Should you feel guilty about practicing Self-Care?

The term self-care has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. Nowadays we have famous people, professionals, people in mentorship roles and friends encouraging us to practice self-care. Popularity brought with its different interpretations and understandings of what is or how to practice self-care. Self-care means that the individual is setting aside time to do something for their emotional and psychological well- being. There is a lot of psychological research that shows how day-to-day stressors can cause burnout, hurt our productivity, our mood and our emotional well-being. Self-care is a term that reminds and encourages us to fit in or schedule a break or an enjoyable activity that helps us recharge into our very busy schedules. 

I know what you might be thinking; “Taking a break? TAKING A BREAK!? Productivity isn’t going to meet itself. The bookshelf I have at home is not going to assemble itself. My kids aren’t taking themselves to school.” Or whatever the variation of that task or responsibility you need to fulfill may be. Life can be a lot of work. Work is tiring and it can be tedious, or satisfying and fulfilling, but it is work, nonetheless. Work takes physical, emotional and psychological energy and we need to recharge. In my opinion, this is a great source of the guilt associated with practicing self-care.  Pulling away from all the work and tasks that need to be completed to do something that is more relaxing. Here is the thing; making time for self-care does not have to equal or mean that you are ignoring your responsibilities. It does not mean that you are going to have it interfere with your schedule. It means that among the many things you will be adding one more thing to your busy schedule: taking care of yourself. You can still be effective and structured with your time and how you go about taking care of yourself, but as you organize all the different things you have to do prioritize finding time to do an activity that will help you recharge. 


To draw an analogy, think of a NASCAR race. All these car drivers and their teams are competing to finish a race. In the process of trying to finish this race, they are making pit stops to refuel, change their tires and take care of any mechanical issue. The pit stop does not mean that the race is over for that racer or that car. There is thought and strategy behind when to do a pit stop in a way that allows the racer to remain in the pursuit of winning the race. So, next time you feel guilty about doing something you enjoy because you need some self-care to think about a pit stop. You are not giving up on the work you have to do or neglecting your responsibilities. You are coming into a pit stop to maintain your well-being physically and psychologically, to ensure that you are in the best condition to continue the race. And as with the pit stop, put thought into your self-care. Set your intentionality, think about your goals and your values or bring it up in therapy. Self-care can help you work smarter and not harder to achieve all the things you set out to do throughout your week.