived nights. Putting your sleep first will allow you to be more present and efficient the following day.
Whether it’s a lump that wasn’t there before, a back spasm or even a headache that won’t go away for days, you deserve to make that issue your priority. You might miss that graduation or birthday party, but your true friends will understand if it’s concerning your health. Unless it’s your sister’s wedding, most reasonable people will understand if you need an urgent doctor’s appointment.
I cannot tell you how many large events I’ve had to excuse myself from, seemingly for no reason. During a larger family reunion, I suddenly felt a big, unprecedented wave of stress crash over me. I excused myself to my bedroom and breathed deeply, totally confused at what had just happened.
My mom knew what was wrong before she even had to ask. Some social events (i.e. big family weddings, reunions, etc.) require you to constantly be around large groups of people for days at a time. For these days, you feel the need to be “on,” or constantly ready to engage in a conversation with 8+ people at once. Some extroverts can do this for eternity… but it is normal to take a breather every once in a while.
And after a ten-minute breather, my stress totally melted away. Overstimulation can definitely happen to anyone.
I used to listen to Loveline, a radio show and podcast that answered any and all relationship questions from callers. Callers are really honest about their love lives, and it gave me a lot of insight into where psychological problems start.
The first question, whether it was a caller with a trust or trauma problem or almost any other serious problem, would always be the same. Within the first 15 seconds of speaking with the caller, Dr. Drew (who hosted the show for much of its run, would), would ask, “Have you gotten help?”
Several callers would give vague excuses. But Dr. Drew basically said that nothing he could say would do anything if the caller needed to see a therapist. He would even say that for problems that seemed minor, or not requiring professional help.
Seeing a counselor, especially for the first time, is a ***huge*** win for self care. It means you’re taking control of your physical health as well as your mental health. This is definitely something you should prioritize, even if you slightly suspect you may need it.
The last time I was ill, I hated how needy I felt. Even though I was too malnourished to walk, I would attempt to scale my stairs with shaky legs to grab some Advil PM, only to give up halfway and have to lie down in defeat. Being sick, especially if you’re bed-ridden, is your pass to politely ask for the things you need. People you love are taking care of you, they will be more than happy to oblige.
Also, some people get a total kick out of taking care of people. My mom actually appreciated the opportunity to care of me, because for the first time since I left home for college, I desperately needed her for my basic survival needs. People like feeling needed, so don’t feel bad about asking for help when you need it.
This sounds simple, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put lunch on the back burner because my friend needed me for something. Now this sounds super selfless on the surface, but it’s actually a total lack of self-awareness on my part. Let’s say you get this text from your friend right after you sit down for lunch:
“Hey, I know this is super last minute, but do you have the study guide for the Bio test? I totally thought that was tomorrow and it’s in twenty minutes… if you could bring it to the library that would be amazing… Thanks!”
On one hand, you could toss your lunch in the garbage and run to the person’s rescue. However, since they asked for the last-minute favor, it would perfectly reasonable to respond with the following:
“Hey! I actually just sat down for lunch, but I have it in my bag. Would you be able to meet me in the cafeteria? I’m towards the back.”
This is a win-win, because you still get to help out a friend, but they make the effort to retrieve the thing they need. Skipping meals does not do amazing things to your energy, and it can be easy to put meals last on your priority list. However, a few minor adjustments to how you answer these messages, and you can do wonders for your personal self care.
As one of the only owners of a car within my circle of acquaintances in Los Angeles, I have been the designated driver a handful of times… and I love it. It gives you and your friends a complete sense of freedom, and you feel like an important member of the adventurers’ dynamic.
However, you are also responsible for these people’s lives. Your mind should be on the road at all times, which means you may need to ask your co-pilot to do a few menial tasks. It took me a while to realize that asking your friend to send a text for you, adjust the AC or even hand over your water bottle are totally acceptable things to ask for. Not only is it acceptable, but it is helping you keep your passengers safe.
Hopefully now you know that it’s okay to prioritize your own needs sometimes. Although it is honorable to be selfless, you can only be your best self if you take care of yourself.
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